What Observers Advise for Teaching Software, Hardware, and Cybersecurity

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Apply these tips in your teaching to engage students and to monitor their progress during lessons. 

1. Show students the Big Picture

Always start with the big picture for a new unit of learning. Bridge-in with a case, a metaphor, a job advertisement – something to help the students see the why of the learning. 

2. Clarify outcomes

Be clear with the outcome and the benefit of the learning, and if it is a building block or threshold concept, be clear with students that it must be mastered. 

3. Pre-assess

Check if students have the requisite prior knowledge and if so, activate it. Use questions based  on prior content to trigger thoughtful processing. Ensure your formative assessment shows that  students have mastered the threshold concept and are ready to move on.  

4. Ask for attention

Be clear when students should listen/watch/think about what you are doing and when they should be hands-on doing. It’s ok to request “hands-off” time so everyone starts in the same place. 

5. Use segmenting 

Break up the lesson content into chunks of about 10 minutes maximum. Check-in after each  chunk to confirm the learning. Punctuate with knowledge checks and open-ended questions. Be  inclusive and give everyone a chance to process and respond. 

6. Show them the path

Provide a “cheat sheet” for the key concepts or procedures. List the main steps and path to  success.  As you build knowledge, leave some items blank and have students do a fill-in-the-gap. 

7. Describe as you go

Do a “talk aloud” protocol as you work through – tell the students your own thinking and what you try to avoid and to always do. 

8. Annotate screen captures

Take screen shots “snips” of smaller sections of your screen share, then paste in a whiteboard or jam board to annotate the code. Share with students to review later. 

9. Add a problem-solving element

Rather than ask and answer your own questions, give students a problem to solve. Let students try to figure out what is wrong and how to fix it.  Wait for them to give the answer to you.  

10. Request screenshare check-ins

Have students send you screen shots showing you where they are or what challenges they are facing. Use these in break out rooms, office hour meetings or labs, or after class. 


Writing Details

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  • Published: April 20, 2021
  • Word Count: 710
  • Reading time: ~ 2 minutes
  • Rights: This work is ©2021 All Rights Reserved
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