Online Lecture: Tips and Tricks for Interactive Lecturing

What Is It? 

By online lectures, we mean synchronous remote teaching: lecturers use certain tools and/or software, and students take the class in real time. A common term for this is ‘webinar’ (from ‘web’ and ‘seminar’).

When to Opt for an Online Lecture?

  • In context of internationalisation
  • in the context of teaching from abroad.

When not to opt for an online lecture?

Completely replacing a live lecture by an online one is not always the best option. For example:

  • If you want to explain a difficult concept, it could be more useful to use a knowledge clip (in which the information is conveyed concisely), combined with a response lecture (in which students can ask questions about the new information).
  • With a (possibly edited or enriched) lecture recording that you made earlier, students can independently review the theory at their own pace at a moment of their own choosing, so you can optimally use the synchronous moments to start an online discussion, to respond to questions students might have, to work out certain parts in more depth, etc.

So, make a well-considered choice for a combination of synchronous and asynchronous teaching methods. Preferably use synchronous teaching methods for difficult subject matters and/or subject matters on which you want to interact with the students.

Tips & Tricks for an Interactive Lecture

As with live lectures, online lectures usually involve a large student group that you want to reach at the same time. The Education Tips on live lectures will, of course, remain relevant. Yet, there are also important differences to a live lecture.

Encourage Students to Prepare for Class 

What do you expect your students to know when they arrive in your class? Help them by setting them a preparatory assignment.

For instance:

  • Should the students have mastered some theory already? Then have them read a chapter and answer some questions.
  • Do you want students to make the link between a current problem and your lesson content? Then you can give them a current example or have them look one up themselves.

Have students submit the preparation and go through it on a random basis. This way, you can respond to the difficulties they encounter during the online lecture. Ask to them report any uncertainties via a Ufora discussion forum so you can use this as input for your class.

Schedule Interactive Moments during the Online Lecture 

Use an Icebreaker

For example, start your class with a simple poll. Ask a relevant opening question to activate the prior knowledge. Think about showing a photo and ‘What do you think this is? A ... / B ... / C ...’ or ‘Do you know the phenomenon ...? Yes/No.'

Provide Opportunities for Interaction

Determine what interaction is relevant based on your learning goals and plan them accordingly. Use your PowerPoint as a framework and add extra blank slides or slides with questions at times where you want to build in a moment of interaction. This way, you will not forget about this moment, and you will also take the time for it. Some examples:

  • Are students keeping up with your reasoning? Work with statuses, or work with a 'it is going too fast' signal.
  • Did the majority of the students have understood a certain concept? Turn a certain application of the concept into a multiple-choice question and organize a voting. Use the results of the voting to estimate whether or not further explanation is needed.
  • What do students think? Provide a scale ranging from ‘completely disagree’ to ‘completely agree’ and let students mark their own position by means of an annotation tool.
  • Let a student demonstrate something. Have him or her indicate something on a figure using an annotation tool.
  • Collect the students’ input. Tools like Padlet or ideaboardz (virtual wall with post-its that students can add) provide a quick overview of answers to open questions.
  • Let students introduce new content themselves or think more deeply about certain topics. Have them come up with a polling question themselves and post it in the group chat. Then organize the polling of the question(s) that you like.
  • Let students consult with each other or work together. Use break-out rooms (available in MS Teams).
  • Let student clarify or explain something. You can ask them to explain something via the microphone. (Note: this is often a major barrier for students, so check whether the student is up for this).

Tip: moments of interaction are also particularly useful to you as a lecturer. Not only will you receive confirmation that all things technical are going well, but you will also know that students are actually following what you are saying, and that you are not speaking without an audience.   

Provide Q&A Facilities

  • Use the chat
    • It is useful if a second person (a colleague or a student who has been appointed for this) moderates and follows up on the chat. If there is an important question, the colleague or student can interrupt you immediately. Smaller questions can be bundled by the second person and be answered together at a specific moment. It is best not to wait until the last 5 minutes of the class. Take moments like this occasionally to make students feel more involved.
    • Is there no second person to count on for help? Then insert one or two Q&A moments so that you do not have to lecture and keep an eye on the chat at the same time. At the start of the lesson, indicate when the students will be able to ask their questions (for example during the break, or 15 minutes after a chapter). With certain tools (e.g. Mentimeter) your students can upvote questions. Indicate in advance that you will discuss the question with the most ‘likes’. This way you will see fewer of the same questions passing by.
  • Use the discussion forum
    • If you cannot answer all questions during class, you can post the questions and answers on the discussion forum during the week. Inform the students that you will do this. Optionally, if you wish (and can follow up yourself), the discussion forum can also be the place for students to post additional questions after class. Organize the forum so that all questions about the same theme end up in the same place. Let students update each other's questions, so you immediately know what the most pressing questions are. You can then answer them in the next class or directly in the forum itself.

Go Out With a Bang

Think about a strong ending where you once again highlight the core of your message. For example,

  • give a short summary,
  • a telling example,
  • a cliff-hanger,
  • a brain teaser, etc.

You can also set students to work themselves at the end, to avoid that the attention is completely lost during those last few minutes. The following can be done by students, for example:

  • Have them come up with the three core elements of the class. Use a word cloud creation tool (e.g. Wooclap) to help you and the students see which elements come up most often. Comment as needed.
  • Have them write a one-minute paper: have them answer and submit a short (reflection) question (e.g. via ‘Assignments’), and give them limited time for this. You can use the received input (randomly with large groups) in the next class.
  • Have them indicate the muddiest point of the lesson (e.g. in the chat): ask the students which part of the lesson is most unclear to them. This input can also be interesting for you as a lecturer to use in a subsequent webinar.

Finally, give instructions on how students can deepen their knowledge or become more proficient in the theme (e.g. extra texts, podcast, video channel, etc.). Be transparent about what is additional information and what should be mastered for the assessment. An option is to provide a processing assignment in the form of a self-test on Ufora, the discussion of a case, a discussion assignment... Go over the solution of the processing assignment, for example, at the beginning of the next class or in a knowledge clip.

Which Tools to Use? 

Last modified April 4, 2024, 11:42 a.m.