Establishing best practice on the use of recorded lectures: a Q&A with Associate Professor Dimitra Lekkas
In 2019, Associate Professor Dimitra Lekkas was awarded a Learning Enhancement & Innovation Grant for her application: “Does attendance at live lectures and use of recordings matter to student learning?”
The goal of this grant was to explore what impact live lectures and recorded lectures had on student engagement.
As part of this project, attendance to live lectures and use of lecture recordings were evaluated through a survey and focus groups with dental students and other students from various faculties.
We chatted to Associate Professor Dimitra Lekkas about her findings from this LEI grant project and what her recommendations would be as to the best ways for lecturers to engage and stimulate learning through the use of online lectures.
What motivated you to get involved in this project?
I was motivated to get involved in this project after seeing steady decreases to dental student attendance patterns at live lectures and class meeting sessions over time in particular when recordings were made compulsory.
I found that many of my colleagues and I were perplexed as to why dental students were not attending face to face lectures given that students need to apply knowledge in the clinical setting when working on their patients. I was curious to find out if students were actually listening to recordings of lectures that they did not attend.
What was the most surprising discovery you made during the project?
The most surprising discovery I made was that good teaching isn't determined by students attending or not attending a lecture or listening or not listening to a lecture recording but more so by how one can help support students actively engage with the lecture content.
We found that students had various legitimate reasons for not attending live lectures, such as personal/family commitments, employment, timetable clashes etc, and not solely because they did not perceive the lectures to be valuable for their learning. As staff, we tend to sometimes forget about these reasons and become frustrated when only half the class has turned up to a lecture.
For those students who were unable to attend lectures on campus, having Echo recordings available assisted them in engaging in lecture content. We found that students did not perceive Echo recordings as a replacement for live lectures but more so a learning tool/method to enhance their learning experience.
Due to COVID-19, we have had to adopt a remote learning format for teaching and learning. Based on what you learned in this LEI Grant project about how students consume recorded online content, what recommendations would you give to educators in creating and recording content that is purely for online consumption?
First and foremost, good design is important for recorded online content. Our study found that students used online recordings in various ways. For example: pausing and looking up information if they did not understand, note taking and exam revision.
Students in the project mentioned that some basic elements in design can really make a difference as to whether they will listen to a recording and find the recording useful for their learning. Some of these basic elements included:
- delivery style of the lecturer (eg, good audio and clear voice)
- clear explanations from the lecturer of concepts (not just read off from the powerpoint)
- clearly stating how the lecture relates to course learning outcomes and how the lecture fits in with other topics
- And having a well-structured presentation including a good balance between text, image and diagrams.
It’s important to spend time making quality recordings especially if delivery is only online. Students made it very clear that they did not want to see old recordings.
My recommendations for creating online content include:
- Having small bite-sized recorded segments instead of a long 50 min recording can facilitate in making listening and reviewing easier for students.
- Including interactive elements such online interactive quizzes is also helpful for students to review knowledge or concepts.
- Including elements such as the lecturer’s face (not just their voice) as part of the recording
- record the lecturer scribing on a whiteboard or explaining a concept, as they would in a real live lecture to replace the human element that is part of the live lecture.
What are your top 3 takeaways from this project which will help inform how you teach in the future?
- Re-design my lectures whether for online/remote learning or face to face into smaller segments. Having smaller segments especially in online recordings also makes it easier for editing in the future too.
- Reinforcing/reminding students of the relevance of the topic to the course objectives or upcoming practical sessions.
- Embedding interactivity into teaching so students can use/check/apply their knowledge. Lectures don't have to be just 'text'/words. Make the most of interactive elements that students can engage with before, during or after the lecture such as quizzes and embedded videos that help explain concept/reinforce a concept and apply a concept in another context.
About Associate Professor Dimitra Lekkas
Associate Professor Dimitra Lekkas is the Bachelor of Dental Surgery Program Coordinator at the Adelaide Dental School, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. Her current research interests include toothwear studies, selection of dental students, supporting casual tutors, clinic communication skills and clinic assessment.
Helpful Resources from Learning Enhancement & Innovation
Remote Teaching Online Course
Remote Teaching is an online course with modules assisting teaching staff with essential resources required to prepare for modified teaching arrangements. The course provides helpful resources and recommendations to assist in transitioning tutorials and lectures from face-to-face to an online format.
Find out more about Learning Enhancement and Innovation Grants here.