Good teaching guide
|This page is specific to EVE University. Other corporations or groups in the game may operate differently.|
For a summary of EVE University's rules and code of conduct, see EVE University Rules.
This page helps new teachers to prepare for teaching at EVE University, and passes on some hints and tips for successful classes. It is not a comprehensive guide to teaching: there are often several good ways to teach a topic, and in time everyone develops their own style. Teaching, in general, is a deep topic which occupies full-time researchers at real-life universities. For new teachers, however, the following advice should be useful.
The core messages of this page can be summarised as follows:
- Prepare for what you want to cover
- Make the class your own
- Keep control of the class while giving it
For practical advice on scheduling, advertising and streaming a class, see Teaching Classes at EVE University.
Sensible preparation underpins good teaching. You don't need to spend hours scripting every part of your class down to the word—this would make your class inflexible—but you do need to make sure you have laid the groundwork for your teaching.
You should make sure you confidently know:
- what you are covering
- what order you are covering it in
- what extra details you might need to cover, depending on questions that get asked.
EVE University's set of "CORE" classes offer pre-designed templates for teaching essential introductory topics, and a CORE class is a great way to get started with teaching. If you'd like to develop a class on another topic, talk to the Teaching Department: they will be happy to help.
Have you ever tried presenting someone else's work? It's harder to give a presentation that you don't know well yourself. Preparing a presentation, or even simply reordering the points in a way that makes the most sense to you, leads to a presentation that flows better and feels more natural as you present it, and so it will feel more natural to your audience as they listen to it.
So, even if you are starting off with a CORE class, go through the following steps. Expect to spend an hour of preparation for an hour-long class.
The best way to prepare for your class is to compose some class notes.
Class notes come in many forms. The level of detail in class notes will depend on your personal preference. At the least, they ought to contain:
- Major headings of the topics you want to cover
- Sub-headings to remind you of the order you want to cover things
- Notes to remind you of the points you want to make
As an example, here is a section of possible notes for a class on research and production:
There is nothing earth-shattering here, but notes such as these will help you remember to cover all the points, and gives a logical sequence to use. By preparing a few bullet-point items to cover, you can still speak fluently without simply reading your notes.
If preparing a CORE class, you can acquire the slide deck PDF from the CORE class page and make notes on paper or in a text file to accompany each slide. The Teaching Department can also provide PowerPoint files of the slides; these come with some electronic notes which you can add to. (If you receive and modify a PowerPoint file for a CORE class, don't pass it to anyone else, to help the department avoid having competing versions circulating!)
If you're at all nervous, you can work through your slides, or the stages of any practical exercise you have planned, and practise saying aloud the kinds of elaborations on your notes which you will be offering. This will ensure a more natural and engaging delivery in the class proper.
For some classes, it is also useful to ready a document containing all the links you might expect to post on Discord, in the rough order of the subjects covered.
Once you've written your class notes, you're almost ready for the class. You know what you want to cover, but students have a habit of asking questions that don't quite fall within your neat class plan.
Depending on the class, there may be little need for additional information. However, most classes have related topics that you might not intend to cover, but that you might be asked about. Think through these related topics, and prepare some short notes. It will help you to manage the class and deal with questions, and will also make you look smart!
For example, for a production and research class, you might not intend to cover Upwell structure use in great detail beyond using them for high-sec research, but you could prepare a separate page of class notes on the basics of player structures. As another example, for a CORE class on weapon systems, it is handy to have a few notes on the very basics of overheating, as this topic sometimes comes up during weapons discussion.
If student questions travel too far beyond the topic at hand, you can always say that this question really does lie well beyond the class's topic; if you know of a regularly-taught class or any other resource which does address the question, point the student towards them. Finally, it's always okay to admit that you don't know something if you don't know it!
In the final run-up to your class:
- check that you have your notes to hand
- check that you have any slides you'll be using
- check that you're comfortable with any Discord streaming you will need to do
Make sure your surroundings are as quiet as you can realistically make them, and that you have water or another soft drink to hand to keep yourself refreshed while speaking.
