Developing Online Lectures as a Supplement to Classroom Instruction

Faculty often approach me, with a technology already in hand, requesting technical assistance in producing a recorded lecture for online distribution. Before diving into the technology how-to’s, most of our time together is spent planning the project, identifying a clear and measurable objective, developing a script/outline, deciding how to engage students, and developing an appropriate assessment piece. More often than not, the technology the faculty came into the meeting with is replaced by something completely different based on identified needs.

Before you select a technology or meet with an instructional technologist, spend a few moments taking the following into consideration for a smooth, successful project.

 

Length and Segment Strategies

Consider the following

  •         Begin with an outline of your 50 minute lecture and identify clear divides between concepts.
  •         Consider each concept a segment, which could stand alone as a subtopic within your lecture collection.
  •         Try to keep each lecture segment around 6 minutes (varying ranges of 8 to 12 minutes are often provided as a maximum length per video in current literature).

Why?

  •         If a student needs to review an individual concept at a later date, they will have to guess at what point in the 50 minute lecture that concept was covered.
  •         Providing an entire 50 minute video segment often requires a student to watch the entire lecture in one setting. Even streaming media can make it difficult to find your place again.
  •         Dividing the lecture into shorter, condensed segments provides pause for students to refocus their attention. Use this opportunity for students to reflect on learning.

 

Guided Note Taking (Low-Technology Solution)

Consider the following

  •         Develop a document for your students in the spirit of a worksheet or study guide to fill in as they watch the lecture collection.
  •         Organize your document to correspond with your lecture collection, with reflective prompts listed by segment, to guide students as they take notes and reflect.
  •         Add an area to prompt students for their questions, so these are written down while still fresh in the student’s mind. Allow some time at the beginning of class to address questions.

Why?

  •         The idea of watching recorded lectures outside of class may initially confuse, frustrate, or even anger students. Providing an accompanying activity with clear direction, reflective opportunities, and objectives will demonstrate value to your students.
  •         Your students may not watch the lectures if these are the only activities assigned. Recorded content may not feel like homework to them, so include some type of activity.
  •         Students may “check out” while passively watching the lectures in the comfort of their own home. Keeping students actively engaged with prompts for reflection and checking their understanding will alert them when/if they need to watch a portion of the recording again.

 

Delivery Methods

Consider the following

  •         Take some time to watch lectures from others colleagues, then weigh the pros and cons of each delivery method based on the materials they presented as well as the materials and subject matter you plan to present. With a wide variety of available technologies, delivery options include: Voice only; Video only; Voice over a document or slide deck; Video next to a document or slide deck; Whiteboard pen annotating with voice or video.
  •         Reflect on what you do in the classroom – How often to you use a white board? How often do you use your hands or body to demonstrate or gesture when you lecture? Does this enhance your lecture or is it distracting? Do you have physical models and objects in the room with you while you lecture? Are you mostly talking or are you also demonstrating and interacting with other objects?

Why?

  •         Truth be told, there is no single delivery method that will meet every instructional need. What you’re demonstrating, your personal teaching style, and the subject matter you’re lecturing on should guide your decision making with regard to a delivery method rather than one technology product over another. Consider your needs with regard to a Delivery Method now, before exploring technologies.

 

Selecting Appropriate Technologies

Consider the following

  •         Go into this project with the expectation that you will revise approximately 1/3 of the lecture segments in your course’s collection within the first year of teaching with them. This could be anything from fixing a typo to recording an entire segment again. Keep your source files (PowerPoint, PDF, raw video or audio) well organized and in a safe place.
  •         Select a technology and delivery method, then stick with it. Students will encounter fewer technical headaches if you have no more than two types in your course (Example: Some weeks a streaming video and other weeks VoiceThread). Nothing is more frustrating for students than to resolve one technical issue only to encounter another product the following week.
  •         Ask for help! Early in your project begin networking with colleagues, an instructional technologist, instructional designer, the Teaching and Learning Center, ZSR Library, and the Service Desk. Determine who your resources are, how they can help, and who else they might introduce you to.

Why?

  •         These technology preparation tips are from years of experience providing design services and professional development to faculty, as well as end-user support to students using their materials in fully online and blended/hybrid courses. Take your students’ support needs into consideration when selecting your technology and keep it simple. Ask colleagues for assistance in reviewing your materials on multiple devices and systems.
  •         Don’t go into this alone. Learn early on who is here to help you and what services and training opportunities are available to you. Faculty will often make far more work for themselves than necessary and some abandon their projects early on.

 

Suggested Reading

Chapter 5:
Smith, R. M. (2014). Conquering the Content : A Blueprint for Online Course Design and Development (2nd Ed.) eBook available through ZSR Library

 

 

 

Comments are closed