(Re)Designing Online Lectures

The rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the learning and teaching space is something that should be applauded and learned from. The side effects of rapidly flipping face-to-face courses to online delivery modes has meant that (understandably) - not all of the consideration, time and quality assurance we’d usually give to a learning experience has taken place. 

As we enter the next phase of this fully online journey, it's time to take stock of the work that was done to deliver content to a remote audience, and start to think about the intent of our teaching and how we can lift the quality of the student experience. 

For 2021, courses will be delivered in one of three ways: 

  • Remote (online study only)
  • Blended (a mix of face-to-face and online study), and
  • Dual (both remote and blended options available).

For all three modes, all lecture content will now be delivered remotely. This can be a daunting proposition for some, and in some cases, the first time teaching in a fully online mode. This article has been written to help staff think about their lectures, and provide some processes and tools to bring teaching to life, online. 


Before you jump feet first into producing your online material, take some time to think about your existing lectures and how your students might experience the same learning in a remote way. 

  1. Define your intent

What is the intent of your on-campus lecture? Does the intent need to be modified in a fully online mode? Go back to the intended learning outcomes and map how these might work in the fully online space - you might consider adjusting the language or making the learning outcomes more applicable to the delivery mode. 

  1. "Chunk" your content

Chunk - or segment - the teaching moments into a learning sequence. Think about the content in chunks or components - can you break down the learning into individual concepts, slides or activities? This might be as easy as ‘each slide is a moment’ - but for those who “freestyle” or adlib during lectures, this will be a little more work. 

Remember, you won't be on hand to address students' questions in person, so consider the flow of learning and try to identify those gaps ahead of time! Make a list of the frequently asked clarifying questions you hear from students face-to-face and incorporate those into your core teaching materials. 

  1. Consider the student’s experience

Start to think about how your face-to-face students experience your lecture. It's not all information dumping. Think about the teacher-to-student interactions, or even the student-to-student interactions. MyUni Discussions are a powerful tool for this purpose - check out the Quality Guide for Discussion Boards for more details.

You might even use some backwards design here. Start by defining how your existing 50-minute lecture is chunked - how many minutes of teaching, discussing, testing and activity your students are doing? Then, start to think about how you might replicate (or replace) each of those activities in the online space. 

  1. Choose your mode

Now, identify the most appropriate mode for each component in the sequence. Video can be powerful, but it's not always the most effective method for teaching. Think about all the tools at your disposal - video, podcasts, demonstrations (eg. screencasts or worked examples), narrated slides, animations, interactions, graphics or diagrams, or simply, text on a page! 

There are well documented benefits of providing students with a mix of delivery modes in your course. This approach can cater to all learners, including those who have a learning difficulty, impairment or access issues, and require a little extra support in accessing and understanding the content. 

Choosing delivery modes

When to use video

Consider these guiding principles for when to include video in your learning sequence. Your video should: 

  • Be visual - show your students something, cater to visual learners
  • Tell a story - plot out your narrative to engage with students
  • Get to the point - be concise, don't go off topic, and
  • Be personal - videos are one-to-one, not one-to-many (like a lecture). 

A good learning video should be designed to do one of the following: 

  • Orientate
  • Demonstrate
  • Explain (core learning) 
  • Connect & Contextualise
  • Link

In an orientation video, you might introduce yourself and how your course fits into a program, or even orientate the learner to a major assignment or piece of work they are about to embark on. Make sure that you define the purpose of whatever you are introducing and give the students a reason to do it, maybe even inspire them!

A demonstration video will step students through a process, how something works, what can go wrong and even a step-by-step process or solution. Note that in some instances, step-by-step guides are best suited to text as it provides students with a clear list of actions that are easy to revisit, search, print and refer back to. 

Core learning videos are the “meat” of your course videos - this is where you explain concepts and give reasons why. Core learning videos should be enriched with supporting graphics, examples and case studies to connect the concepts to the real world. 

Interviews (particularly from industry) are a fantastic way to connect the core learning to the real world and to provide context to how and why the concepts taught in your course matter to students. Keep your questions concise and on point - see the Quality Guide for Learning Videos for tips on how to prepare questions for an interview video. 

Linking or bridging videos can help to scaffold the learning journey between larger chunks of content. A linking video can be informal and conversational, even between two people - and designed to link ideas and concepts with one another, to introduce a new topic, and how prior learning is relevant. 

For more on what makes a great Learning Video, check out the Adelaide Online Quality Guide for Learning Videos

When not to use video

There are, of course, instances where video might not be the most ideal medium to deliver your learning. 

