Chronic Condition Fair

At the beginning of the semester, I had presentations scheduled for two of my courses: one batch scheduled for the beginning of the semester and the other batch scheduled for the end of the semester.

After batch 1, I knew we would not be doing presentations again.

It’s not that they were poorly done. It’s that they were intended for students to learn from one another, and I’m willing to bet this did not happen.

For most of them, anyway.

Sure, there were a handful of students dutifully taking notes, but many were absent or did not appear to be engaged. The energy in the room was low. Students were going through the motions.

This was not having the intended result that I had hoped.

So I pitched an idea to the students for their other class: instead of presentations about chronic conditions, wed have an interactive fair about chronic conditions. The required prep would be largely similar (such as a description of the disease while being mindful of health literacy and demos of helpful apps, agencies and websites to recommend to clients).

The main thing that was changing was how the information would be delivered, and how students would interact with the information.

One new requirement was added: an interactive component (e.g. quiz involving the station visitors) or a live demo of a situation a navigator may encounter (e.g. role-play interaction with client).

My vision was that we’d move the tables (tables with wheels are my favourite!) around the perimeter of the room and half of the class would host their stations with the other half visiting the stations and then they’d swap roles the following week.

There’d also be a “virtual station” by the snack table which housed the fruits and veggies in honour of preventative measures. This station allowed students to view the pre-recorded stations created by the fully online students while having a bite to eat.

1-2 students would visit a station for approximately 5 minutes and then we’d all switch at the same time. Students would be provided a template to take notes of at least one thing they learned at each station that could be helpful for them as future navigators. This would be incorporated into their final mark as incentive to engage.

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The outcome?

Hustle. And. Bustle.

A complete 180 from the presentation experience at the beginning of the semester.

I recorded each station on my cell phone to later upload for the virtual students. While this did involve a few accidental close-ups of my hand, I was mostly worried students wouldn’t be able to hear the information that was being shared at each station. I mean, after all, the classroom was a-hustling and a -bustling.

Thankfully, iPhones have great mics and the information was clear. The hustle and bustle in the background added a nice touch by allowing the online students to get a feel for what it felt like to be experiencing the fair in person.

Students overwhelmingly agreed that they preferred the fair to the presentations. And just check out some of the stations!

The lesson? Don’t be afraid to switch things up! Trust your gut. Be transparent with students. Experiment!

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