Traditionally, educators lecture. That’s what we do, or at least, that’s a part of it. Leadership, in any profession, calls for moments in time where a leader must stand in front of the group to speak and either rally everyone to action, challenge their thinking, or to simply deliver information that is for the functional and productive benefit of the whole.
That said, in college, I frequently joked with my peers as we would enter class, I wonder if today’s lecture will be on the ineffectiveness of lecturing. But despite those comments, when I had my own classroom, I still spent time each day at the front.
With personalized learning, I often hear educators talk about getting away from direct instruction entirely, which to be candid was once a goal of mine as well. At the time I thought, With the right resources, I can probably eliminate lectures altogether. So I created video, audio, and written options to facilitate instruction in place of a lecture – and I told students I was available for questions and dialogue about the instructional content if necessary.
I thought I had it all covered until…
Wait, you’re telling me you prefer to be lectured to?!?!
Student voice matters, and Hailey wasn’t the only one expressing an interest in bringing lectures back. And so it was at that time that I revisited this idea from Jim Collins.
That’s when and how I realized I was going to need to leverage what I’ve come to call Live Events AND the set of additional instructional supports (audio, video, and written resources) to meet learners through the medium that they learn best.
Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, That sounds great, but it also sounds like a lot of work. Who’s got that kind of time? Well, it’s not quite as time-consuming as you might think. Here are a few steps to follow in order to efficiently create variety in instructional mediums.
Step #1: Write a Script – To begin with, type out word-for-word the entirety of the information you would like to convey in the lesson. Note: This is the longest step. Typically, if you type a page and a half to two pages, single-spaced, and break it into paragraphs, that equates to approximately five minutes of media content. You do not want to create media that is longer than five minutes, so if you need more time, chunk the information into several smaller pieces of media of five minutes or less. Suggestion: Try to keep your tone and word choice fairly informal, but certainly still academic.
Step#2: Make a Video – Whether your preference is to screen-record your progression through a slide deck, to use Explain Everything, or to stand in front of a camera, it’s advisable to read from the script as you create your video instruction. This will accomplish two things: 1. It builds fidelity across the variety of mediums being offered. 2. It will help you to be brief and efficient with the duration of the video pieces you produce. So, film using the script, make whatever edits are necessary, and you’re done with step 2.
Step#3: Create the Audio File – As you edit the video, consider what visual aspects are lost if the audio for that video were to be the only option. If you need to add additional audio to account for information lost in the video to audio translation, do so. However, in most instances, simply ripping the audio out of the video will be enough to make the file for this piece (change the Save As option to mp3 is sometimes another way to accomplish this).
Step #4: Turn the Script into a Reading – If your scripts look anything like mine, they are a jumbled, unformatted mess that only I can navigate as I record the instructional video. So for this step, format the script by giving it a title, a few relevant images, and by breaking it down into short paragraphs focused on one idea per paragraph.
Wow, that was easy. Video, audio, written content — complete.
Final Step: Live Event Delivery – Now it’s time to do what you’ve likely always done, deliver a lecture in class. That said, here are a few things that will be different as you teach with these other instructional pieces as alternative modes and/or supplemental supports.
- Having developed the aforementioned pieces prior to your lecture, you will feel confident and thoroughly prepared as you present given the depths of your prep experience. Writing out the content and process to support student understanding of it – along with reading it aloud – leads to sound instructional practices in this moment.
- Call the lecture a “Live Event” to change the negative stigma typically associated with lectures.
- If the Live Events are voluntary and optional by learning preference only, you will not believe the dynamic culture shift that occurs when learners choose to stand up and walk to you to listen to you speak. The focus and energy of the Live Event groups are powerful.
- Consider taking time to teach this group a variety of ways to take notes during a lecture. From digital to handwritten, from traditional bulleted notes to sketchnoting, there are a myriad of choice options available in this facet of the learning process. Seize this opportunity to equip learners with methods to successfully maximize learning in this format.
There’s enough to get you started. Good luck with differentiating your instruction to tailor your instructional content delivery to the individual’s learning preference.
-Andrew Easton, Westside Personalized Collaborator
firstname.lastname@example.org – @EastonA1