In a situation where you want to really deep dive into a topic, or where you want to discuss complicated ideas and theories with an expert in the field, try recording a podcast! Podcasts can be a lightweight way (production wise) to record your content and inject a storytelling element to your course. Make sure you plan out your discussion and keep guests (if applicable) on topic. 

When you really need to lean on moving graphical elements to convey a concept or process, a narrated animation might do the trick! If you are looking for a DIY solution, try the animation tools in Microsoft PowerPoint. Alternatively, engage with the LEI Media Production team to create something bespoke (keeping in mind this might take a little longer). 

If you are looking to provide students with a safe space to explore and practise what they’ve learned before an assessment, an interactive activity might be a great inclusion. "Interactives" can be designed to replicate a series of events or circumstances that students might be faced with, or to allow students to practise how they might handle a certain situation. To create your own interactive content try using H5P, or check out the reusable interactive library put together by the LEI Media Production team. 

Finally, when in doubt, a well designed page with supporting graphics is an excellent way to deliver content. Pages are a fantastic way to connect, scaffold and house the core learning moments in your learning sequence. They can provide learners with alternate modes of content, downloadable files, access to diagrams and infographics, and reading lists. For more on designing great pages in your course, check out the Quality Guide for Pages

Staff Support

There are a number of teams, tools and resources available to University staff who are looking to enhance their online course content. 

Just getting started

If you are new to the whole “building an online course” thing, the Intro to MyUni Online Course is the place to start! Developed by the Learning Enhancement & Innovation (LEI) team, it covers everything from creating your first page to publishing the final product.

The LEI team also compiled this resource aimed at academic staff who found themselves developing content for remote students for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Upskill & enhance

All University of Adelaide staff have access to a wide range of Linkedin Learning courses, which cover topics like video production, user experience design, graphic design, and animation. If you are looking to upskill and create your own content, start there! 

Learning Design support

The Learning Enhancement and Innovation (LEI) Learning Design team are available to all faculties and can assist in designing effective and innovative student learning experiences. 

Media Production support

The LEI Media Production team are a central team who support academic staff in the creation and development of bespoke learning resources and video content. If your learning experience requires something that's a bit out of your skillset, contact the team using the Media Production web form.

Communities of Practice

The University of Adelaide Communities of Practice for Learning and Teaching (CoP) provide an avenue for both academic and professional staff, as well as students, to come together to collectively enhance learning and teaching within the university. 

Adelaide Online Quality Framework

The Adelaide Online Quality Framework Guides have been designed for use within the Alliance Online Programs, however the guidance within them will assist anyone developing learning materials for a blended or fully online audience. 


The Adelaide Development Program for Educators and Professionals who Teach (ADEPT) team will continue to provide support for technology enhanced learning. Look out for sessions promoted via email or on the website.

Rapid Student Feedback - 10 things

This list of the Ten things you can do right now to improve your students’ experiences of Remote Learning based on student feedback is worth revisiting as you move into course design for 2021.

Tools of the trade

Self-service studio

The Barr Smith Library Recording Studio is available to all staff and is the perfect place to record and produce high quality learning video content. The studio is equipped with a high definition camera, green screen and learning glass. To book the studio or find out more, visit the Video & Self-service facilities page. 

Technology Toolbox

If you are struggling to decide on which way to go or just want to see all of the options available,  the Technology Toolbox is designed to help you select the right tool for the job! 

Do it yourself

If you can't make it onto campus or just like the idea of "getting your hands dirty" at home, here are a few tools to help make life easier.

Echo360 Capture is available to all staff to record learning videos & screen capture outside of the classroom. Videos are automatically uploaded to the cloud and appear in your course Echo library. 

Zoom can be used to record interviews with industry experts and guest speakers. 

Zencastr is a great tool for capturing longer, audio only, podcast style interviews, and it's currently FREE during the COVID-19 pandemic! 

Microsoft PowerPoint can be used to create a narrated slideshow or simple animation. Try recording your voice over directly into each slide - this helps later if you decide to make some updates. 

Document cameras are a worthy investment if you are someone who likes the good old fashioned pen and paper - use a document camera to capture worked examples or practical demonstrations. 

A USB Microphone is an affordable way to improve the quality of your audio signal when recording video content at home. 

Lighting yourself during filming will dramatically improve on the video quality captured by a webcam. Simply moving next to an open window or adding a lamp to your workstation can be the difference between a video being usable, or not. Check out this video for more tips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lfzvaBYRwg

Tagged in Learning Enhancement & Innovation, AdelaideX, Remote Learning, Media Production