In the mixed-delivery format, faculty can be tempted to use their synchronous time for lecturing. Then at the end of the class time, they feel exhausted because they've been managing the technology, the learners with them, and the learners away from them. Or faculty feel exhausted because they've put forth a tremendous amount of energy to compensate for the lack of visual cues both from learner faces behind masks and/or from learner faces on screens. Making some changes to teaching practice can enhance learning and reduce fatigue.

The key question to answer: What will my lecture accomplish? If the objective is to give information or provide essential information so that learners are prepared to engage in an activity, then lengthy lectures may not achieve the objective. Faculty may want to elect some additional teaching practices.

So how can faculty lecture for learning in this new modality?

  • Take advantage of research on attention. Studies show that even the most motivated students have 15-20 minute attention span. Then they need a break to reset.
  • If you use breaks, remind students to move around and NOT to simply shift attention to other on-screen activities. In class, have learners look away from screens and do something else.
  • Break a lecture up with a quick activity like having learners change their screen names to one word that summarizes their most important concept from the previous 15-20 minutes. Use those single-word summaries to identify points at which learners need repetition of material or to create starting-off points for a chat discussion.
  • Consider “flipping” the classroom. Record short lecturettes (15-20 minutes) for students to view during their “homework” time. Then during synchronous time have students work on solving problems or working case studies related to the material.
  • Plan face-to-face activities in pairs. Larger groups can be challenging to manage in a socially distanced environment.
  • Consider creating a pair-work contract or a Memo of Understanding (MOU). Learner pairs can work together to design these so that each partner knows what to expect and how to behave/engage.
  • Use one-best-answer questions to prompt pair discussions. Then have each pair defend their answer as “the one.” Plausible, defensible answers can be assigned to pairs as well.
  • Create an online gallery walk that moves learners through “stations” as they engage material and acquire steps leading to the class objective.
  • Consider including some microlearning activities.
  • Create a jigsaw in which learners become experts on one section of the material for class that day and “teach” it to their classmates.
  • Use a Pro/Con grid, and adapt it to your class/context.
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