How-To of PICT

The logistical elements of PICT pertain to the need for a multi-faceted awareness of existing institutional structures, of regional academic or scholarly expectations, of access to materials and resources, of coordination over time zones and term schedules, and of pedagogical best practices within and across disciplines. The mechanics of PICT are informed by the core principles of the model and reflect a structured approach to teaching and learning.

1. Identify a collaborating partner

Do you share an interest with a colleague elsewhere in an aspect of research or curriculum that has potential to be explored by teaching together? Is there a complementarity of theory, method, or expertise between you that would make your collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? Have you a great idea for a course module and would like to use the PICT website to announce your idea to prospective partners? Once your idea has led to the beginnings of a partnership, move to the next stage of preparation: discussions about the practicalities of collaboration should begin at least six months before the class starts, and preferably nine to twelve months in advance, in order to be integrated into departmental planning.

 

2. Use the PICT website

The website provides a step-by-step, largely templated process for partnering, proposing, planning, and delivering collaborative courses through PICT. It contains lists of past, current, and proposed courses, and of participating instructors. It also includes a general rationale for the project, as well as testimonials from instructors and students, original peer-reviewed articles on PICT-based teaching and learning, and a bulletin on the latest developments and insights.

 

3. Consult early

Does your module start in September? Start the discussion with your dean or department head as early as May – earlier if there are implications for class scheduling and assignment of duties.
Consult with the administrative head of your unit as soon as possible in order to identify and schedule the course in question. For administrative convenience, the most efficient option may be to locate a PICT collaboration within an existing course structure in a course that is part of normally assigned duties. The course may become aligned regularly with collaborative teaching, where its inclusion of a unit or more of PICT is viewed as the given duty of the faculty member to whom the course is assigned at each site. In all cases, it is necessary to consider carefully the place of PICT-related activity within the institution-specific course slate and institutional practices regarding assignment of duties and scheduling of classes. Similarly, the evaluation of students’ work should follow the requirements of the students’ own institution. In other words, the collaboration should fit into and not disturb regular institutional norms at both sites, and both collaborating instructors should work to respect these practices at each other’s institution.

 

4. Gear up for intercultural awareness

To focus and stimulate class discussion, we’ve been using Geert Hofstede’s six dimensions model of national culture.
Plan for a preliminary session in which the students at both sites discuss and test concepts of cultural difference. This class could be led by a student peer mentor.

 

5. Estimate the time commitment

The commitment of time will be a primary consideration in deciding whether to develop and implement a new method of teaching. Therefore even a broad estimate of this commitment may help those who are considering incorporating PICT into their own regularly assigned teaching. The time factor will be reduced by using the templates and other resources in the PICT website. For a module in a pair of courses and lasting four weeks, assuming an exchange of four classes (two by each participating instructor), the following elements stood out for previous PICT instructors:

Functions

Time Estimates

Communicating to plan the focus, materials, activities, learning objectives, and other outcomes of the classes (and this stage of planning is likely to expand to take account of differing curricular and pedagogical models)
Adapting the plan for the classes to be given at each site to reflect different levels of preparation and methods of learning
Including a preliminary class on intercultural competency
Assuming that engaging with the distant site requires a separate period, the weeks’ teaching will be an hour longer when one is teaching thus and an hour shorter when one’s distant partner is taking a period in one’s own class
Communicating between collaborating instructors to share impressions and advice during and after the module
Communicating with students from the distant site to discuss their questions and comments about aspects of the focus, materials, and activities of the class
Over the four–eight weeks leading up to the commencement of the module itself, we’ve used about two hours. Templates in the website produce efficiencies in planning.
— in the month leading up to the commencement of the shared module, one hour per instructor ||fsmldkfskdfkmfd
With institutional support, this could be led by a student peer mentor.
— but still, the “off”-hour will be used up when one is present to convene, support, and/or respond — so that the module may contain as many as two additional class hours oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo oooo
We’ve used about an hour for this.   instructors to share impressions and advice during and after the module
We budgeted about an hour for this during the module, not taking into account any subsequent discussion about, e.g., student writing.
Planning, delivering, and evaluating a four-week module happens over about eight weeks. All told, the process is likely to involve as many as seven hours of additional engagement. Is this a worthwhile use of an instructor’s time? Absolutely, and especially when the investment strengthens a valuable professional/institutional connection, and when the module extends opportunities for both instructors and students to achieve scholarly, pedagogical, and professional goals.

 

6. Design the curriculum together

Start to develop a curricular focus that draws on complementary areas of expertise. This focus could involve a theme, problem, or project: articulate the unit by giving it an identity and purpose that is integral to each participating course. The collaboration between the participating instructors may be strengthened if each of them has an equal role in designing the focus for the curricular unit(s) involved. The curricular focus of the collaboration should provide a meaningful intersection between programs at the participating institutions. The participating instructors, therefore, do well to clarify their roles, expectations, time commitment, and also their further research opportunities arising from the collaboration. It would be worthwhile at this stage to identify ways in which study at the participating sites will involve varieties of cultural, technical, linguistic, and procedural difference. In some subjects, these kinds of difference may be central to the students’ learning; but in almost all collaborations, the design of the lectures will be more successful for taking these differences into account. The pacing, focus, and style in which one lectures will change, even if the curricular content is supposedly the same. Explanations will need to be given at one site and not the other. Preparing for such differences will likely result in a somewhat slower, more deliberate pace than would be the case with a curricular unit offered at one site only.

