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Posts Tagged ‘lectures’

Is it possible to recreate the immediacy and interaction of a small seminar group within a large lecture theatre setting?

Well there are tools that can provide a lecturer with feedback during a lecture, the student response system being one example. However, that has to be pre-planned prior to the lecture to be used effectively, so that system doesn’t necessarily give the immediacy you might be looking for and doesn’t allow for audience questions and discussions to take place like in the small seminar group.

But I think there is a phenomenon that can be used to give a lecture more interactivity and dynamism. The concept has arisen out of microblogging during conference presentations. I first saw it at Eduserv Symposium 2008 with the audience (in the lecture theatre and elsewhere online) microblogging comments and them being displayed on the big screen. I’ve subsequently participated as a microblogger from my office, whilst watching livecasts of conference presentations, or without seeing any official output from a conference. This is backchannelling; the discussions that takes place outside the organised channel, so to speak. (I suppose you could say the backchannel is anything that isn’t directed from the front.) If this backchannel is brought into the proceedings it does add an extra dynamic angle to the event. The primary medium for this is now ‘Twitter‘, though before that there were various exponents of ‘CoverItLive‘.

Now image taking that process and implementing it in a lecture theatre with full connectivity and students with laptops or smart phones. Suddenly you’ve got a means of involving your audience right there in the moment. They can be asking questions, giving immediate feedback, allowing content restructuring in realtime, highlighting areas where they don’t quite grasp the concept and need further explanation, they can be interacting, discussing and answering each other’s questions. By the end of the session you and the students can have a transcript of the process, which may be beneficial depending on your needs. Also the channel can be used outside class-time to continue discussions or for the tutor to ask questions to reinforce understanding.

So what are the services that could be used for backchannelling? Well a few suggestions of one’s that allow you to set up a private space for your purposes without having to register are Chatzy, Today’sMeet and TinyChat. Alternatively you could use Google Docs.

My Diigo links about ‘backchannel’ and ‘backchannelling’

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What if you didn’t quite understand a fundamental law concept in your last lecture? What if you wanted a different perspective on that something or other? What if you wanted something explaining in a slightly different way?

How about attending a lecture on it at a different university? Maybe Stanford, Berkeley, Princeton, Yale, Harvard or MIT. Well maybe you can’t actually attend a lecture at one of those prestigious institutions of learning, but what about viewing a series of lectures recorded there in your subject?

Well via Academic Earth you can do just that.

Their mission:

‘Academic Earth is an organization founded with the goal of giving everyone on earth access to a world class education’.

Courses and subjects covered include:

If you want to see a whole 36 part lecture on general human anatomy covering the human brain and muscular system, nervous system, muscular system, digestive system, the liver, and so on, then that’s available. What about The Nature of Persons: Dualism vs. Physicalism, Physics I: Classical Mechanics, Introduction to Solid State Chemistry, and many more.

In addition the site runs a rating system, where registered users grade the standard of the lectures.

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