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Interactive Lectures

Lectures. While they have been the primary method of teaching for centuries, it's also no secret that they can be seen as dull, monotonous, and kill student interest in even the most curiosity-proving of topics. But lectures are still a highly-effective tool and one that teachers should be able to use in the classroom, so how can we make them more engaging and interactive? Here are some strategies that can inject life into your next direct instruction lesson;


1. Incorporate multimedia elements


Multimedia elements such as videos, images, and interactive graphics can help illustrate complex concepts and keep students engaged. Many students spend hours on social media watching short videos, so multimedia is already center of mind and reflective of the informal learning happening in their world. Incorporating multimedia elements into your lecture not only adds interest, but is a research-backed strategy for aiding recall and promoting understanding - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/349338129_Role_of_Multimedia_on_Motivation_and_Knowledge_Retention


2. Use participatory structures


One of the biggest reasons students lose focus during a lecture is because they're not actively engaging with the material. Encouraging participation can be as simple as asking questions or as complex as having students give presentations or lead group discussions. Lecture structures such as New American Lecture allow for periodic discussion and collaboration that helps students develop understanding better than simple sit and get - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMBZi90hkyA


3. Incorporate the real world


Beginning a lecture with real-life examples help students understand how the material applies to their lives, which adds to their interest in the lecture. Research shows that when these authentic examples take the form of stories, they are even more impactful https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/how-storytelling-can-enhance-any-learning-experience/#:~:text=But%20why%20exactly%20does%20storytelling,emotional%20trace%20in%20the%20brain

Also, when students realize that they’re learning relates to the real world, they search for connections that develop critical thinking and analytical skills which help them to comprehend concepts more effectively.


4. Build in “smart breaks”


Too much information can be overwhelming and lead to students losing interest or reaching “saturation” so it is essential to incorporating breaks that give students time to digest the material. While this doesn’t have to be a “walking break” you can use structures like those suggested by author Daniel Pink where he encourages breaks follow a simple four-part formula; take them, make them social, go outside, and unplug. However you structure them (and they should be structured) always encourage students to discuss the material with each other and come back with questions or new ideas.


5. Enthusiastic, expressive, theatrical


An enthusiastic and expressive presenter can make even the most boring topic interesting. Using non-verbal cues can help keep students focused and engaged throughout the lecture. This will add an element of personal touch to your student that they will be able to connect with during the lecture.


Making lectures interactive can improve students’ interest in the material, leading to better retention and learning outcomes, so consider which of these strategies might provide the most positive transformation for your classroom.


For more on this topic - check out this article which shares the research backing up much of what was written here as well as other strategies - https://www.edutopia.org/article/8-evidence-based-tips-make-your-lectures-more-engaging-and-memorable/

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