Cut your teaching down into small chunks

1-hour long lectures are out, 20-minutes learning events made of learning objects are in. A learning object (LO) is a chunk of content, structured to support learning. What is in that structure? 

When designing a LO basic pedagogical principles apply. We will design with a specific learning objective in mind, to facilitate skills or knowledge gain in the learners. We will also consider how the content will be presented: problem-based approach, different scenarios, role-playing, questions…

We may not be able to transform all our existing lectures into a LO format, but we can prioritize some of the key content. Virtual lectures are harder to follow than face-to-face ones. If we split the material into self-contained mini-units we help our learners to get oriented and have a sense of achievement as they cover the content in smaller steps. Incorporating some kind of activity in each LO for the students to practice or to test themselves will contribute to engagement and motivation.


When creating learning events, frame them as an act of communication, where both sides have a chance to say or do something. Make your teaching dialogical in structure. Both sides have opportunities to hear and to be heard. You can test understanding as an instructor, and give learners opportunities to ask questions, change focus, pace and dynamics.

With all this in mind, what are the tools that could help with breaking the traditional lectures into more engaging and informative acts of communication? Tools can help indeed! In Blackboard Collaborate Ultra we can make use of the polling and the breakout groups, to support reflective practice, learner-centred teaching and checking for understanding.

Preparing your presentation with slides with questions and relevant images is one of the ways to introduce polling activity. This is a 1-minute tutorial of what it looks like when you do it. This will support further discussion and/or clarification and will flag up misunderstandings.

What are the kinds of questions that could justify the use of polling in your specific subject? It would be great to have examples across disciplines to better illustrate the point. What other tools have or would you use to facilitate communication among your group of students?


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