In Brookfield’s text, The Skillful Teacher, he looks at how lecturing is perceived against the reality of the experience, and breaks down some best practices for lecturing in the classroom.
In reading this chapter, I tried to look at these best practices from the perspective of online lecturing, as the programs I’m involved in are online. The programs I work within have recorded lectures, as well as a live “webinar” type of session where live conversations occur, and I found that for some of his points, it didn’t really make much difference as to the delivery method – Brookfield’s characteristics of helpful lectures were applicable to all methods.
Using a variety of teaching and communication methods: This point seems somewhat self-evident, but for online lectures, there is a much larger amount of resources required to put this into practice. You need a camera to record a talking head, you need interactive software, you need graphics and animations to keep things interesting. Too often recorded lectures are someone reading bullets off a PowerPoint slide – which usually makes people want to die of boredom. This can happen in a live classroom as well. This principle applies to both methods of delivery.
He talks about introducing periods of silence in the lectures; while you wouldn’t need to do this on a recorded lecture, you could actually integrate that practice into the script by prompting the student to pause and do an activity, or to process the information. The amount of information can also be more easily “chunked” into digestible bites in recorded lectures, allowing students to choose when and how much information they take in. This is also applicable in live sessions delivered online.
Additionally, he suggests using a prompt to punctuate the conclusion of a chunk of information, by having students respond to a question on a presentation slide to create discussion and dialogue around the information. This offers a window into the level of understanding the students have about the topic – something that is difficult to get in online learning environments.
There are many more extremely helpful tips in this chapter that can be applied to online learning.
Brookfield, S. (2015). The skillful teacher, 3rd ed. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass.