Lecture Courses

Lecture Courses

Why lecture?

Lecture is a common practice in face-to-face and virtual learning. On a virtual platform, options are limited for gesturing, physical space/body language, writing surfaces, and “reading the room,” and includes extra non-classroom distractions for viewers. When making the switch from face-to-face to virtual, consider the following:

  • Is it important that students hear your particular take on a common topic? Are there existing resources that cover content in a general way, so that your materials can reflect more applications, interactions, or personalization?

  • How are the lecture components integrated with other aspects of the course? 

  • Are there other ways for students to learn concepts so that they can create their own knowledge (e.g., simulations, observing data trends, etc.)?

  • How will you make up for the missing social component of the course, such as raising hands, active listening, and participation?


Lecture or guest lecture

Explain the similarities and differences between two concepts.


Describe a particular process.

Remember foundational information.

Create a Zoom meeting and lecture in real time. Use Zoom screen sharing function to display PowerPoint slides.

Record a lecture using Zoom or Panopto/Lecture capture and post to Collab/Canvas. Provide students with a copy of your existing notes. 

VoiceThread enables voice, text, and video annotation to video.

Using this practice, how do I…

create equitable and inclusive learning experiences for my students, particularly during difficult and uncertain times?
  • Wherever possible, build in multiple and flexible ways for students to engage with course material and demonstrate their learning. This helps all students, but it will be particularly important for students for whom this semester is proving especially difficult (e.g.., students who are themselves ill or are caring for ill family members, students who require accessibility accommodations that are difficult to manage in an online environment, students whose homes are unsafe or otherwise not conducive to their learning, etc.).
  • Students may have sensory limitations, such as being hard-of-hearing or experiencing migraines due to electronic device use. When lecturing, employ multiple modalities such as text, visuals, and speaking, and tend to accessibility concerns.
  • If you have students with or who need accommodations, contact SDAC to better understand how to translate students' accommodations to the new online environment.
  • Good audio and visual quality affect how students experience the content. If you are speaking, be clear and check the quality of your microphone. If writing, check that there is enough contrast in the text and background. Try connecting your phone or tablet to record like a doc cam in Zoom. Alternatively, use a makeshift stand and enter your own meeting as a guest using your cell phone camera. Focus the camera on a pad of paper and write away.
  • Protect yourself and your students from “Zoombombing.”
  • Explore more inclusive practices.
acknowledge students as whole people and design for their social, emotional, and intellectual development?
  • Lecturing in smaller chunks (4-10 minutes) allows students to remain focused and makes uploading recorded content easier. Try designing a week’s worth of content centrally located in a Collab Lesson, with built in opportunities for social interaction (Forums and Chat).
  • Seeing your face in a lecture video can help students feel connected to you as a person. You can make your face visible using Panopto or Zoom recordings.
  • Make use of student motivation. Use relevant examples and make real life connections. Avoid outdated pop culture references. Remind students of the course context and why it matters for their learning.
  • Make your lectures interactive, even if they are asynchronous, such as by asking students to pause the video and complete a very brief activity (e.g., "Write down a one-sentence description of this topics to share with someone outside of the discipline"). See suggestions for interactive lecture.
allow students to make connections and organize their knowledge in meaningful ways, recognizing their prior learning and addressing any inaccuracies?
  • Learn about students’ prior knowledge from a poll (e.g. Zoom polls) or quiz (e.g. Collab/Canvas quiz), and address the general results directly with your lecture content. 
  • Design some assignments as “peer review” in which students review each other’s work using a key or rubric that you or a TA provide.
  • Be clear about the objectives and organization of your lecture and how it fits into the course context. When building on previous concepts or ideas, explicitly mention when they were covered in a previous lecture.
  • Maintain a well-organized course website. This is the students' only interaction with your course, and it should by easy to navigate.
  • Assign tasks that help students understand their own thinking (metacognition), such as a review of their study habits.
enable students to acquire and practice skills and receive feedback?
  • Build in ways for students to practice/apply the content from the lecture and remain engaged. Try polls in Collab/Canvas or Zoom or embedded quizzes in Kaltura.
  • Work through specific examples in your lecture while directing students to think along on their own. Try instructing students to pause the video and evaluate an example problem; create a Lesson in Collab/Canvas that includes the week’s lectures and sample questions.
  • Be sure that any crucial lecture content includes opportunities for students try out new ideas on their own and receive feedback. Try asynchronous discussion boards where students can post questions to you or their classmates, synchronous chat or synchronous Zoom sessions for office hours.

Are there TAs associated with the course?

When supporting lecture components of course, TAs can support student learning by…

  • developing key questions or takeaways from the lectures. These can form the basis for a discussion forum, office hours, quiz/homework questions, or short follow-up videos.
  • holding office hours (Zoom or Chat) for students to answer questions following the lecture. 
  • being responsible for answering student questions in Collab/Canvas Discussions, Chat, Piazza, or another question forum.
  • creating short videos of worked problems with explanations for students.

See the Support for Faculty with TAs page for additional details.

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