Oct 25
From High-Stakes Failure to Low-Stakes Success

Clayton Lorraine, an instructor at the Language Training Centre, spent many an hour teaching his ESL students the finer points of PowerPoint to prepare them for their first live presentation in his language class. And he spent many an hour being disappointed in the results.

“I could teach all the tips and tricks, font size and style, not too much text on slides, etc., but then often the students would make those mistakes anyway," he explained. So, he decided to take a different approach.

Clayton Lorraine LTC profile.jpgInstead of doing all the teaching up front to prepare the students for the high-stakes experience of a live presentation in front of their peers, Clayton put the students into learning groups, assigned topics and set them free to learn about presenting with PowerPoint by exploring for themselves.

“Each week, one group would present, and then the class brainstormed what was good and what could be improved," said Clayton. “We used a shared document in Word 365 (via a link posted to LEARN) in which everyone entered their ideas and suggestions. They covered design, delivery and content with their comments."

The students came to their own realizations about best practices with PowerPoint; for example, images are important, weird fonts are terrible, etc.

Clayton transformed a high-stakes graded assignment into an experiential learning activity with the focus on learning rather than marks. “Taking the pressure off the presenting part of the activity made it possible for the students to focus more on their delivery, the structure of the presentation, and the dynamics of their group," said Clayton. “Flipping the responsibility onto them to notice what's effective and what isn't draws the information out of them. The other way is too directive, and they don't explore."

Clayton has been teaching presentations this way for over two years and is transferring this learner-centered approach to other topics, including email writing. “Knowing something doesn't necessarily lead to application of that knowledge," he said. “Nudging them to notice what could be improved translates to meaningful learning for them."


Are you using learner-centered approaches in your teaching? Do you have questions about how you could adapt a topic to this approach? Sign in above, then comment below to join the conversation. ​



Love the adaptations you ma...

Love the adaptations you made to your lessons Clayton!
I think anytime students are assessing/ judging/ critiquing great learning will happen.
Picture Placeholder: Michael Whalen
  • Michael Whalen
 on 10/25/2019 9:02 AM

Great flip, Clayton! There'...

Great flip, Clayton! There's definitely a lot more ownership embedded in this approach.
Picture Placeholder: Sherry L Seymour
  • Sherry L Seymour
 on 10/25/2019 10:42 AM

That's a great idea, Clayto...

That's a great idea, Clayton! We might borrow it!
Picture Placeholder: Gail Horvath
  • Gail Horvath
 on 10/25/2019 11:20 AM

Clayton, both the idea and ...

Clayton, both the idea and your perseverance are inspirational!  I cannot wait to brainstorm ways that I can use a similar technique in my classes.  There are ample areas where students would benefit from collaboration in processes, as opposed to collaboration just for an end product. 
Picture Placeholder: Lindsay Mulholland
  • Lindsay Mulholland
 on 10/25/2019 11:41 AM

Thanks Clayton for sharing ...

Thanks Clayton for sharing this. I am sure your students are not only learning better but are having more fun! Great example of learner-centred approach.
Picture Placeholder: Said Hassan
  • Said Hassan
 on 10/25/2019 1:09 PM

So nice to see Clay and his...

So nice to see Clay and his innovation featured on the Faculty Fridays blog! Thank you for sharing.
Picture Placeholder: Carleigh Nicole Friesen
  • Carleigh Nicole Friesen
 on 10/28/2019 10:13 AM

Nice work Clayton! - It tak...

Nice work Clayton! - It takes courage to relinquish control of what people learn and how they will learn it.  A good lesson for us all.
Picture Placeholder: Judy McGuirk
  • Judy McGuirk
 on 10/29/2019 10:34 AM

My students always greatly ...

My students always greatly benefit from Clayton's innovative approach to teaching presentations! Thanks Clayton!

Picture Placeholder: Paige Sneesby
  • Paige Sneesby
 on 10/31/2019 2:09 PM

I love the collaborative el...

I love the collaborative element in this lesson, Clayton. Using the software and doing the work to jointly produce a better product goes way beyond just teaching proper presentation by PowerPoint. Awesome!
Picture Placeholder: Ron Rogge
  • Ron Rogge
 on 11/1/2019 9:07 AM

 I love how this method cap...

 I love how this method captures the essence of student-lead action-oriented feedback and learning from fellow classmates!
Picture Placeholder: Rebecca Hiebert
  • Rebecca Hiebert
 on 11/1/2019 9:22 AM
1 - 10Next