Multi-modal lectures – design ideation


On Thursday I’m presenting a set of scenarios on the theme of The Extended Classroom. This is for a mixed meeting of academic technologists, architects, AV, teaching development specialists, teachers and students, at the Students’ Union.

My job is to push them to consider how radical things might change, and to get them being imaginative and practical about how we can implement these ideas.

Here’s an example, exploring how lectures will become multi-modal:

The traditional lecture takes place synchronously, at the same time and in the same room, for all participants. Lectures can become multi-modal in various ways, for a range of good reasons. For example:

A quarter of the lecture’s participants are in a traditional lecture theatre, watching and listening to the lecturer in a recognisably conventional manner.

The lecturer is aware of, and occasionally shifts focus to, a feedback stream (Twitter-style messages from the students). She is able to match the portrait image next to each message with a face in the lecture theatre. At one point she breaks-off from the lecture to respond to a student directly, clarifying a point. The student had tagged their message with the “hands-up please clarify” icon. The lecturer could have waited until after the end of the lecture to respond, once she would review the messages and other data on the lecture timeline. But in this case she had pre-marked the timeline with an icon indicating that “this concept might be tricky”.

A little later, there is another message that can’t be ignored. This time, the item on the timeline is highlighted as coming from a “telepresence student”. Some of the students are participating through telepresence from other locations on campus and even in France. In this case, the message has not come from a student, but from a local facilitator in the telepresence room in France. She would like some terminology clarified, as there are translation difficulties. The local facilitator’s role is to help the students in their room to understand and make the most of the lecture. Some of the telepresence rooms are in other countries, some of them are actually in the same building as the lecture – in this case, students have opted to attend the lecture as a smaller group of students, with a facilitator, and followed-up with a seminar in which they can review the recording of the lecture and the timeline of events.

In some of the overseas telepresence rooms, the lecture is also being simultaneously translated into other languages.

Some other students are participating live but dispersed at home and in offices around the world.

As well as the feedback channel, at points in the lecture the students are asked to answer questions. All of the participants, wherever they are, respond using a simple interface on their mobile devices, laptops or desktop computers. At the end of the lecture, the recording is bundled with the event timeline, to allow students to watch again, or (if they couldn’t attend the event) to watch for the first time. This is embedded into a VLE, with access to appropriate resources, discussion forums, and further activities.

Dr Robert O'Toole NTF

Senior Teaching Fellow, Arts Faculty, University of Warwick. Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, National Teaching Fellow, Warwick Award for Teaching Excellence.

You may also like...