Using Technology for Lecturing
“Intuitively, anecdotally, and scientifically, PowerPoint may be the worst business tool ever created.”
Lectures are an ancient technology. They can be done worse with technology both for the instructor (did you ever struggle with connecting cables, setting the right display to project etc.?) and learners (did you ever sit through a never ending stream of slides?). But when done right, your lectures can be improved using the right technology (and pedagogy).
This module will:
- Show you examples of how you can enhance your lectures,
- Give you some ideas how to make the teaching and learning process better,
- That is, make sure learners learn more, your job is more pleasant and your productivity is higher.
This is a controversial one. When done badly, students are fed many text-filled slides in a lecture (when they complain, they will get the slides before or after the lecture). When done well, lecture can energize audiences and motivate them to study the topic by themselves; lecture can be enhanced to allow peer-learning and improve student progress.
- You can change the class format so that the valuable class time is not used for you repeating what the textbook says. Let’s be honest, if you wrote the textbook, you might be going through the textbook so for the students it is easier to just read the textbook without the need for a lecture. In such a case, what about making videos of your lectures? These can help the sales of your textbook!
- If you did not write a textbook, are there better teachers that are giving the same content on YouTube or other video platforms? See the “Flipped Classroom” module for an example. LMS software can create permanent classroom with discussions and other work between the class sessions.
- The “flipped classroom model” suggests assigning videos to watch (and possibly other tasks) before the lecture. You can use simple LMS (Google Classroom) or even software for team collaboration (such as Microsoft Teams) to keep track of the tasks and resources. For a start, a basic class webpage could work.
- During the lecture you can use PowerPoint, Keynote and other presentation software and enhance them with quizzes and polls (such as mentimeter, Kahoot, sli.do, Polleverywhere) using student phones or tablets. Software such as Nearpod (https://nearpod.com/ ) can include collaborative activities and formative assessments.
- Instead of you presenting a lecture you can turn over the slides to students. Shared presentation slides allows students to collaborate on the task together.
- Also, you can use videoconferencing software such as Zoom (or alternatives) to deliver interactive sessions, lectures. You can use collaboration software such as Microsoft Teams to deliver online lectures. Moreover, even for classes meeting physically, such a software can support interaction between the classes (so you do not waste class time with housekeeping).
- Tools such as Loom (https://www.loom.com/) allow you to make simple videos to share with students. (Many other tools can do so as well, such as Microsoft Stream if you already have a license.)
- Look at pictures of old universities in the middle ages. They will be fairly recognizable to our students and instructors today. Instructor talking to the students who are (or not) paying attention. The reason was simple, the books were rare. That is not the case nowadays, so you do not need to copy the same instructional model.
- Break a lecture into parts. Talking for 60 or 90 minutes might be familiar format to students and instructors, but is rarely effective. Replace with students actively engaging the content, quizzes, short explanations instead of the long talk.
- Do not go for the newest tool (some of us remember the misuse of Prezi that made our heads spin).
- Do not start with the tool before you know what you want to say, why, what the learners should take away, in short, with sound instructional design.
- Note that fancy presentation does not replace a good storyline.
- Seek inspiration. What resources are available for your course? If you are teaching a “big” course (such as introductory courses for the whole study program or school), chances are, course with the same name is taught in many other schools. Can you re-use some of the existing content instead of repeating the same?
- Lecture tip: Mix it up with one of the 150 Teaching methods https://teaching.uncc.edu/sites/teaching.uncc.edu/files/media/files/file/InstructionalMethods/150TeachingMethods.pdf
- Reynolds, Garr: Presentation Zen blog, https://www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen/ Blog from the author of the book of the same name. If you are using presentation software, make your slides nicer.
- Velarder, Orana: Before PowerPoint: The Evolution of Presentations, https://visme.co/blog/evolution-of-presentations/ A good story of how presentation formats changed.
- Martinez, Krystina: The best presentation software in 2020, https://zapier.com/blog/best-powerpoint-alternatives/ Some suggested presentation applications beyond the mainstream ones.
- Teachers Helping Teachers: moving economics classes online — in a hurry, https://community.mru.org/ See the section on “Delivering Lectures Online”.
- CitiesX: The Past, Present and Future of Urban Life, https://online-learning.harvard.edu/course/citiesx-past-present-and-future-urban-life?delta=2 Fascinating online course by renowned professor Edward Glaeser of Harvard University. You can see also the videos (without the quizzes and certificate) at https://www.youtube.com/c/CitiesX/videos
- Indian & Tibetan River of Buddhism, https://www.edx.org/course/indian-tibetan-river-of-buddhism Another edX course from another university with fascinating instructor Robert A. F. Thurman; different style, cheaper production. You can see also the videos (without the quizzes and certificate) at https://www.youtube.com/c/ColumbiaCTL/playlists?view=50&sort=dd&shelf_id=25
- High School Teaching Resources, https://mru.org/high-school-teaching-resources Example of available resources for the discipline of economics from Marginal Revolution authors.
- Courses Brilliant, https://brilliant.org/courses/ Online subscription with many courses especially in STEM fields.
- Intro to Statistics, https://www.outlier.org/products/intro-to-statistics Professionally developed courses like this are coming to the market. Our courses will need to compete or complement.
- CS50, https://cs50.harvard.edu/ The famous computer science course taught in various formats to hundreds of Harvard and Yale students and thousands worldwide. The lead author, David J. Malan, has numerous resources on “behind the scenes” and course conversion in 2020.