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Digital Learning Champions: How online lectures can be made more engaging.

Kanika Kalra

What did I do

Having completed my undergraduate education pre-pandemic, my MA at LCC is the first time I experienced online lectures. I had attended endless work meetings online during the pandemic, but this was the first time I experienced a virtual lecture environment and noticed that almost none of my peers participated. I found myself losing attention quickly and felt demotivated to attend further online lectures.

When I took up this role as a Digital Learning champion, discussions with the team made me think about challenges I had faced in my own learning experience. Something that specifically concerned me was low student engagement during online lectures. Discussions with the team also made me realize that an online learning experience offers various advantages that can be leveraged to improve overall learning outcomes. For example, online lectures are easy to record, which makes them accessible to those who might not be able to learn at the same pace as the rest of the class. They also allow course leaders to provide students invaluable exposure to speakers from different parts of the world.

This project aims at improving the online learning experience for students, to ensure they can get the most value out of lectures and talks that are conducted online. It attempts to achieve this by helping teaching staff at LCC understand what students feel they need from the online learning environment.

As part of the research for this project, I interviewed LCC teaching staff and external digital learning experts and conducted a focus group with LCC students.  

Speaking to teaching staff made it clear that they plan lessons in a very limited time. And staff who have experience of coordinating with external instructors and speakers said they don’t feel comfortable sending them lengthy guidelines which they may not have time to read, or which might discourage them from delivering a lecture at all.

Since there is an abundance of expert opinions, tips and tricks, and industry best practices available online, this project’s primary output is a short video that focuses on just LCC students’ opinions on what can make online lectures more engaging and valuable for them. These student opinions are based entirely on findings from the student focus group.

The idea is that this video can become a resource that may be circulated with tutors and speakers to give them a quick insight into the student mindset and help them make more informed decisions while planning online lessons. I hope this helps to improve students’ overall online learning experience.

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