 

Course design is a shared activity:
• identify desired learning outcomes—and take into account the ways these converge or diverge at each site;
• identify level and length of intersection (a single module? a whole course?);
• identify materials common to both classes that enable intersecting teaching and learning experience (germane to the issue and the learning outcomes; accessible to all students);
• identify the type of student project to enable productive learning outcomes in relation to the common issue;
• identify how the lecturing and student interaction will be organized—practically (as in eight and 11, below) but also with attention to students’ progressive development of technique, knowledge, practice, or project preparation
• identify the technology required (including checking for availability of suitably equipped rooms).

 

7. Schedule for equity and accessibility

Does your module start in September? Start the discussion with your head as early as May – earlier if time differences limit options for assignment of duties. For example, scheduling between Saskatoon and Ahmedabad (with a time difference of 11.5 hours) means the time slot for classes at both sites should be early in the morning: 8:30 CST and 8:00 IST.
To achieve the most successful engagement of each participating instructor in effective teaching at both sites, plan as an instructor to focus your energies and attention to one site at a time. PICT is designed to accommodate locations far apart in time zones, so that it is often impracticable to schedule the two classes simultaneously. The courses should be scheduled so that the regular times are as convenient as possible for real-time lectures from both sides.
Why schedule thus? Because, as far as possible, the success of PICT depends on the real-time delivery of lectures by online video/audio link. Especially for undergraduate courses with large enrolments, we see this delivery requiring two iterations of the same lecture material, one to the home site and the other to the distance site. It is necessary for most instructors to focus their attention on one set of students; splitting this attention likely diminishes pedagogical effectiveness and certainly increases the instructors’ stress. The mode of delivery demands a focus of instructorial energies and attention toward one site; and adjustments of pace, language, and emphasis will necessarily take place in response to cues from the students at that site.

 

8. Schedule for symmetry and sustainability

Keep the actual lecture exchange simple.
A primary aim is to minimize exertion and inconvenience. Experience so far has shown that it makes sense in terms of pacing and endurance to think about one hour of international lecturing each week at each site. Similarly, it makes sense to maintain comparability of scheduling at both sites. In a standard unit of four weeks, therefore, each instructor would give two distance lectures: in an on-week, this would mean one hour more of lecturing; in an off-week, this would mean one hour less (when the collaborating partner would be lecturing in one’s own class). In advance, identify all holidays and institutional reading breaks occurring during the period of collaboration so that appropriate accommodations can be made to scheduling and staffing.

 

9. Use PICT principles to select and design materials

Under Canadian copyright law, for example, “fair dealing” means that readings should thus comprise less than 10% of total volume and no more than a single item from a published collection or periodical.
Course materials should be freely accessible by all registered students at all participating sites. Check library holdings (especially databases) for readings; consult the area librarian where materials need to be ordered. For free access to materials, work consistently by the conditions of fair dealing as identified in the copyright/intellectual property law of the countries in which the participating courses are located.

 

10. Work for simple functionality—and anticipate glitches

In slack.com, for example, consider using a video capture application such as Loom.
Identify a platform (e.g. Moodle, slack.com) that is freely available and widely familiar—and that is good enough in terms of breadth, stability, and quality of functionality. The PICT team is currently exploring slack.com, with its emphasis on collaborative design as well as its ease of integration of strong, light applications, e.g. in lecture capture and videoconferencing. It
may be valuable, for example, to share documents and project slides during the lectures. In advance of the first class, test the capacities of the classrooms being used for the quality of image and voice as transmitted. Ensure that the systems can be run by an assistant. Consider recording mini-lectures for use in case of transmission failure during the scheduled hour of delivery. Such a lecture might present a key element in the material for the class to discuss.

 

11. Move from collaborative teaching to collaborative learning

Integrate student communication within their assigned, evaluated work.
Lectures, assignments, and meetings can be prepared to facilitate two-way communication. To address potential barriers of language and differences of approach, notes geared to the lectures can be provided in advance to students at each site. One-minute memos after each lecture provide an opportunity for students to respond swiftly to the experience of the lecture. Such memos ask simply for students to identify an important thing learned, a lingering question, and any other point calling for attention. Fully collaborative work may call for students to communicate in pairs or groups at a distance: this communication could take the form of sharing and commenting on one another’s perceptions and questions, and move toward collaborative ten-minute memos; the collaboration could lead to a larger project with greater value for evaluation. Each participating instructor can hold what we call “flexi-hours,” which enable direct consultation by Skype or in person with students at each site.

 

12. Plan for student-student interactions

When facilitated by guiding questions or assignments with specific grade values, these interactions can support meaningful, constructive, productive exchanges. For example, prior to submission to the instructor, the one-minute memos can be sent to student partners at the other site for peer response. E-mail exchanges between students at different institutions can be guided by sets of staged, open-ended questions. Blog posts can be a required element of the course. Paired assignments might follow independent work, where students at different institutions collaborate to compare their approaches, to contexts, methods, analyses, or conclusions.
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