At some point not so long ago, I wondered why I was a little less enthused for teaching my university classes. And that's when I realised that the traditional lecture is the equivalent of a long, slow, jog. Booooring. There are certainly some educational benefits if the students are able to maintain concentration, but they are just as likely to get caught napping and fall off the back end of the treadmill. As this penny dropped, I realised that my university classes could never be the same again.
Somehow, I needed to get aspects of the HIIT concept my lecturing. HIIT is supposed to be the fastest, most efficient way to get fit. Could the same be true for learning technical content?
So I turned to my gym choregraphy notes. I looked at the workout sequence and changed my lecture plans to follow a similar structure. I created interval based learning activities - one problem based activity for each key learning objective. My flipped classroom structure also helped here.
My 'lecture' class now starts with a warm up – a simple, confidence building activity. As the class progresses, the activities get harder and more intense. They are fast and furious. Moving. Doing. Seeing. Touching. Debating. Presenting. Problem Solving. Experiencing. And to cool down? Reflecting.
Freely available online tools have been a key in helping me create the collaborative interactive learning space in my classroom. I have listed many here in my conference paper on this same topic that I am presenting next week at the International Symposium for Remote Sensing of the Environment (Berlin, May 2015).
Yes, this class has taken me a lot of effort and planning to set up. But now it's so much more fun and rewarding to teach! How many other university subjects start with Speed Dating? For my students, this is an integral ice breaker.
I challenge anyone reading this (if anyone ever does!) to have a go at HIIT in their academic teaching. I'd love to hear of your results. Please refer to my paper for more details, and also have a look at the poster below.