Problems with presenters

Throughout my classroom schooling, I experienced spellbinding guest presenters. They exuded that winning combination of knowing their subject and knowing how to make it interesting. I now suspect they had honed their presentation with lot of practice in front of lots of students. They had the advantage of presenting only one or two topics, unlike the instructors who stood before us for a quarter, semester or entire school year.

Having been subjected to countless experts that don't know how to teach and trainers who don't know the material, we usually take it for granted that we will be routinely exposed to uninspiring educators. However, as users of PLE 2.0 become more sophisticated at diagnosing learning malfunctions, presenters will get considered as culprits. Here are four possible ways that presenters can do more harm than good:
  1. Most of the time, actions speak louder to us than words. We learn by example. We do as they do, not as they say. From preachers we learn to be preachy. From those who are all talk and no action, we imitate and replicate their approach. From those who can stay on message but freak out when asked a question, we learn to fear what is not already clear in our minds.
  2. As we learn from others we are hoping we can do as they do. Often we decide their expertise is out of reach and way above us. They come across as too sophisticated to be accessible to current abilities and level of comprehension. They make what they know seem so complicated that we cannot follow in their footsteps. We lose confidence in our potential and hope for our future.
  3. We get the impression from presenters whether mistakes are really good or bad. If they get flustered when they slip up, we learn to be equally horrified when we commit errors. If they lose their train of thought when they uncover some confusion in their minds, we also sense how perilous it is to not be right all the time.
  4. When presenters get in trouble with equipment, handouts, or visual aids, we learn a lot from how they handle the situation. If they ask for help and expect cooperation, we take that to heart, However, if they act like the "little red hen" and take care of it all by themselves, we'll unconsciously learn to go it alone ourselves.
In these examples, learning is not disrupted by a presenter being boring or disorganized. The damage occurs from the messages sent by their conduct, reactions and example. As learners become wise to the ways the world shows so much disregard for nurturing each others' learning, they can incorporate this vigilance to the ways presenters can be problems.

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