Learning & Teaching Tips
Micro-lectures, by Joan Van Duzer: Just-in-time teaching for critical topics and skills
Attaining competence with some concepts and skills requires repetition and practice. Instructors can use class time more efficiently if they create short digitized learning objects that describe a particular concept or demonstrate a skill that students struggle to learn. Create an out-of-class assignment in which students view the micro-lecture and then complete an activity, small project, or written assignment that entails applying the concept or using the skill. Micro-lectures can be as short as 60 seconds to 5 minutes or as long as 15-20 minutes.
Micro-lectures should focus on a specific concept or skill. The micro-lecture technique works best with content that can be explained in small chunks. An advantage is that narrowly-focused micro-lectures allow students to access instruction on a specific concept or skill they need to practice. They do not have to wade through a longer presentation to review one specific topic. Students can return to a micro-lecture any number of times to get the practice they need.
Use micro-lectures to:
- Provide an overview for a particular concept or small group of related concepts.
- Demonstrate a single problem-solving procedure (e.g., solving a particular type of problem in physics, chemistry, statistics, algebra, etc).
- Provide step-by-step instructions and demonstrate completion of a task or laboratory procedure.
- Create the micro-lecture as a narrated power point, audio-only recording, screencast, or short video. The staff in the Center for Excellence in Learning & Teaching (Nelson Hall West 237) or Video Production (Gist Hall 205A) can provide guidance and technical support if you need help using these technologies. Most software is available at no cost.
- Prepare a script in advance. Save time by writing what you plan to say and use it to time your presentation. Not only will it help you reduce the number of “takes” but it will be invaluable when preparing the captioning or text equivalent transcript to assure universal accessibility.
- Structure the micro-lecture carefully. Prepare a 15-30 second introduction and conclusion for each micro-lecture to create an appropriate context for the content presented or the skill or procedure demonstrated.
- Include an activity, example problem, or written assignment as a follow-up assignment. Require students to apply the learning from the micro-lecture. Students overestimate their understanding and need concrete feedback to determine whether they have adequately learned the material. If they need to see the demonstration again, micro-lectures are short enough to allow students to view them as often as needed.
- Upload the micro-lectures into your course content in Moodle. Students are more likely to use micro-lectures and complete the application activity if the work is a course requirement that contributes to the final grade. You might be able to construct a quiz for content material that provides immediate feedback to students about the quality of their learning without increasing your grading burden during the term.
Adapted from: University of West Florida, Center for University Teaching, Learning & Assessment
Shieh, D. (2009). These lectures are gone in 60 seconds. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 55 (26), A13.