I’m finally getting round to reporting on my experiences of facilitating the delivery of an online synchronous lecture for students.

The whole concept of synchronous learning was introduced to me on the PGCAP (Post Grad Certificate of Academic Practice) which I am currently undertaking. during the first module of the course, we were introduced to this way of delivering lectures to students. I decided to utilise a contact I have at the University of Las Vegas to give students the opportunity to hear about the issue of trafficking in relation to the sex industry from an international speaker. Because the lecture was live, students were able to pose questions in real time to the lecturer.

For this to happen I had to get an idea of which technology would be needed – fortunately I was able to call upon the assistance of Leeds Beckett IT who kindly helped me to set up Adobe Connect, which was the platform used to broadcast the lecture. Adobe Connect allowed students to see lecture slides and the speaker at the same time. Even better, those students who could not attend on the day were able to watch after-facto, as I ensured the lecture was recorded and uploaded to our VLE platform.

So did it work? Well, it did – however, there was one major sticking point – the connection. Although the connection at Leeds Beckett is excellent, because of the time difference my contact delivered his lecture at home – not on campus. Because if this, his connection was not so good and the result was the occasional delay in the delivery of the content, and also when students came to the microphone to ask questions. Sadly, this disrupted the ‘flow’ of the delivery and reminded me to ensure the connection used by the lecturer was of suitable quality.

As always, I asked students for feedback afterwards. Here’s some of the comments I received;

“I really enjoyed the lecture, despite a few connection issues but that’s expected! It was something different which is always good, it was useful to get an insight into the topic from a scholar from another country and hear his views on it, especially in Vegas where the sex industry is so different to here in the UK”

“Jason was really informative and I learnt a lot from him although I think people were quite shy to ask questions what with it being on camera etc. But overall I really benefitted from it! (And the chocolates were a big hit too!)”

“Thank you for organising it :)”

Indeed, some students who were usually quite vocal seemed apprehensive about approaching the microphone to ask questions of the lecturer. This is something I will need to consider for next time, however I found it interesting how the presence of a recording device seemed to deter some students – perhaps because they felt afraid of asking a ‘silly question’ – of which there is no such thing!

Overall I’d use this method again. It’s a cost effective way of allowing students to hear from international academic and not one to be avoided. Many of the students collected the lecturer’s email address so that they could ask him questions later on if they came to mine. I plan to repeat this exercise in future, however I am more prepared for the potential mishaps which can occur during delivery.

Check out the lecture from the excellent Jason Scott of UVLV, here.