If you feel nervous, that's okay: mild nerves are completely natural before teaching (and even some very experienced teachers still feel them!). EVE University classes are positive, friendly environments, and if you're new to teaching for the University a Teaching Officer will probably be on hand to back you up.
Log in ahead of time to prepare. You want to be there waiting for students to arrive and start on time. Remember, people are taking time out to listen to you! You are doing a great service, but they might only have limited time, and you owe it to them to keep your end of the bargain.
Giving the class
EVE University classes typically run with audio on the public Mumble server, any slides or game streaming delivered in one of the Discord classrooms, and textual chat or questions in the relevant "class-questions" channel on Discord.
The best classes (in EVE and in real life) are those that:
- have a clear structure;
- are presented well;
- deal efficiently with questions; and
- maintain control of the class.
You'll have a very good idea of how you want the class to run. Letting your students know about this in advance will help them follow you. From a professional education standpoint, the following method of class structure reliably helps people retain information:
- Tell them what you are going to tell them (introduce the broad headings of what you are going to discuss)
- Tell them (go through each item that you want to cover in detail)
- Tell them what you've told them (summarise what you've just told them, and list each of the points you've covered)
At the start of the class, spend a few minutes telling people about the class. You might like to cover:
- A brief overview of what you will be covering
- How you intend to use the chat channel and Mumble
- Whether you want a volunteer to link items for you as you talk about them
- How you intend to deal with questions
- How any practical component will work
People want to be helpful, so use them in a controlled manner. If your class is likely to encourage people to link things in the class text channel, you can designate someone to do this for you.
Putting this together, an introduction for a production and research class might look something like:
Everyone has their own style of delivery—some are chatty, and some are more formal—and there is no single best way to deliver material. The following hints and tips ought to help you when starting out.
- Don't rush.
- Burning through material extremely fast is a very, very common habit in new teachers. It might seem to you like you are taking your time, but often you will be going through things more quickly than you think. Take time to explain things, slow down your delivery, and don't be afraid to pause before answering a question and between each sub-section of the class. You'll come across better for it, and you'll help students, who will be absorbing the material.
- Draw on personal experience.
- Anecdotes and examples from your own experience can really help points stick in students' minds. If you can underpin one of the ideas you're getting across by telling a brief story from your own gameplay, go for it. Stories of lucrative successes and impressive killmails are great, but don't be afraid to tell stories of failure too, especially if they're amusing: everyone appreciates a teacher who can see the funny side of their own past mistakes.
- Summarize detail after delivering it.
- Many aspects of EVE contain dense details fascinating to the numerically-minded. Not all students will have a head for figures, though, so when you've delved into the guts of a complex quantitative topic, make sure you summarize its implications in plain language afterwards. In a class on fitting, for instance, it's nice if students leave knowing the exact percentage reductions involved in stacking penalties, but it's crucial that they leave knowing that adding a fourth Gyrostabilizer to their shield Rupture fit probably isn't worth it. Often this wrapping-up summary after a point is a great moment to rephrase the point or explain it using a metaphor, to give students a second chance at understanding it.
- Always be clear when you touch on matters of opinion, rather than facts.
- For example, "The Caracal is a great ship and I would normally passive tank it for missions, although you'll see people active tanking it as well. It comes down to personal preferences. For a passive tanked Caracal, you'd fit..." is a lot better than "A Caracal must be passive tanked for missions. You need to fit...". The last thing you want is to have people arguing with you in the middle of a class! Recognize up-front that alternative opinions are valid, and then present your own. Doing this also helps the audience trust that when you're stating facts, they really are facts.
- Note what your annoying vocal habits are and damp them down.
- Almost everyone, erm, says "erm", a lot, at first. But with, erm, some practice, you'll, erm, say it less often. Which is, erm, good. Don't feel guilty about this, but do your best to reduce it.
- Don't get side-tracked.
