Good online pedagogy is all about readability, comprehension checks – and endless clicks, says Nicholas Murgatroyd

With universities around the world moving their classes online in response to the coronavirus outbreak, many academics face a steep learning curve around effective online pedagogy.

At my university, we digitised part of our pre-sessional language courses for international master’s students a couple of years ago. These are the tips that our experience taught us.

  1. Button down expectations.A common misconception, among managers and lecturers alike, is that people in digital learning have a big button we can press to magically make things happen online.

The reality is that just as a traditional lecture may be the fruit of months of research, 30 minutes of student-facing digital content can take hours of development time. So be realistic about how much can be produced in a short time. Staff will need remission from teaching duties if you want good quality: some to write materials, others to convert them to digital content.

  1. Embrace the online difference.The default reaction of many academics is to reach for a combination of PowerPoint and screencasting software to recreate the feel of a lecture. But however lovely their voice and compelling their delivery, this is a waste of time.

PowerPoint slides don’t make great visuals, and unless the speaker is reading a script, screencasts are often full of distracting hesitations and false starts. Nor is it enough simply to transfer lecture notes to a digital platform. Be prepared to rewrite material so that it has a logical flow and is succinct enough to avoid making the screen double as an eye test.

Read more : Nicholas Murgatroyd : THE : 24 March 2020