In Langara’s Advanced Teaching Seminar, Langara instructors write a fictional story in the first person, highlighting, “some kind of ‘problem’, or challenge, or dilemma, or puzzlement” they have experienced in their teaching practice. The “story will, at some level, be a partial description of the landscape of good teaching (even if the teaching in the story itself isn’t – on the face of it – seen as ‘good’). A story is a snapshot of what good-and-improving teachers sometimes experience in their practice.” Woven informally into each story are the concepts and phrases pulled from various assigned course readings (see references).
For more information about the Advanced Teaching Seminar or to inquire about registering, e-mail Carolyn Wing, Educational Development Coordinator at TCDC (email@example.com).
B means Bold
BCAP (Business Computer Applications) is a course that teaches students the functions of Microsoft Office software. The course outline (BCAP course outline 2005) required the students to purchase a $130 Microsoft Office textbook and explore the chapters on Word, Excel, Access and PowerPoint tools; the textbook was a good reference though the publication was outdated. Technology plays an important part of education and business; however, current and accurate references online seemed like a better investment than purchasing a $130 textbook.
While reviewing the course outcomes, evaluation tools and rubrics, I was reminded I want to leave the students with tools and techniques they can apply in the working world, and I want to teach with this in mind.
Having taught the BCAP course once with the textbook, I knew I wanted to explore another way to show how these software tools could be used in the context of business. I knew the students understood that B means Bold and they were ready for answers to why, where and how they could explore uses for Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint software tools.
I took the student comments, “where am I ever going to use this stuff” to the next level of exploration and we ditched the textbook. Instead, I gave student groups a hypothetical $650 budget ($130 x 5 students in a group) to start a business. With renewed excitement (me and the students) we began the course with a new course outline and discussed the process of evaluation. I started the course with where the students were already using the software in their studies and work environment. We talked about Microsoft as a company being a solution-focused business and the software, like Excel, was created to solve business problems. Sitting on the edge of opportunity I knew the next stage of the course was going to be messy and my job was to put structure, teachable moments and create space for exploration. The students were tasked with defining a small business startup and they decided if their business would sell a product or service. They explored client databases, business organization charts, marketing plans and many other tools. Through their market research, the student groups decided their roles and drafted a business plan. The business plan became the core document the group used as the rationale for their Access client database, Access human resource database, Excel income/profit/loss statement, Excel payroll linked to Access human resource database, Word company logo, Word business plan, Word business cards, Word reporting including table of content, headers/footers, hyperlinks, referencing and PowerPoint business tools for client presentation and final BCAP course presentation.
Reminded by the messiness of group dynamics, the ambiguity my goal was to keep the groups on purpose with the balance of research, exploration, and timelines. I taught the students with a mock business and provided templates that I challenged the students to modify and improve upon; I was aware of the need for structure, guidelines, and clear instruction. My goal was to meet the many different learning styles by providing enough structure and challenge that could excite the students to explore their own deep learning.
I was proud of the group commitment, ownership of the business ideas and depths of learning the students wanted to explore.
Years later while building the Small Business BC Education Centre a past BCAP student was in a small business education seminar sharing his business plan which was the same tool we used in our BCAP class years prior. This student said it was during the BCAP course that he knew he wanted to explore being an entrepreneur and he started his own business using the tools we created in class.
I’m reminded that creating a safe environment for students to explore fail and learn can expand their beliefs and build confidence.
Understanding how the students were learning, how the class activities and application of the tools were being applied supported the theory of good pedagogy; the understanding of how learning takes place and the philosophy and practice that supports that understanding of learning. The foundation for pedagogical leadership includes the instructor and students as well as all the stakeholders outside the College. The activities that I designed for the course were meant for personnel learning and exploration of concepts like entrepreneurship.
~This story was written by Jen Reid, Instructor, Co-op & Career Development Centre
- The Skillful Teacher( Brookfield, 1990)
- The Courage to Teach (Palmer,1998)
- What the Best College Teachers Do (Bain, 2004)
- Excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship In A Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910
- Action Theory: Increasing Professional Effectiveness in College Teaching (Musson,2015)
- A Community of Practice And Your Professional Development (Musson, 2015)
- Of Telos, Teaching, and Great Things (Musson, 2015, 2017)