Teaching classes

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See also: Teaching Department
EVE University logo 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.

The following guide is not intended to be a comprehensive guide of the way to teach classes. There is no absolutely correct way and in time everyone develops their own style. The aim of the guide is to help a new teacher prepare for their classes and also to pass on some hints and tips for running classes successfully.

Please make sure you have also read Joining The Faculty and How to schedule a class

For those who like executive summaries, we can summarise this approach as:

  • Prepare for what you want to cover
  • Prepare for what you might need to cover
  • Make the class your own
  • Keep control of the class while giving it

Contents

Scheduling your class

Main article: How to schedule a class

To get the best turnout for your class, please schedule your class as detailed here.

Preparation for a class

So, you want to give a class? Good for you - Eve University relies on people giving up their time to share knowledge on subjects that they understand to new players. So, best be prepared for it, right?

One can't emphasise enough the importance of having class notes prepared in advance and having a clear idea of:

  • what you are covering; and
  • what order you are covering it in; plus
  • what you might need to cover depending on questions that get asked.

EVE University's Syllabus Library is a great starting point for this. With any luck, you'll find a pre-prepared class syllabus that you can crib from. These are a great resource, so use them. They'll help to jog your own memory of what needs to be covered and also helps classes taught to have a more uniform feel to them. If you see corrections or improvements that can be made to any existing syllabus in the Library, please add them.

If your class does not yet have a syllabus in the Library, then you can create a new one. Use this template as a starting place - open the Edit window, select and copy the template text, and then close it without saving. Enter the name of your new syllabus (e.g., "ClassName 101") in the search field (upper right corner of the wiki screen), and then select the option to create a new wiki page. Paste the template text into the edit box, and save it. You can then edit this template for your new syllabus.

Class notes

Have you ever tried presenting someone elses work? It is always harder to give a presentation that you didn't write 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 syllabus from the Library, 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:

Research

  • Three things you can do to a BPO
    • material research
    • productivity research
    • copying
    • (Invention - covering later)
  • Material Research
    • reduces material need
    • wastage = unresearched wastage / (1+ML)
    • marginal return
    • there will be a level beyond which ML research is pointless
    • optimal research
  • Productivity research:
    • reduces production time
    • ...

Nothing earth shattering here, but it helps the instructor to remember to cover all the points and gives a logical sequence to do so. By preparing a few bullet point items to cover, you can still speak fluently without simply reading your notes.

Once you've written your class notes, you're almost ready for the class. You know what you want to cover, but students have an annoying habit of asking questions that don't quite fall within your neat class notes.

Additional notes

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 also make you look smart.

For example, for a production and research class, one might not intend to cover POS use in great detail beyond using them for high sec research, but you could would prepare a separate page of class notes on all aspects of POSes. Clearly, there is no need to go into as much detail as you would have for your main topics, as an instructor always has the "that is beyond the scope of this class" option, but giving a general idea of a related topic, if you have time, can add real value to your class.

As another example, for a class on Caldari ships - basically a run-through of each type of vessel, you could prepare a set of notes on shield tanking (active and passive), railguns and missiles, plus drones and ECM. Nothing detailed, but if the question came up, you can then cover the main points.

Final preparations

So, you now have:

  • Class notes, setting out the class as you want to give it
  • Supplementary notes to help deal with questions

The final thing that you might consider doing is to prepare a Note in-game that lists all the websites and items that you might want to link during the course of the class - in the order you'll want to link them.

Giving the class

Advertise the class at least a week in advance, if possible, to ensure that as many people as possible can arrange to attend - longer than that and they might forget. If you only give people a couple of days, you might find attendance to be on the low side.

Follow the procedure listed here for scheduling and promoting your class. The syllabus template includes a format for posting into the Scheduled Classes forum, or you can borrow one from a previously scheduled class there.

For fleet-based classes, it is a great idea to advertise a 15-minute fleet sign-up period when advertising the class. For example: "Fleet will form from 19:45 to 20:00 and class will start promptly at 20:00 - latecomers will not be able to attend." (You might choose to be more lenient on the day, but no need to let people know that in advance!)

On the day of your class, make sure that you have all your notes on hand, and 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 - yes, it is a great service you are doing, but they might only have an hour and you owe it to them to keep your end of the bargain.

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.

Have a clear structure

You'll have a very good idea of how you want the class to run. The best way to make sure this happens is to let your class know this in advance.

Eve University classes are run on the Public Mumble Server (in one of the four Classrooms), and also use the in-game chat channel Lecture.E-UNI (for public classes - use Class.E-UNI for UNI-only events) for posting links and questions.

