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Teachers Talk

Miya Komori-Glatz

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Dr. Miya Komori-Glatz is Senior Lecturer and a course coordinator at the Institute for English Business Communication at WU. Having started her academic career in Cambridge, she also taught in Austria and Spain. In 2021, she was awarded WU’s innovative teaching award for her course concept for seamless learning. In this issue, she talks about her experiences and learnings in teaching, and shares tips for a successful (seamless learning) course.

How would you describe your teaching style?

Regardless of whether we are online or on campus, my teaching is highly student-centred and interactive. I now use a blended learning approach that gives students autonomy to learn content input at their own pace and space, and then apply what they have learned in class. I am also increasingly taking a more constructionist approach and trying to be a facilitator to help students learn from each other, and I love seeing how far they can go when they are given room to spread their wings.  

What were your most important key learnings?

One of the things I learned during the pandemic was that online and on-campus teaching both have advantages, but these are very different, so I now try to combine and maximise the learning potential of each. I do this by having students engage with material at three levels: 1) reading/watching media to gain knowledge; 2) testing their own knowledge through quizzes and creating written or spoken summaries; 3) disseminating that knowledge by creating their own quizzes for other students to use as revision or applying it in roleplays and simulations.

Online is great for the first two stages, but also for interacting with each other – giving feedback in forums and peer reviews or doing follow-up work. It also gives less confident students time and support so that they too can succeed. But nothing can replace the buzz of an in-person class when students are working on something together to apply and demonstrate what they have learnt in the third stage.

What would you like to try out in teaching?

I have been piloting an intercultural exchange with a colleague at NHH Norwegian School of Economics where our students come together for one online class to do a small negotiation and experience intercultural communication, and the feedback from both sets of students has been overwhelmingly positive. I’d love to do more of that and use the opportunity to have international guest speakers join my classes via Zoom. I’d also be intrigued to see if the metaverse and virtual reality make online communication feel smoother and more natural, and what opportunities they offer for intercultural exchanges.

What are your tips for successful implementation of a (seamless learning) course that you can give to interested colleagues?

My tips for seamless learning centre around 3 C’s: Clarity, Communication, and Community. Clarity refers to making both tasks and assessment criteria transparent. Try to keep your structure as simple and logical as possible and provide an overview of assignments and due dates. Communication is key to making sure students know what they need to do, and, especially with unfamiliar online environments or tasks, giving them a model as well as instructions (especially screenshots) and rubrics is very helpful. Building a learning Community both online and in person encourages the students to support and learn from each other. Interactive tools such as brainstorms and quizzes on Mentimeter & co, breakout rooms or using collaborative documents – in and outside the classroom! –  are easy ways for students to apply and share their knowledge. Finally, reward interactive activities with a small number of points to encourage participation (3-5% seems to work well), especially if they take place outside class time.