The Lecture Will Always be Around, as it Should Be, but it Should Also Keep Evolving
From time to time I've derided the long, staid lecture here on the site. That's not to say that a lecture can't be enthralling and highly educational, but too often, they just aren't. I suffered through many of these (the long, boring ones) in the 80's and early 90's as I worked through a BS in Mathematics and then an MBA. I didn't like them then, and I really dislike them as a staple in today's classrooms and ‘lecture halls'.
Back in my undergrad years in the early 80's, teachers didn't have a lot of choice – they, and books, were the primary source of academic content. Well, it's 2014 now and there is more good information at our fingertips than ever before. Teachers don't have to be the primary source of learning content – they can transition to being guides to learning, focusing on helping students understand and apply what they are learning.
The availability of information isn't the only thing that has changed. The fact is, the expectations of learners have changed, and yes, attention spans have probably shortened. So when you do need to lecture, effort should be expended to make lectures interesting and avoid simply regurgitating information and “talking at” students.
A short list of good sources offering good insights into what it means to give a good lecture
Here's a few resources, some written, some in video format, that remind us what it means to give a good lecture. I know that those of you who have already embraced this mode of thought always welcome a chance to sharpen your skills and refresh your thinking, and those of us who are still learning to be better lecturers (myself included) welcome these for obvious reasons.
- Giving effective lectures
- Ten ways to make lectures more dynamic
- Presentation tips for teachers (Never give a boring lecture again!) TEDxOsaka – Video
- How to Give a Lecture – Video (long and old (1997), but well done and still relevant)
Common Themes for Good Lecture Practices
Here are a few of the fundamentals of good lecturing that keep coming up in the above and similar articles and videos:
- Break it up: Provide mental and/or physical ‘breaks' every 15 or 20 minutes (or sooner for younger students). There are many ways to accomplish this, but the bottom line is to be sure not to drone on without interruption.
- Visual Aids: Bring in other resources, visuals, content, etc., to give additional perspective, provide a change of pace, and keep it interesting.
- Humor: Inject humor from time to time.
- Get Animated: Be enthusiastic, passionate, share your excitement! Do not be Ben Stein's teacher from Ferris Bueller's Day Off!
- Get Interactive! One of the easiest ways to keep students involved and not lose them to day dreams and nodding heads is to require them to interact with you during the lecture. Ask questions of them, let them ask questions. Let them use those smartphones that many older students have in their hands to look things up, respond to poll questions, tweet feedback and ideas to a defined class hashtag, etc.
Leveraging Technology to Make Lectures more Interesting
Today's technology makes it easier than ever to make lectures fun and engaging. The following articles, while not all fully focused specifically on the lecture, contain plenty of tips for making lectures interesting, and involving students.
- 5 Ways NOT to Teach Like a Dinosaur
- 8 Engaging Ways to use Technology in the Classroom to Create Lessons That Aren’t Boring
- 10 of the Most Engaging Uses of Instructional Technology (with Dozens of Resources and Tools)
I hope this post inspires you to improve an existing lecture, and make a new one that you are planning even more engaging!
So, what are some of your favorite tips and tricks for lectures that keep students interested?