December 2022 – John Shiga

Ametros Instructor of the Month

By giving them the opportunity to work in a realistic, immersive environment – almost like a mini internship built into the course, the simulation challenges the students in new ways.”

– John Shiga, Associate Professor, School of Professional Communication, Toronto Metropolitan University

Tell us about yourself and your background.

My name is John Shiga. I am an Associate Professor in the School of Professional Communication at Toronto Metropolitan University. I have designed and taught courses on science communication, media and urban environments, power and resistance in online media, cross-cultural communication, knowledge translation, and communication and social change.

Tell us about the course you taught and the Ametros experience you used?

One of the first courses in which I used the Ametros simulation was Science, Communication and Society. This course challenges students to theorize how science is, and should be, communicated in diverse social contexts. The majority of the students in this course are  science majors and don’t have any communication background. The Ametros simulation is  a highlight of the course for a lot of students because it gives  them the opportunity to hone their science communication skills in a hands-on way. 

My course is a blend of lectures and readings with a few different types of assessments. The entire course is structured in such a way that they learn a lot of concepts in the first half of the course and then apply what they have learned and practise it using the Ametros simulation. By giving them the opportunity to work in a realistic, immersive environment – almost like a mini internship built into the course, the simulation challenges the students in new ways.

Did you receive any feedback from your students that you are able to share with us?

The simulation is often the top pick for students in terms of course materials they found most engaging and one of the highlights of the course as it’s much more applied and experiential than  traditional assignments. The students often remark upon how quickly they transitioned into the character in the simulation. The simulation does a great job of preparing them for what it would actually be like to enter an organization and begin working as a science communicator.

What teaching tips would you share with other instructors?

Consider adding a simulation to the course because it engages students and enables  them to learn important skills in interpersonal communication and time management in addition to the core skills related to the course learning outcomes. Prepare your students for the experience. Give them a brief preview of what’s coming up in the simulation. It sets up the stage and gives them the confidence to go through the experience. Encourage the students to come forward and share things that they’re finding challenging in the simulation. This is important because if something is challenging for one student, it is likely  challenging for several others. Regular check-ins will provide them direction and clarity and it’s a great way to keep things flowing smoothly throughout the course.

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