March 6, 2009

The 60-Second Lecture

Teaching and LearningThe idea that a 60 minute lecture can be condensed into 60 seconds may sound absurd and even impossible, but there are some instructors in higher education who seem to think otherwise. The "Microlecture" is gathering followers across different disciplines in college teaching. Supporters of the one-minute lecture think that condensing a lesson strictly to key terms and ideas with less verbiage into a 60 second to three minute lecture has been beneficial for their students.

Naturally, the "microlecture" technique has its detractors. Critics of the practice think some topics, like literature or graphic design, are impossible to reduce down to three minutes. They also believe "microlectures" can at best provide "impressionistic overview."

Although the microlecture is intended for online courses it could be applied in a traditional classroom setting. Instructions for how to make a microlecture in an online are listed below.

Here are the instructions provided for how to make a microlecture:

Professors spend a lot of time crafting hour-long lectures. The prospect of boiling them down to 60 seconds — or even five minutes — may seem daunting. David Penrose, a course designer for SunGard Higher Education who developed San Juan College's microlectures, suggests that it can be done in five steps:

1. List the key concepts you are trying to convey in the 60-minute lecture. That series of phrases will form the core of your microlecture.

2. Write a 15 to 30-second introduction and conclusion. They will provide context for your key concepts.

3. Record these three elements using a microphone and Web camera. (The college information-technology department can provide advice and facilities.) If you want to produce an audio-only lecture, no Webcam is necessary. The finished product should be 60 seconds to three minutes long.

4. Design an assignment to follow the lecture that will direct students to readings or activities that allow them to explore the key concepts. Combined with a written assignment, that should allow students to learn the material.

5. Upload the video and assignment to your course-management software.

Read "These Lectures Are Gone in 60 Seconds" from the Chronicle of Higher Education website for yourself and learn more about "microlecturing."

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