The lecture still has a place in the University, and there are strategies you can utilise that will help to engage students around the lecture content. One of these is to incorporate interactivity into the lecture. Interactivity goes beyond the traditional lecture format of one-to-many transmission and opens it up as an opportunity for staff and students to interact around the ideas in a shared, real-time social setting.
Recently, lecturers in the College of Business, Government and Law demonstrated to peers their practical approaches for incorporating technology-based strategies in their lectures. Dr Vipul Pare shared his interactive teaching approach using visual cues embedded in PowerPoint; Dr Amy McCormack demonstrated her use of Active quiz in FLO; and Dr R.V. Gundur showed how he uses the social platform Slido in his lectures.
Simple interaction strategies that require no technology at all include stopping for a show of hands or building in time to turn to your neighbour and discuss. These sorts of strategies help to balance out a lecture listening activity with a judiciously placed lecture responding activity. Strategies can also prompt for inputting, for instance by providing a ‘choice point’ in the lecture related to previous or upcoming content. Appropriate technologies can enhance the efficiency or enjoyment of these kinds of interactivity – and it can also make new ways of interacting possible.
Vipul’s, Amy’s and R.V.’s strategies exemplify ways of valuing and pedagogically engaging the social dynamics of learning, practicing of higher order thinking skills in real-time, and paying attention to students’ emotions, all of which are critical to higher education learning (Nugent et al., 2018): rich interactions provide opportunities for expanding one’s existing mental models, deeper thinking, and co-constructing knowledge (p. 23); attention to the learning process itself helps shift students into an active mode of engagement (p. 30); and engaging the affective aspects of learning through such techniques as provoking curiosity, debate, and the use of humour in the classroom (p. 21).
Vipul Pare’s lectures are a friendly, interactive classroom environment for 300+ first-year marketing students, supporting curiosity, questioning and inclusiveness with a ‘relatable’ teaching style. His techniques, embedded into PowerPoint, have been enthusiastically received by students, and Vipul reports that they have resulted in an increase in pass rates and a reduced attrition rate.
Vipul’s techniques make use of colour and character to support attention and retention and engage the affective domain in learning:
- Get-it-Got-it cards | Red and green cards are handed out (and collected back) in each lecture. Raising a red card means ‘please repeat or clarify’ and green cards confirm everything is clear. This strategy provides students with a measure of control in the classroom.
- Revise. Survive | Every 20 minutes there is a series of questions relating the content just covered, cued by a slide. At this point, students pair up to check their understanding, using the green cards to confirm.
- Ms Hit and Ms Miss | Slips of paper can be anonymously put into ‘hit’ or ‘miss’ collection boxes at the end of each lecture. The information is used to start the next lecture.
- Miss Curious | A picture of a cat in a slide is used to signal something worthy of questioning and triggers a small group discussion with reporting back. This strategy encourages thinking beyond the given facts.
- Think, Pair and Share | This strategy is used near the end of the lecture. Students are asked to choose a concept they have grasped and explain it to their neighbour.
Student familiarity with the strategies is key to their success. Similarly, Dr Amy McCormack incorporates the Active quiz FLO tool in every lecture to provide a break in the flow and to check in with her first-year accounting class’s grasp of the lecture content. Amy notes that active quiz is useful as a form of attendance-taking, as each student registers into the quiz.
The active quiz process: Amy pre-loads her questions. During the lecture, students are prompted to connect to the quiz through FLO (it is always very visible in the top of the FLO topic site) and Amy starts the quiz, controlling it in real time (ending, re-polling, moving on). Student responses are anonymised and can be displayed on the lecture screen for instant summative feedback. There are three questions for every 10 slides.
Amy also uses active quiz to ask the question: What do you want to practice most? At this point, she can rearrange the slides and concentrate on this content. This information is also used to focus content revision in class.
Dr R.V. Gundur demonstrated how he uses the social platform Slido. R.V. is an advanced technology user and is comfortable managing the software in his lecture of 600+ students. R.V. uses Slido in conjunction with live streaming his lectures so that students can interact in real time, whether they are in the main lecture theatre, in the overflow theatre, or joining in remotely. Slido is interactive software that allows you to ask and receive questions from big groups without disruption – a teaching assistant moderates the questions.
Please note that Slido is a ‘self-supported’ tool, as it sits outside of the suite of (institutional) core FLO tools, and there are things to consider when using these tools in class activities.
R.V. observes that the use of Slido ‘shrinks the space’ for the students and creates an atmosphere of intimacy and personal involvement. From the student side, there is no log-in or installation required. All participation is anonymous, and results can be displayed on the lecture screen. Students can ask questions ‘safely’ without fear of embarrassment and without interrupting the flow of the lecture. In the process, students learn to ask concise, well-formed questions, and be involved in the answer too.
Whether embedding prompts into PowerPoint slides like Vipul, utilising existing FLO tools like Amy, or adding extra functionality with non-FLO tools like R.V., the bottom line is to choose carefully and strategically, according to your available capacity and capabilities. If you are keen to explore further, or have example of your own to share, please contact your local eLearning support team.
Thank you to Vipul, Amy and R.V. for generously sharing your strategies!
Nugent, A., Lodge, J. M., Carroll, A., Bagraith, R., MacMahon, S., Matthews, K. E., & Sah, P. (2019). Higher Education Learning Framework: An evidence informed model for university learning. Brisbane: The University of Queensland.
Written by Nicola Parkin
Learning Designer – CILT