It’s Monday morning, your students have had a heavy weekend and you’re surprised when a few nod off in the back of the lecture theatre?
Students need to be engaged, if you ask them to sit through a lecture in a warm lecture theatre in comfy seats there’s a good chance the students on the back row who poured themselves into bed around dawn are going to take this opportunity to catch up on a bit of much needed sleep, not that I’m stereotyping students. But I certainly remember the lectures that were a little more interactive more than the ones that involved the lecturer reading the same lecture he’d given to the previous year, the year before and probably every year since he started teaching the course.
University technology is an accepted part of lecturing these days, most university lecturers will even post their lecture notes online on the schools intranet, but if anything, this can just give a few of the more laid back students another reason to skip the lecture entirely. The trick is to use technology to encourage all the students to come to the lectures rather than it being used as an excuse to skip it entirely, they need an incentive other than the vague threat of being kicked off the course if they don’t keep their attendance up.
With the technology available these days, lecturing from a text book isn’t going to be productive enough, the students in your class have grown up in a technological age, they’re used to the internet and being able to access any information they need or being able to talk to people all over the world with a click of a button, by bringing technology into the classroom you are bringing the lecture into their world which in turn means they are not only more likely to absorb what you’ve got to say, but they’re more likely to come up with constructive arguments and place what you’re saying in a context that’s relevant to them.
Many subjects have been bringing university technology into their class rooms for years, it’s very hard to conduct a lecture on film studies from a text book alone, but the use of technology can be used in any subject, not just as a teaching aid but to bring the lesson to life. The NASA website has a dedicated section for education, a lecture on languages can be more productive with the technology to translate anything instantly, or even to talk to other students around the world, a live web chat could be arranged with an leading figure head in your field, a debate with a local politician would be much easier to arrange if the Politian doesn’t have to leave their office and it delivers the lecture in a format the students are unlikely to forget. As cliched as it sounds, the possibilities really are endless.
So what university technology would you realistically need? A good internet connection and a projector is really all you need. With your lap top hooked up to a lectern and a LCD projector you can bring the entire internet into your lecture and display the website URL to any site you visit for the reference of your students. Interactive whiteboards make this process much more streamlined, by combining the power of a lap top and a projector, they allow you lecture to become truly interactive.