As the first recorded strike in United States history, New York tailors went on strike in 1768, protesting a wage reduction. After this event, organized labor unions fought for not only improved wages, safe work environments, and health benefits but also supported the end of child labor (History Channel, n.d.).
During my undergraduate years, one class that I enjoyed was Business Ethics and Legal Topics. This course covered moral and ethical principles, statutory and regulatory law in a business environment, and court system structure and processes. In addition to lectures, the professor and class participated in discussions related to various real-life case studies on such topics as employment and labor laws.
Although I cannot think of one lecture in particular, for the most part, our professor delivered regular lectures each week for several hours. Course topics were covered using presentation slides and the textbook for reference. We didn’t sway from this format. We listened as the professor spoke, and aside from occasional case study discussions, this format was standard for our class. I must admit that there were times that I struggled to stay awake, even though I was intrinsically motivated to understand the subject matter. Sadly, the professor doesn’t stand out to me as being a particularly strong speaker or story-teller. Further, simply because someone is a professor does not make one a polished and engaging speaker who knows how to grab the student’s attention.
Authors Silver, Strong, and Perini (2007) describe and show visual organizers to help identify and structure content such as with flowcharts or sequence organizers (p. 29). For some of the more detailed case studies, these types of visual organizers could have helped to clarify the steps in the court cases from event occurrence to final deliberation.
Additionally, Silver et al. (2007) suggest posing a question or activity as a hook to pique student interest (p. 29). Using the hook example at the beginning of this paper, the professor could have started a lecture by asking us if we knew the first time a union went on strike. From there, we could have actively discussed a possible timeframe and situation. Further, we could have talked about how that event played into labor law legislation. Personally, because my father worked as part of the steel worker’s union, I could have bridged information from the class discussion to current union affairs. Last, we could have even staged and acted out a court case with a jury, witnesses and so on.
From an instructional design perspective, learning objects are presented in a learning management system typically, which can have some challenges. For example, the learners must walk through the course on their own and find their motivation to understand the content. There is no live interaction with a trainer or professor for on-going dialogue.
However, I believe there are ways to overcome this challenge. Depending on the topic, the course could be created to help learners recall previous knowledge, such as with my union example. Also, having a slide with a visual organizer would be helpful to show a case study timeframe. Finally, creating a branching scenario where the learner can read about and evaluate an ethical or legal situation then make one of several optional decisions may instill motivation and reinforce memory on the course topic. Silver et al. (2007) indicate to stop every five minutes during a presentation to ask questions and engage different types of learners (p. 28). An instructional designer can design something similar in a learning object where posed questions encourage reflection and comprehension as formative assessments in addition to a final course assessment.
CAST (2019). Universal design for learning. Retrieved from http://www.cast.org.
History Channel (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/19th-century/labor.
Silver, H., Strong, R., & Perini, M. (2007). The strategic teacher: Selecting the right research-based strategy for every lesson (Merrill education/ASCD college textbook series). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.