Empowering the learner, liberating the teacher? Collaborative lectures using old and new technologies

This source preferred by Richard Berger and Dan Jackson

Authors: Berger, R. and Jackson, D.


Start date: 3 May 2012

This paper documents examples of collaborative lectures in the fields of Political Communication and English at undergraduate level. Students would be given tasks between lectures (such as taking pictures, drawing characters, finding definitions and supplying examples), and the subsequent lecture would draw upon this material, thus giving students greater ownership of the lectures as ‘co-creators’ of knowledge (Freire, 1970). While these initiatives had their successes, some failed to reach beyond the most engaged students, while others got involvement from the whole cohort. We put this down to the design of the tasks and the platform on which they were exhibited.

Similarly, encouraging collaboration through subject Facebook groups did not penetrate beyond the most engaged students. In contrast, traditional paper and pen did. We also found that students were more inclined to collaborate through creative tasks such as drawing characters from novels, rather than more functional tasks such as providing definitions.

Reflecting on these interventions, we argue that collaborative lectures offer benefits to both students and teachers, as ‘co-creators’ of learning materials. Students are encouraged to be active learners (Bonwell & Eison, 1991) even in large groups where they are often quite passive.

This has had significant benefits for their academic assertiveness (Moon, 2009) and confidence in sharing their ideas. Crucially, we found that students were learning more, and this was reflected in their assessment performance. However, for the teacher, as with much good pedagogy there is no time saving in collaborative lectures – teachers must be prepared to review student work every week.

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