Guest Speaker Participation – MSGH 452 – Professor Suzen Moeller & Jackie Wickham

By Christine Scherer

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In MSGH 452 (Winter 2015), Professor Moeller invited Dr. Barbra Lyle to present a series of lecture videos on innovation, health, and nutrition to the course. In addition to these guest videos, Dr. Lyle also participated in the discussion board conversations around her lectures. This additional time spent on the course gave the students an opportunity to not just listen to a guest speaker, but to actively engage with her—a fairly common practice in on-ground courses, but not as often seen online.

In order for Dr. Lyle to participate in the discussion board, she needed to be added to the Canvas course site as a participant. This role does not earn course credit and does not have access to any confidential information, such as grades. The DL staff & NUIT assisted with this process; NUIT created an affiliate netID for Dr. Lyle, and then Jackie added her to the course in the participant role.

As a guest speaker, Dr. Lyle had limited time to commit to the course. Thus, she only actively participated in the discussion board for a limited period of time during the week her lectures were shared. Students in the course were invited to either post their questions for Dr. Lyle in advance, or to be online at the same time as her and engage in a more real-time conversation.

Dr. Lyle and Professor Moeller worked together to craft that week’s discussion board question. Professor Moeller explained that Dr. Lyle “tailored her presentations to the class content, but she also helped craft the discussion board question that week too… and then actively helped the students think through their approach to answering that question/scenario.” Only a few students were able to be online during the guest speaker’s “visit” to their class, but Professor Moeller reported that they really enjoyed having the opportunity to speak with an expert on innovation, ask follow-up questions about the lectures, and get additional assistance and insight on the assignment.

Guest speakers can be a great benefit to classes in many fields, and the technical work involved in bringing a guest into an online course is relatively minimal. The real challenge lies in working with a guest to consider how much time they can commit to the course. Writing, practicing, and recording lecture videos can be a time-consuming process, as is creating a discussion board question and then spending at least a few hours on the board engaging with students. If the faculty and their guest speaker can come to an agreement about how much time the guest can spend on the course, though, this additional resource can be an enriching experience that greatly increases student engagement.

Want to learn about bringing a guest speaker into your SPS online course? Contact Instructional Technologist Jackie Wickham for more information.