Feeding the Instructor: Integrating the Performative Aspect of Teaching into the Online Classroom

Concurrent Session 5

Brief Abstract

Through an understanding of methodology and an ability to engage students, teachers respond to and are inspired by their students’ interactions. For online teachers, the classroom requires a combination of technology, performance, and pedagogy. This workshop will focus on redefining the performative aspect of teaching to better feed online teachers.


I am currently a Professor and interim Associate Dean in the School of Arts, Humanities, and Education at American Public University Systems. My previous roles were department chair (8 months) and faculty director (7 years). I have been an educator for 25+ years, with 13 years in online higher education. I love what I do and the transformative power of education, where we make people's dreams come true by helping them become even better, reaching their personal and professional goals.

Extended Abstract

In the world of sports and music, the ability to make subtle changes while in the midst of a performance are enhanced by the knowledge and skills musicians and athletes learned in the past; thus, in response to the interactions in their milieu, they use past learning to adapt their behaviors for optimum outcomes. However, these changes do not require a lot of thought; rather, they require action. Athletes and musicians, then, develop a sort of muscle memory through deep learning and consistent practice

Consider soccer players, for example. When it comes time to shoot on goal, they do not stop and spend time rehearsing what their coaches taught. Instead, they execute. They shoot. And sometimes they score. Learning becomes automatic, and knowledge and skills quickly shift in response to the interactions in the environment (Schiavio, Gesbert, Reybrouck, Hauw, & Parncutt, 2019). The performative aspect of these disciplines, therefore, is more flexible than simply applying rules within any specific context; the ability to learn from and adapt to context comes from “a rich variety of self-monitoring and evaluation strategies” (Schiavio, Gesbert, Reybrouck, Hauw, & Parncutt, 2019, para. 5). The reaction of athletes and musicians to their performative contexts is not unlike the reactions of reflective teachers to the engagement of learners in the teaching and learning environment.

Like musicians and athletes, teachers, too, have internalized the knowledge and skills of their disciplines to allow them to quickly respond to social interaction in their performative environments: the classroom. By learning to monitor their own performance and adapt to the engagement of their learners, they are often inspired to sharpen and shift their own behaviors. In fact, the performative aspect of teaching often feeds teachers. They thrive in their ability to adjust their behaviors to the needs of their learners.

For some teachers, however, the performative aspect may seem more natural in a traditional classroom because of the built-in physical component. While hybrid or fully asynchronous classes present “a dynamic liminal space” (Campbell, 2016, para. 11), interactions in a virtual environment may limit—or, at least, require the teacher to redefine—the physicality of the performative aspect of teaching. Online teaching, however, is simply another context that requires subtle changes to adapt to a more technology-rich teaching and learning environment. With a change in the environment, teachers must orient themselves differently, especially in a fully asynchronous classroom where they are an unseen presence. They must work more circumspectly with facial expressions and gestures in Zoom or Skype classrooms, and they must engage with other members of the teaching and learning environment in ways that recognize the shortcomings of the virtual world while, at the same time, builds on its strengths.

This workshop will define, develop through examples, and discuss the concept of technoparticipation—or the ability to combine technology with pedagogy and performance; together, we will look at how to redefine and rediscover the performative aspect of teaching to better feed teachers in hybrid and fully asynchronous classes (Campbell, 2016). While understanding how to use technology in the classroom will inevitably be considered, the focus is squarely on how to use the tools of hybrid and asynchronous classes to enhance the performative aspect of teaching. Participants, then, are encouraged to reflect on their own teaching for evidence of technoparticipation and come prepared to search for and build new knowledge and skills focused on teaching in the online classroom. In addition, participants are invited to bring phones and/or laptops to engage with the presenters by participating in, for example, online polls.

Campbell, L. (2016). TECHNOPARTICIPATION: Intermeshing performative pedagogy and interruption.          Body, Space & Technology Journal, 15. https://doi.org/10.16995/bst.16

Schiavio, A., Gesbert, V., Reybrouck, M., Hauw, D., & Parncutt, R. (2019). Optimizing Performative Skills        in Social Interaction: Insights From Embodied Cognition, Music Education, and Sport Psychology.                Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1542–1542. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01542