NBC Learn Higher Ed Subscriber Spotlight: Using NBC Learn to Teach Both In-Person and Online Classes
Teaching the same class in-person and in an online environment can come with its own set of challenges and rewards. On the positive side of the ledger is the ability to resurface information that has already been meticulously prepared for the first version of the class. But sadly not everything translates between instruction that happens online and face-to-face. A robust discussion from the classroom setting that features points, counter points and rebuttals may land differently when it is being viewed through a computer screen. Likewise a lecture that allows students to digest material at their own pace in a virtual setting might have less of an impact when delivered within a classroom.
The vast variances between the two environments have posed unique challenges for Dr. Jane El-Yacoubi, a Political Science professor at Strayer University. The 16 year veteran has watched her university expand dramatically over the years and has wrestled with the best ways to translate her American Government, International Relations, and World Cultures classes across mediums. She has come to rely on digital resources, like NBC Learn, to not only enhance her instruction but to provide consistency between the various forms of her classes.
“I can use NBC Learn in both of those worlds as a teaching tool,” says El-Yacoubi. “It is really engaging. I find everything I need in one of those categories that you have listed on the left side of the NBC Learn.”
With more than 20,000 archival and current resources that have been curated into 40 content specific collections, NBC Learn’s resources provide an ideal way for El-Yacoubi to bring her lecture topics about ancient cultures and current political topics to life.
“We have discussions on them and [NBC Learn] supplements my chapter and my PowerPoint,” says El-Yacoubi. “I get to point where I go, ‘Ok, now we are going to look at a video about that.’”
From videos that explore ancient Egyptian culture and provide insight into King Tut’s reign, to more modern exploration of the civil rights movement, Dr. El-Yacoubi is always able to find something on NBC Learn to enrich her lectures.
“I can go back to Martin Luther King, for example, actually walking down the street and we can see him and talk about civil rights, civil liberties, as we go through those chapters,” said El-Yacoubi. “When we get to other chapters about federalism there are tons of NBC Learn clips about what all of the departments are doing, what’s going on at the Department of Agriculture, or the Department of Energy, and we see examples to support how the federal government works and the state government too. There is something there for every class I do.”
Whether instruction happens directly in front of students or is delivered online, a professor can make a class more relevant by relating it back to events that are currently happening across the world. Dr. El-Yacoubi appreciates the ability to capitalize on the incredible journalism that NBC News is producing daily by embedding current events into her instruction.
“I really like the current events. You can get things as close to today and this week as possible,” says El-Yacoubi. “In the classroom, I’m always interested in the categories of current events and going back to previous events. I will go through my discussion that week, whether it’s on the presidency or it is on something related to International Relations, I go and find the topic subjects and I click it in and we watch them as we go through the class.”
While El-Yacoubi appreciates the tremendous archival and current event resources that are available on NBC Learn, she adores the special campaign collections that have been curated during every presidential election since the launch of the resource in 2008. For a Political Science professor, the daily coverage of life on the campaign trail in these collections is invaluable to teaching students about the political process.
“If we are doing lobbying or interest groups or campaigns. I’ve found a lot of stuff about the campaigns,” said El-Yacoubi. “It’s great to have that live interaction there where the students can see the people and the places and the things that have happened or are happening now.”
Students have the ability to dive back into the twists and turns from the 2008 campaign between Barack Obama and John McCain, relive the drama from 2012 during President Obama’s reelection effort, and even reflect on the most recent vote that elevated Donald Trump to the presidency. Having access to these case studies enables students to wrestle with key moments that affected the eventual outcome and evaluate how different decisions could have produced altered results.
“I always put in different clips from NBC Learn and ask a very intriguing question that inspires critical thinking and shows them something that is happening in the world and ask them, ‘What about this, what do you think about this?’” says El-Yacoubi. “And it brings on so much more discussion and dialogue that students can get engaged in after they have watched it.”
As one continues to dig into all of NBC Learn’s resources, they are likely find pieces that jump out. For El-Yacoubi the stories that resonate the most are ones that not only talk about history and politics, but also pull at the heart strings.
“I like the presidential legacies. I really like the Ronald Reagan legacy and then there’s one for Jimmy Carter’s legacy. Everyone always cries at the end of that one,” says El-Yacoubi. “He’s such a nice person and Jimmy Carter is winning the Nobel Peace Prize for world peace and everyone coming together and it is just so touching to see a president like that. And of course the students today have no idea who Jimmy Carter is, so it’s a nice way to bring him to life for the students.”