Just a thought, a one hour lecture paused six times, isn’t this the same as six ten minute lectures?
Yesterday saw the publication of the Office for Students’ report Gravity assist: propelling higher education towards a brighter future. It is their review of the shift toward digital teaching and learning in English higher education since the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
It is a 159 page report that attempts to capture the lessons from an extraordinary phase of change.
I have been reading the document and overall yes I do welcome the report, I think it has covered the background and situation on the response to the pandemic well.
However moving forward, it misses many opportunities to fully exploit the affordances of digital.
An example on page 42
We heard that to create high-quality digital teaching and learning, it is important not simply to replicate what happens in an in-person setting or transpose materials designed for in-person delivery to a digital environment. For example, an hour-long in-person lecture should not simply be recorded; rather, it needs to be broken down into more manageable chunks. In other words, teachers need to reconsider how they approach teaching in a digital environment.
Why does it need to be broken down? Has no one heard of the pause button?
A one hour lecture paused six times, is the same as six ten minute lectures.
How is six ten minute lectures better quality than a one hour lecture paused six times?
I wrote this back in September following a conversation with a lecturer about this very issue, who like me couldn’t work out why they needed to chunk their lectures.
Doing a 60 minute (physical) face to face lecture is one thing, generally most people will pause through their lecture to ask questions, respond to questions, show a video clip, take a poll, etc…
Doing a 60 minute live online lecture, using a tool like Zoom or Teams, is another thing. Along with pauses and polls as with a physical face to face lecture you can also have live chat alongside the lecture, though it can help to have someone else to review the chat and help with responses.
Doing a 60 minute recording of a lecture is not quite the same thing as a physical face to face lecture, nor is it a live online lecture.
There is a school of thought which says that listening to a live lecture is not the same thing as watching a recording of a lecture and as a result that rather than record a 60 minute lecture, you should break it down into three 20 minute or four 15 minute recordings. This will make it better for the students.
For me this assumes that students are all similar in their attention span and motivation, and as a result would not sit through a 60 minute lecture recording. Some will relish sitting down for an hour and watching the lecture, making notes, etc… For those that don’t, well there is something called the pause button.
With a recording you don’t need to break it down into shorter recordings, as students can press the pause button.
Though I think a 60 minute monologue is actually something you can do, why do it all the time? You could, for other sessions do different things, such as a record a lecture in the style of a television broadcast or a radio programme.
If you were starting afresh, there is something about breaking an online lecture down into more sections and intersperse them with questions, chat and polls, just as you would with a 60 minute physical face to face lecture. If you have the lecture recordings already, or have the lecture materials prepared, then I would record the 60 minutes and let the students choose when to use the pause button.
The reality is that if you want to create high quality digital teaching and learning, you need to start from the beginning with what the learning outcomes will. Chunking your existing processes doesn’t result in a higher quality experience, it merely translates what you did before, but in a way which is not as good but in a digital format. It loses all the nuances of what made that physical in-person session so good and has none of the affordances that digital could bring to the student experience.
Probably the best way of thinking about this, is this is a first stage, the next stage is making it happen.