From a professional education standpoint, the following method of teaching (lesson plan structure) has an incredibly high success rate for the students to retain the information you are teaching them. This structure can be summed up in the following three points:

  • Tell them what you are going to tell them (Introduction, and what you are going to talk about)
  • Tell them (Go through each item that you are wanting to cover)
  • Tell them what you've told them (Summarise what you've just told them and list each of the points you've just 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

People want to be helpful, so use them in a controlled manner:

  • You'll have people linking things you talk about in the class channel, but you can arrange a volunteer in advance to limit channel spam and also to make sure you don't ask things like, "Can someone link an Avatar blueprint, please?" and get 30 different links!
  • Likewise, making sure someone is recording will mean the inevitable "Is anyone recording this?" question is quickly answered.
  • If you are expecting people from outside the UNI to attend, you might arrange a Mumble administrator to keep an eye on Chat.E-UNI chat and drag any out-of-corp attendees into the Class.E-UNI channel.

So, an introduction for a production and research class might look something like:

Hi, thanks for attending my class on research and production.

Before I start, can I check who is recording? Cool, Dierdra is, great. Also, can I ask someone to keep an eye on corp chat and pull in any pesky latecomers to the class channel? Thanks Cazzah.

OK, so I am going to be using Mumble to give the class. What I'd like to do is to use the in-game Class.E-UNI channel for any questions you might have as I go along and keep Mumble quiet. I will be watching the channel and if you ask a question I am going to cover in a few minutes then please don't think I am ignoring you, I will get to it. Also, if topics come up that might need some time to discuss, I've got 20 minutes at the end and we'll cover larger topics then.

For the class, I am going to run through research first, looking at a blueprint in detail and then covering the various research you can do on one and the skills involved. For those who know a little about research already, I intend to cover Invention in detail at the end. After covering the research side of things, I'll go into production, the skills involved and cover a little bit on how to get into production for profit. I'll finally cover invention, which is the production of tech 2 goods using invented tech 2 blueprints.

One thing before I start - can I have a volunteer to link items and blueprints into the in-game channel for me please? Thanks Peter, you are slave for the day...

Presentation tips

Everyone has their own style - some are chatty, and some are more formal - the following hints and tips ought to help you when setting out.

Always make clear when you are stating your own opinion, rather than facts. Recognise that other opinions may exist.
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 with..." is a lot better than "A Caracal should 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 - recognise up front that alternative opinions are valid, and then present your own.
Always be polite.
The moment you start raising your voice to someone, you've lost control. Keep polite and your class is on your side - if someone keeps misbehaving, eject them and carry on. Your class will thank you for dealing with the troublemaker, and you come across a lot more professional.
Don't rush.
You'd be surprised how fast you run through material. 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 for a second or two before answering a question. You'll sound and come across better for it.
Don't worry too much about being recorded. You will probably be pleasantly surprised to hear later that you come across a lot more fluent and not as slow as you thought - and no one minds any nervous hesitations nearly as much as you do. If the content is good, your audience will focus on that - if you can do it with a smooth delivery, so much the better, but it's not required for a good class.
Find out what your annoying habits are and cut them out.
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 get sidetracked.
Especially when questions come up, it is tempting to answer them right away. However, this might be a totally different part of the class than what you are currently talking about. It is much easier to follow for everyone if your story/explanation progresses logically, so do your best not to get sidetracked. If necessary, answer questions with "I'll cover this later on in the class".
Practice makes perfect.
Players will memorize the subject matter better if they are able to put the knowledge into practice. Therefore, adding a practical part to your class greatly enhances its effectiveness, as well as making it more entertaining for the students. 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. Consider adding a practical exercise or two to make your class more interactive and engaging.

Dealing with questions

Ask people to use the in-game Class.E-UNI chat channel for questions. It will give you more control over the class and allow you to deal with questions when you want to do so.

  • 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. Recordings will make more sense and there might be people listening only on Mumble.
  • If you have a lot of similar questions, then take a short bit of time out to consolidate them into a short topics - "A lot of people are asking questions relating to passive shield tanking so I'm going to take a bit of time out to cover that as a topic" - if appropriate.
  • 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 moon mining works - I know the rough details, but it is a bit beyond the scope of this course, so if it is OK with you, I'll leave that for a more detailed course on POSes".

The important thing with questions is to deal with them when you want and to stay in control.

Keeping control

Speaking of staying in control, it's vital. You are the instructor and this is your class.

This means that you need to discipline:

  • anyone chatting in the class channel (ask them to take it private)
  • 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 is a distraction and I intend to cover 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, be polite and ask them to stop.

If they don't, then do kick them from the Mumble Class.E-UNI channel and in-game chat channel. Using the in-game channel commands, you can choose to mute them for a period as well.

Wrapping up

After the class is over, you will need to fill out a class report and update the forum thread for the class. For details, please refer to the "How to Schedule a Class" page.

If you recorded the class you can follow the guide on Editing and Uploading Class Recordings to post your recording online.

Summary

  • Prepare for your class, including those optional questions and topics that might arise
  • Make it your own class, presented in the order and manner that you feel comfortable with
  • Control the class and questions

Other Resources

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.

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