Lectures? We Should Talk… Or Not

What Does the Research Say about Lectures?

It is well-established in the lore of online instructors and those who support them that lecture-centered teaching is not as effective as almost any other kind. Who wants to share the road with young drivers who only ever heard about how to steer but never got to try it yet? Who wants to be the first patient of a surgeon who got a solid B on all the quizzes but has not yet seen blood? Proper learning must include lots of opportunity for students to put their hands (and minds) to work. People learn by doing not listening. Humans can only pay attention to lectures for 10 minutes before losing attention, less online. (What is the longest cat video you ever watched? And cat videos are intrinsically awesome.)

It makes intuitive sense. But this is a university; we do evidence, not intuition. (And use semi-colons is obscure but technically acceptable ways.) As I was reminded recently by a colleague during a consultation, it’s not enough to be correct in academia. One must also share one’s bibliography.

So what is the evidence for the lecture lore?

The list below is intended to begin to answer that question by listing a few of the broadest, clearest, most influential, and most evidentiary write-ups on the subject. Thus, I will also include a request: if you have a bibliography you like to use — or even just a compelling research publication or persuasive presentation not included here — please add it in the comments below.

ODEE DELTA Webinar Recording: eXperiencing Play: An Introduction to Game Design (4/24/2017)

The potential for games to engage students and deepen learning is well-established by research, as well as intuition: play is part of the way most animal species teach their young, and we can observe games and competition playing a role in most areas of human culture as we walk through the world. The challenge for educators, especially online educators, has been to tap into the power of games and play without breaking the bank.  It can seem daunting to compete with commercial video game developers.  The good news is that you don’t have to.  There are several powerful ways to build game-based learning activities for students using tools that are easy to learn and efficient to use.

In this webinar recording, Ben Scragg, Manager of Learning Technology at ODEE, introduces you to some of these design tools, as well as deeper understanding of how games can enhance learning and situations where they can do so most effectively in “eXperiencing Play: An Introduction to Game Design,” originally presented on April 24, 2017.

ODEE DELTA Webinar Recording: Copyright Considerations in Online Learning (1/24/2017)

Link: http://carmenconnect.osu.edu/p798ti0c8rv/
Date: 1/24/2017

One of the coolest things about online education is that it makes it so easy — near effortless — to incorporate multimedia. Pictures, videos, well-written chunks of text, snippets of code… you name it.  Those of us with a certain, um, longevity in our educational experience will remember how much difference such a simple thing as a photocopied course reader once made.  Instead of having to assign a whole textbook — or not assign it because it was too expensive — the teacher could just give Kinko’s the few pages you needed to read, and everybody was learning.

The challenge is that the easier it is to copy stuff, the easier it is to harm the people who had hoped to make a little money by creating the stuff in the first place, so the more important it becomes to draw lines about what people can or can’t do.  The internet creates a whole new world of complications, and for every opportunity, there is an equal and opposite risk.

What does that mean for you as an instructor?  In brief, it means you need to pay attention to whether or not you have the right to share a particular thing with your students online.

How do you know whether or not you have that right?  Well, that is where Marley Nelson and her colleagues at The Ohio State University’s Libraries’ Copyright Help Center are your friends and allies.  As described in the webinar she presented for the Office of Distance Education and eLearning’s Learning and Teaching Academy on Jan. 24, Marley describes a basic set of best practices you can use to answer the kinds of questions that are raised by copyright restrictions in an online world.

This one goes to 11: Faculty Focus

So the joke from Spinal Tap has worn a bit thin, I realize, but this is such an excellent resource that I’m not too worried about needing the perfect hook.

Namely, Faculty Focus has published an end-of-the-year Top 11 Teaching and Learning Articles, which seems like a perfect occasion to direct your attention to this high-quality resource.  I also recommend that you sign up for their free newsletter (aka, listserv), which you can do via the form on the right side of their page.

The Faculty Focus newsletter provides a judicious and manageable stream of e-mails with brief but insightful (and minimally booster-ish*) explanations of advice about teaching.  Articles usually emphasize issues specific to online but always address them with a mindset that remembers that learning and teaching retain some fundamental identities whatever the medium.  It is neither the be-all nor the end-all of teacher PD, but I find it to be a useful regular occasion to re-learn or re-think.

*While “less booster-ish,” their free newsletter does recommend paid services from time to time.

If you have similar resources you find particularly helpful, please recommend them in the comments below, along with a brief explanation of why you find them useful.




ODEE DELTA Webinar: Facilitating Engaging Discussions Online December 8, 2016 and May 23, 2017

Update: Our WAC colleagues generously delivered an encore presentation of this webinar on April 26, 2017, which featured some exciting discussions of specific examples and experiences by the team and webinar participants.  A recording can be viewed in CarmenConnect.

