Ask an professor today: Getting 19- and 20-year-olds to pay attention for 50 minutes can be challenging. Double that when the course commander coordinator insists that all professors give essentially the same lecture.
To be sure, some of the topics in my Introduction to Information Systems class appeal to more to members of iGen than others. On one side of the spectrum, artificial intelligence and privacy tend to evoke strong student reactions—or at least sustain their interest throughout the class. On the other, few subjects typically meet with more indifference than business processes.
This is not to say that covering business processes is not important. It most certainly is. During my consulting career, I saw firsthand hand companies found themselves in trouble by not following their own processes. Sometimes this meant hiring me for four to six months to fix a complicated data problem. Still, as a professor, I get it.
So how does a professor make a mundane subject more interesting?
A little humor never hurts.
First, by integrating real-world events. I could think of no better example than the Wells Fargo scandal. From everything that I’ve read, the company’s culture and lack of internal controls led to a $2-billion fine and multiple class-action lawsuits.1
Second, a little humor never hurts and Nathan Fielder is nothing if not funny.
Rather than hearing crickets, I hear students laughing. More important, they gain an understanding of a key—but not exactly riveting—topic. In the future, I’d like to add more active-learning exercises to the class like I did with my capstone courses. For now, though, I have to work within certain constraints.
I’ve said many times before that there’s no such thing as a boring topic—only a boring speaker. The same applies in the classroom.
What say you?
- Here is another one.