10 Tips to Get the Most from an Online Lecture
As a student in an online program, you may be asked to attend lectures – just not in person. Lectures can be delivered online synchronously (in real time) or asynchronously (pre-recorded).
Synchronous lectures through online conferencing let you interact with the instructor. An advantage to attending lectures in real time is the opportunity to ask questions, which can be posed during the presentation by typing, talking or video linking depending upon the technology that is available. These synchronous learning experiences may be recorded for playback later by those who could not attend, or others who wish to review the message. Asynchronous lectures may be delivered as pre-recorded videos or slide shows with audio.
The strategies below provide some ideas on how to gain the most from online lectures:
- Pick a time that works for you. One of the advantages of viewing pre-recorded, or asynchronous, lectures online is that you can decide when to view them. Look at the video or slides when it is convenient for you, and when you can devote your undivided attention.
- Prep your tech. If you are participating in a synchronous or real-time conference, be sure that your set up works properly ahead of time. Find out if there is a test site where you can practice testing your software. Make sure you know where to obtain technical support if something goes wrong.
- Find better Internet access if needed. Your home Internet connection may work just fine for most of your online school work, but it may not be adequate for viewing video. Seek other places to view or download lectures such as the local library, your place of work or a friend’s house.
- Download ahead of time. If your online access is slow, don’t waste time waiting for the video to begin. Instead, download lectures and watch them offline. Schedule the download for times when you aren’t using the computer, such as when you are at work or asleep.
- Minimize distractions. It is tempting to try to multi-task while attending an online lecture that is presented in real-time or is pre-recorded. When the teacher can’t see if you are paying attention, you may decide to tackle household chores such as cooking or cleaning at the same time. Avoid these activities that tug at your attention by taking notes, or by generating questions for the instructor. Stay focused and “be present” in the moment to absorb all you can.
- Smile for the camera. If you are on camera during the lecture, remember that others are able to see you although you may not be able to see them. It is easy to forget that others are watching you, and become distracted. Conduct yourself as you would in a classroom.
- Understand the big picture. First, scan pre-recorded videos or prepared slides to grasp the theme for the lecture. Next, watch it with more focus on the details. This process helps you better understand the context in which the material is presented.
- Pace yourself. You may be able to stop recorded lectures to take notes, or repeat segments that are difficult to grasp. A benefit of pre-recorded lectures is that you can watch them at your own pace.
- Speak up. Stay alert during a synchronous lecture by participating. Make comments where appropriate, keeping in mind that the quality and quantity of your contributions may influence your grade. Know the rules for interaction. For example, you may be asked to email your questions for the speaker, or click an icon to “raise your hand” and wait to be recognized before speaking.
- Follow-up. After the lecture is over, consider ways in which you can ensure that you have grasped the meaning. You may be assigned activities to complete related to the lecture. For example, you may be asked to post comments to a discussion board, or complete a worksheet. Make sure that you have finished all assignments related to the lecture. In addition, you may be asked to log your attendance after a live lecture, or watch the entire pre-recorded lecture to earn a certificate. Know the requirements for confirming that you did indeed attend.
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