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Lecture options for online courses: narrated options

Posted at 12:13 p.m. Oct. 7, 2014, by in Creating content, Teaching Online

Narrated lecture options for online courses


Developing lectures for online courses is very different from developing lectures for face-to-face courses.There are a variety of options for different types of lectures and can take the form of video or narrative text. Overall, lectures should be split into short chunks and should be as interactive as possible to keep the learner engaged.

Video lecture

Video lecture should generally be limited to short chunks of 5-7 minutes maximum. This could be extended to 10-12 minutes if there are interactive questions embedded in the video. This article details findings of an MIT team after they researched what characterizes the most effective video for online courses. Below, three types of video lectures are demonstrated: narrated slides, narrated slides with embedded questions, and a “talking head” video.

Narrated slides

Usually, this consists of you recording audio narration over PowerPoint slides. Narration can be done within PowerPoint, but this often results in large files that students have trouble downloading. Typically, we recommend recording a screencast using a free web app such as Screencast-o-matic or a program like Camtasia, which allows you to record your screen along with your audio narration. These applications produce .mp4 files which can be embedded in Sakai or eCollege, or downloaded and watched by the student.

Example of narrated slides

Narrated slides with embedded check-for-understanding questions

This type of lecture expands on the narrated slide option shown above.  The lecture video is chunked into smaller portions. Then, using the Lessons page tool in Sakai, brief questions are inserted in between each clip to check the student’s understanding of the content. This allows the student to remain engaged in the lecture instead being limited to passively viewing content. It also provides the student immediate feedback on their understanding of the content; correctly responding to a check-for-understanding question signals the student that they can move on with the content, while if they choose an incorrect response, they may realize they need to review the video’s content again.

Example of narrated slides with check for understanding questions in Sakai Lessons page

This video shows what a Lessons page might look like with a chunks of video lecture followed by check-for-understanding questions.

“Talking head” video

“Talking head” videos are simply recordings of an instructor lecturing with no accompanying slides. Sometimes, these are recordings made in traditional face-to-face courses; other times, these recordings are created specifically for use in an online course and may feature the instructor at a desk instead of in front of a class. The article referenced above, however, found that videos developed specifically for online courses (and not simply recordings of a traditional course) worked best.

Example of a “talking head” video

Last Updated: Oct 7, 2014 @ 2:01 pm

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