Single Presenter Model
The single presenter model is the most widely used method within the OLLI program at UConn. It is a simple and straight forward approach to creating a course. As a presenter you are the focal point of instruction and source material. There are multiple teaching tools that can be used with this model and the other models covered in this section. These tools will be discussed later on. Concerning this specific model, there are a few universal advantages and disadvantages.
- As almost all OLLI at UConn members are very familiar with this course model, very little or no preparation is required to orient the members to this method.
- As the members will be receiving instruction from a sole presenter, they will only have to adapt to one specific teaching style.
- A single teaching style can narrow the scope of a course and add presenter specific bias. This can be overcome by remaining as neutral as possible when presenting the subject matter. You can also have sources available for members to access if they want to learn more about something touched on in the course.
- Another related disadvantage of the single presenter model is that as the focal point of the entire course, the presenter’s knowledge of a given subject matter is often tested. A well prepared presenter can avert most concerns in this instance.
Managed Course Model
The managed course turns the single presenter into that of a coordinator who manages multiple guest lecturers, media and/or other sources. In this model members are exposed to multiple approaches of subject matter tied together by the course coordinator.
- As coordinator you do not need to have an extensive knowledge of the subject matter for the class to be successful. By bringing in outside experts and materials, the coordinator provides the connections between great perspectives, but does not need mastery in any specific sub-category of the material.
- A more comprehensive understanding of a course. Members attending a course with this model will typically experience a greater breadth of knowledge than could be conveyed by a solitary presenter.
- As coordinator you must manage logistics. You need to ensure that guest presenters are confirmed, punctual, have good directions, etc. Logistical issues are typically alleviated by adequate prior preparation and the use of contingency plans, in the case of an absence or inability to use certain sources.
- Getting guest lecturers to present their material in tune with the general flow of the course can also present a challenge. A guest may come in with a certain idea in terms of presentation and discussion. It is important to have prior dialogue with your guests and convey how you would like the material to be presented so that it connects with the other presentations to form a cohesive whole.
- This course model can be challenging, but the benefits of coordinating a comprehensive approach are evident. The payoff to such an approach can be accomplished through very specific planning, coordination, and a few “plan B’s” in anticipation of the unexpected.
Team Teaching Model
The team teaching approach is when two or more presenters work in coordination to share teaching responsibilities within the classroom. This can involve changing roles each time the class meets, maintaining separate roles throughout the course, or coordinating other collaborative models. The goal of this model is to combine the strengths of multiple presenters.
- With multiple presenters committed throughout the course, not only do you have a wider knowledge base available, but members also have the advantage of working with two instructors—this can enhance the learning and discussion.
- Another great aspect of this model is its reliability. If one presenter is absent for any reason, the class can continue without postponement. Given the length of a given semester, continuity is supported by team teaching in this scenario.
- As in the managed course model, it is sometimes difficult to coordinate a positive flow of material in team teaching. Fortunately, this model puts the partnered presenters in close contact which should help to facilitate intensive collaboration. It is important to set a collective mission and syllabus for the course prior to heading into the classroom.
- It is also possible to have occasional discord between presenters in the classroom in terms of lecturing and discussion which is often referred to as “stepping on each other.” Much the same as the issue of positive flow in learning, team teaching presenters should engage in prior planning to map out roles and responsibilities in the classroom in order to be coordinated and rehearsed for the members.
- Team teaching is very effective and can have very positive implications for members. As a presenter, it may be beneficial to look at what other presenters are teaching at OLLI and brainstorm possible collaborations. Such a shared approach can not only benefit OLLI members, but you as an educator.