eLearning, Instructional Design, Uncategorized

Don’t “Kill” the Lecture – Shorten It!

Photo by Stewart Black

photo by Stewart Black

Last week, I mentioned that the “grand lecture” should not exist in its traditional form in an online learning environment, which is true. This doesn’t mean that using video and audio to share ideas or explain difficult content should be abandoned. Using multimedia to convey information to students online is an important tool that can positively impact learning outcomes as well as student satisfaction, as being able to see the face of the professor adds a personal feel to the course.

My recommendation is to limit videos, lectures or otherwise, to 15-20 minutes max. Anything longer and you’ll lose your audience, make viewing the content a chore, and sidelined the most essential element to engaging online students – interactivity.  Designed interactivity, online or in a traditional classroom setting, makes students feel like they are a part of a community of learners and it motivates students to stay engaged. Lengthy lectures stifle interactive learning.

So, before you set out to record your “in-class” lecture and post it to your online class, think about what the lecture will accomplish. Is the content already available in the book or other required readings/resources? What will your lecture offer that is different from the course materials?

The most successful video lectures/recordings focus on:

  • content that is difficult to understand or confusing
  • introducing or explaining an assignment or activity; sets expectations for student success
  • supplemental information that further illustrates and idea or concept from course materials
  • content that is not already available to students

Introducing CuriouslyBored

CuriouslyBored presents, reviews, and shares information about online learning, with particular focus on instructional design, the learner experience, and technology and tools for online learning environments. It is a platform for “learning about learning” and an opportunity to showcase innovative ways of engaging students online.

This is an exciting time for the online learning industry. We are in the midst of online learning’s “heyday.” With more than 6.7 million students taking at least one course online during the 2011 fall term, online learning represents the largest growth opportunity in the learning industry.

What was once a novelty is now a utility for educational institutions and corporate training programs alike. Even the most traditional educational institutions recognize that online learning cannot be ignored. Weather a massive open online course (MOOC), credit bearing online course or online training, the design and functionality of these courses significantly impact their success and the willingness of learners to return to the environment and the educational institution.

As an online learner, and a practitioner of instructional design, it is surprising how many instructors are unaware of the importance and pedagogical impacts of course design, particularly in the online environment. Successfully “taking a course online” does not mean recording an in-classroom lecture and posting it online. It is not simply course building. The way students interact with the instructor and each other is different online. The way students receive and interact with the material/curriculum is different online. The content is the same, but the presentation, activities and manner in which learners learn is dramatically different. Acknowledging the differences in these learning environments and intentionally designing for them is the difference between a successful online course and a flop.

Although the make up of online learners varies dramatically – higher education, home school students, corporate or institutional training, etc. – the central cornerstones of success, a side from curriculum, are functionality, user-interface, and course design. Generating equal interest in these matters among industry practitioners will help to attract more and more learners and secure online learning’s place within the industry.