It was a cold and windy day outside, one of the best reasons to hold a webinar.  And our colleagues from CSTW‘s WAC program made it well worth the time, providing clear advice and specific examples of ways to improve discussions in online courses.

A recording of the session is available at http://carmenconnect.osu.edu/p5qavh2djkr/

Technology Empowered Transformative Learning

Thanksgiving turkey illustrationHappy post-Thanksgiving everyone!  If you are like me, you are still recovering from over-eating wonderful food and, of course, a an edge of your seat game on Saturday.  Whew!

Now that I’m back at work, reading through emails and checking Twitter posts, I have come across a post by the director of the Office of Education Technology at the U.S. Dept. of Education, Joseph South.  He discusses what transformative learning is and how technology can be used to empower teachers and students through transformative learning experiences.  Although there is a certain k12 slant to his perspective, much of what he discusses is easily relatable to higher education whether we are talking about face-to-face, hybrid, or online modes of course delivery.  I’d like to share South’s post with you and gather your thoughts on how you have or are thinking of using technology to engphoto of OSU students working together at computer in classage your students in transformative experiences.  Click here to read South’s article. 

Have a great week back at work!


2016 #NDLW National Distance Learning Week Recap

Whew! It’s been a busy and engaging National Distance Learning Week here at the Ohio State University!  With an event each day, we’ve had the opportunity to meet new associates and long-standing colleagues and discuss the rewards and problem-solving opportunities that the internet provides for college education.

Monday: Twitter Chat

On Monday Team DELTA and our MarComm colleague Skylar Fought hosted our first Twitter chat, with an assist from the Center for Online Ed.  With about a dozen attendees from across the country, the conversation demonstrated the power of Twitter to be more than just a mass of disconnected one-liners.

Tuesday: Webinar

On Tuesday, our colleagues in OSU’s Writing Across the Curriculum program presented a webinar on Real World Writing in Online Learning filled with practical tips and scholarly advice for crafting effective online writing assignments with an emphasis on the kinds of activities and assessments that best prepare students for the workplace.

Wednesday: Online Instructors’ Forum

On Wednesday, a small but engaged group of online instructors gathered in the Faculty Innovation Center to dine on Buckeye Donuts and converse about the joys, obstacles, solutions, and needs of those who teach online for Ohio State.  It was the first of what will be a series of DELTA-hosted events designed to build community and provide this new population of teachers with a venue to commune with their online colleagues in much the way they already do with those who teach similar subjects.

Thursday: Blog Chat

This is a short week at Ohio State, with Veterans Day (11/11) observed as a holidy.  Many people leave early.  Thus, for this culimating day of National Distance Learning Week, we are launching an asynchronous Blog Chat, a post the proposes questions for folks to reply and discuss.  We look forward to hearing from you at http://u.osu.edu/delta/2016/11/10/2016-ndlw-blog-discussion/.

2016 #NDLW Blog Discussion

computer-generated icons of a computer screen, a light bulb, and a check markGreetings and welcome to ODEE DELTA’s blog discussion in honor of National Distance Learning Week! To round out our events for the week, we are hosting a blog-based discussion about what makes distance learning effective (when it is), what online instructors need, and what we ought to expect from the future.

To engage in one (and hopefully all three) of these conversations, please post your thoughts on one or other of these topics and reply to what others have to say:


  • Topic #1: What aspect of distance learning do you think works best?  What would you say to peers to recruit them to try teaching (or learning) online?
  • Topic #2: What kinds of guidance and support have you found most useful for teaching online?  What kinds of guidance and support do you think new online instructors most need?
  • Topic #3: What does the future hold for distance learning?
    • Tools?
    • Pedagogical models?
    • Economic arrangements?
    • Institutional pressures?
    • Student demand?

Thank you for all you do, and we look forward to continuing the adventure with you all.


photo of Marcia Ham

Marcia Ham

photo of henry griffy

Henry Griffy

photograph of Skylar Fought

Skylar Fought

Real World Writing in Online Learning

Yesterday, as a part of our celebration of National Distance Learning Week (#NDLW), Chris Manion and his team from Writing Across the Curriculum presented a webinar on incorporating real world writing in online learning.  In case you were unable to attend, here is a link to the recorded session: http://carmenconnect.osu.edu/p4e3dxhvgxl/.   Please feel free to post any questions you have about the webinar discussion here.

Have an idea for a future webinar topic?  Let us know by clicking on the Webinars tab at the top of this blog site!