Making Learning Feel More Real with Interviews

When starting a course design, I always ask my SMEs what skills the students are to possess or demonstrate when employed in industry. This helps me use the right design techniques to provide more authentic learning experience for learners. One of the elements that I use in my courses is interviews with industry experts. It helps the students gain some insights about the industry from an expert. Further, I turn these interviews into activities or discussions. There will either be some discussion questions or some activities such as role-plays and other relevant ones depending on the course content. It is important that learners analyze their learning after watching the interviews. I prefer to use video interviews if we have the resources. If not, I’ll opt for audio or text at the last resort.

I recently had a literature course to design and I was thinking how to make it more interesting since the content was merely text with analysis of poems and novels of local writers. I thought it would be more interesting if the learners see the writers and hear from them about their works they were to analyze. I used them as an anchor to expand the learners’ understanding of the writers’ works. This is just like talking to an artist and asking him or her why or how s/he created an art piece and ask about their feelings and thought process.

Now about using interviews, you can decide to do them in different formats, video, audio, or text, but the most interesting one for the learners is the video, since they can see the person’s face too. However, for this particular project, I had some limitations in getting all those writers and poets to come to our studio or going to their location, hence I had all three types of interviews in the course.

In this process, there were a few writers who couldn’t do the video, so I sent them the interview questions to do an audio podcast or text interview. In other words, the audio podcast was a monologue due to limited resources and time constraint; thus, I added the list of questions in the course content before the podcasts, so the students would read the questions either before or during the audio.

For video interviews, I asked my AV team to add the questions as text in the videos, since the focus was on the writers not the interviewer. But during the video shoot, we did an actual interview to make them sound more natural, with the writers in the frame only. After editing and post-production of the videos, the questions would appear first and then the video would resume playing.

While you might think having a one-on-one interview could be more engaging as it is the norm, I suggest not to limit your choices and insist on it if you have limited resources or time constraint, unless you intend to use probing as a technique. In this case, you do need to engage your SME to conduct the interview. The objective of the interviews is to optimize learning.

Overall, here are some ways to make your course more authentic using interviews with experts:

  • One-on-one interview while students can see both persons, i.e., the interviewer and interviewee
  • Only the interviewee with questions displayed on the screen
  • Audio podcasts with both persons engaged in the interview_one the interviewer and the other the interviewee
  • Monologue audio podcasts with questions provided in the course content
  • Text interviews, which are not too long

Do you use any other ways to engage your learners in a more authentic learning experience?

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