- Especially when questions come up, it is tempting to answer them right away. However, they might relate to a totally different part of the class than the one you're currently talking about. Students follow better if your story/explanation progresses logically. It's fine to say "Thank you for your question; I'm going to get to that in five minutes—and don't worry, I will cover it!"
- Practice makes perfect.
- Players will memorize the subject matter better if they are able to put the knowledge into practice. For some topics, including a practical part in your class boosts its effectiveness. This is, of course, not possible with all classes, but a Research & Production class, for example, can be greatly enhanced by handing out 1-run BPCs at the start of the class. Then, as the class progresses, the teacher talks the students through all the required steps to install, run and deliver their production job. You can stream gameplay from your own EVE client over Discord to show people how to do things. You can spice up some practical exercises by awarding prizes (small prizes, so that students don't envy each other!), e.g. free nanite repair paste or cheap combat drugs for the first students who warp-in on the target in a directional scanner exercise.
Ask people to use the "class-questions" chat channel on Discord for questions. Having questions delivered textually will give you more control over the class and allow you to deal with questions when you want to do so. You can open the floor on Mumble for voice questions at the end of the class if you want.
- If you are going to defer a topic, then let the class know.
- When answering a question from the in-game channel, repeat the question in Mumble before answering it, for anyone who hasn't seen the question.
- If you have a lot of similar questions, then you can take a short bit of time out to consolidate them into a short topics: "Many people are asking questions relating to passive shield tanking, so I'm going to take a bit of time out to cover that now".
- If someone asks a question that you are not sure how to answer, then don't answer definitively. You might think you know the answer, in which case let them know: "Someone has asked how X works. I know the rough details, but it is a bit beyond the scope of this course, so I'll leave that for a more detailed course on X".
- Don't be afraid to say that you don't know something! You're there to teach, not to impress everyone, and many topics in EVE are extremely dense and rich.
The important thing with questions is to deal with them when you want, without letting them disarrange your class structure.
Serious or malicious disruption is rare in EVE University classes, but you need to be able to keep control of the class, and occasionally channel the efforts of people who might want to help but are misdirecting their efforts.
This means that you need to manage:
- anyone chatting in the class channel (ask them to take it to another channel in Discord, or to private messages)
- anyone continually trying to answer questions "for you" in the class channel ("Could those of you responding to questions in the class channel please stop? I know you are trying to be helpful, but it's a distraction, and I intend to cover these points as I go along.")
- anyone misbehaving in channel
- anyone repeatedly speaking or keying up on Mumble because they do not have "Push to Talk" enabled correctly.
In the first instance, courteously ask them to stop. If they don't, then mute or kick them. Ask a Teaching Officer for assistance with this if necessary. Always be polite! The moment you start raising your voice to someone, you've lost control. Stay polite, and your class will be on your side.
"Backseat teaching" presents a slightly subtler and more complex problem: in some circumstances, experienced players might be unable to resist the temptation to chip in with corrections or expansions. Rare, brief corrections of minor mistakes offered in a generous spirit are not normally a problem (and occur in real-life educational settings: every teacher slips up occasionally). If someone is regularly keying up on Mumble and taking the direction of the class away from your plan, though, you should gently ask them to stop.
Immediately after teaching, you might well want to take a brief comfort break. Soon after teaching, though, do note down any ideas for improvement which you had during the class. These could be additional points which you have realised the class might need to cover, or tweaks to its structure, or related topics about which you would now like to know more yourself.
They could also be methodological notes: were there things in your teaching which went badly or well? Reflect on what happened, why, and what you can do to make the teaching (even) better next time. The Teaching Department will gather the evaluation from students, and sum it up for you, passing on any useful feedback or tips that they can offer, within a few days.
Then pat yourself on the back for a job well done, and (perhaps) return to playing EVE!
- Toastmasters International: http://ibmottawa.toastmastersclubs.org/Quick_Guide_To_Public_Speaking.html (toastmastersclubs.org) focuses on public speaking, so this is a great resource for in-game and in-real-life presentations.