Microlecture Equal Big Learning Opportunities

Microlecture Equal Big Learning Opportunities

Microlecture is a buzzword in instructional media as of late, but a justifiable buzz for many reasons. Microlectures fit with new classroom strategies such as “flipping”, and blended learning, while from a technical stance allow you to create videos that can be used modularly as you build course content.

The Flip

Taking the repeating face-to-face / homework sequence and inverting it is becoming quite prevalent. John Overmeyer at the University of Northern Colorado provides a great summary of what flipping is:

It is called the flipped class because the whole classroom/homework paradigm is “flipped”. What used to be classwork (the “lecture”) is done at home via teacher-created videos and what used to be homework (assigned problems) is now done in class.

(via John Overmeyer, Educational Vodcasting – Flipping the Classroom)

Further, more detailed information is found in The Flipped Class Manifest.

It’s difficult for many educators to imagine stepping out of the center of the classroom activity and giving things over to the students. I would contend that there still is some information that is best, or least efficiently, delivered with a lecture, a story, or a demonstration. Overmeyer explains in his blog that the lecture portion of a class can be delivered in a video or “vodcast” rather standing in front of the class to get through important, though one way, content. The face-to-face time is then recovered for more engaged, student centered activity that can be guided by the instructor.

There are some benefits for both the students and instructor:

  • Lectures can be viewed at any time and multiple times as needed.
  • Recording the lecture allows the instructor to incorporate content that may be difficult to use in the classroom such as videos shot on locations that you would be able to take the students to.
  • For the instructor lectures can be reused from semester to semester. If a lecture can be reused more than one time more time and effort can be spent on prepping each lecture.

Why Are Microlectures Unique in Flipping?

Many instructors lecture for fifty minutes because the schedule in the timetable says fifty minutes. Is the decision on duration based on good pedagogy or on the logistics of moving students through our buildings in an efficient manner? What is thought of as a “lesson” may only require five minutes of explanation or demonstration. What often happens is that the instructor will throw multiple five to ten minute lessons into a fifty minute class.

Learning Nuggets

Microlectures, when viewed on demand as online video from either your learning management system or on YouTube, can capture these five to ten minute teaching nuggets. These nuggets allow quick and direct access to a particular topic without having to review full length class recordings.

The microlecture offers flexibility in the mixing and matching of flipped lecture content. This way the instructor can repackage and organize the brief videos by stringing the microlecture nuggets with descriptive text or quick webcam “connecting” content.

Before, During and After

By utilizing webcam based recording tools the creation of these short videos can be quick task and often done on a moments notice. With a brief one-time setup of a workflow the instructor can create and distribute as quickly as sending an email.

The quick recording may be distributed by before a face-to-face to prepare the students for what to expect, what to have ready, augment existing online microlectures, or any changes in the syllabus. Video for use after face-to-face meetings can be used to answer hanging questions, clarify a fuzzy topics or provide feedback on the work in the previous class meeting.

Think Small and Create Big Opportunity

Creating microlectures should be thought of as an additive process. Once a learning nugget is created it’s there for repeated use that only requires the instructor to point the students to the content in an appropriate way whether via email, twitter, LMS, class web page, etc. Certainly some content will need to be replaced over time, but many topics will have a very long shelf life. By not recreating microlectures every time they are used ongoing efforts can be spent on new content. This allows for the growth of a large resource pool that can benefit your flipped or traditional classroon.