I blame the title on sitting in front of a computer day in and day out, setting up breakout rooms, and talking too many times into a dark screen divided into little squares, each one imprinted with names and hardly any faces; despite it all, there I was, on that particular day, hair fully brushed, looking good from the waist up, and full of burnt-out enthusiasm, ready for my lesson on “paraphrasing.”
On that morning, as I have been doing for a while (two years minus a few days), I turned on my computer before class time to make sure everything was in order and that my Google Jamboard was shareable and editable for my students to work in groups.
The class started. As usual, we started by typing our opening salutations in the chat box, “Hello!” “Good morning!” “How is everyone?” (This I have found helps to set the stage for a welcoming space). Everything was moving as expected, so I began the lesson, introduced the topic, provided examples (e.g., the good, the bad, avoiding plagiarism, and acknowledging the source), shared a list of strategies, and, finally, before sending students to their breakout rooms, checked for understanding. It was time for group practice.
I had made a note to remember to share the link to Google Jamboard before opening the breakout rooms, so I did that. I asked students if they had questions before I opened the rooms – no answer, no messages in the chat box. Fine. I proceeded to assigned group roles: “The Notetaker”, “The Timekeeper”, “The Grammar Guru”, “The Presenter”, and gave everyone 15 minutes to complete the activity. I opened the rooms.
My routine is to watch the action as it happens first before hopping from room to room. I want to give everyone a chance to start. This also helps me to perceive the level of interaction. I am always thrilled when I land on a room full of chatter, but not so when I enter a dark room with everyone muted. Thankfully, my presence usually ignites the conversation. It also gives me a chance to explain the activity, again.
As usual, back on the main room, groups share their work; others add feedback by unmuting or typing on the chat box. They can always choose. That habitually leaves five minutes to recap, refresh, and log out.
The Curse of Knowledge
Later on that same day, I received an email from a student who explained that Google Jamboard was a new tool and the student would have liked to have known more about it before working in groups. The student asked if I could share a “how to” video. That confused me. I had asked if anyone had questions. No one did. Then it hit me! I had assumed my quick overview of the tool had sufficed and that by asking if everyone understood, everyone had since no one had answered. Could I blame it on the curse of knowledge? I am not an expert at Google Jamboard, but I had done the activity several times that week with my other classes and it had worked. Was it “Groundhog Day” then?
I thanked my student for letting me know. I searched YouTube for a video, but most of them were for teachers, so I did a screencast, which I have posted on my courses and, best of all, I can use it and reuse it. The student thanked me.
“The Curse of Knowledge” refers to the erroneous presupposition that others will understand what we intrinsically know too well. The term has been used to explain why experts have a hard time explaining concepts and fall into this type of cognitive bias (Effectiviology, n.d.). But since I am not an expert on Google Jamboard, I am not sure if this applies to me.
I might as well blame this incident to my day in and day out routine of getting up, getting ready, walking a few steps, doing my morning thing, and proceeding to sit in front of a computer. This could explain my lived sequel of “Groundhog Day”, the 1993 movie starring Bill Murray.
Yet, I am still not ready to go back into the classroom. Not with a mask for three consecutive hours of teaching plus time in the office. . .
And there you have it. My teaching reflection on this day, and I am not seeing any shadows!
Have you encountered a similar misconstrued presupposition (aka cognitive bias)? How did you go about it?
Effectiviology. (n.d.) The curse of knowledge: A difficulty in understanding less-informed perspectives. https://bit.ly/3M1FZ8u