Micro-lectures have been a bit of a buzz word in higher ed the last year or so. It seems like something K-12 people should take a look at as a possible strategy to extend learning.

Micro-lectures are simple multimedia presentations that can be as short as 60 seconds to 5 minutes or as long as 15-20 minutes.

They should focus on a specific concept or skill. The technique works best with content that can be explained in small chunks. An advantage is that narrowly-focused micro-lectures allow students to access instruction on a specific concept or skill they need to practice. They do not have to wade through a longer presentation to review one specific topic. Students can return to a micro-lecture any number of times to get the practice they need.

Use micro-lectures to:

  • Provide an overview for a particular concept or small group of related concepts.
  • Discuss a complex cause and effect, event or relationship.
  • Provide step-by-step instructions and demonstrate completion of a task such as analyzing a primary source document or photograph.

Production tips:

  • Create the micro-lecture as a narrated power point, audio-only recording, screencast, or short video
    Most software, like MovieMaker, GarageBand, Audacity and PhotoStory 3, is available at no cost.
  • Prepare a script in advance
    Save time by writing what you plan to say and use it to time your presentation. Not only will it help you reduce the number of “takes” but it will be invaluable when preparing the captioning or text equivalent transcript to assure universal accessibility.
  • Structure the micro-lecture carefully
    Prepare a 15-30 second introduction and conclusion for each micro-lecture to create an appropriate context for the content presented or the skill or procedure demonstrated.
  • Include an activity, example problem, or written assignment as a follow-up assignment
    Require students to apply the learning from the micro-lecture. Students overestimate their understanding and need concrete feedback to determine whether they have adequately learned the material. If they need to see the demonstration again, micro-lectures are short enough to allow students to view them as often as needed.
  • Make the micro-lectures available outside of class
    Students are more likely to use micro-lectures and complete the application activity if they can access it in a variety of ways. You can embed the lecture on your web site, blog or wiki. But you can also upload to iTunes or simply make it available via a jump drive or email attachment.

Adapted from: Humbodlt State University, Center for Excellence in Learning & Teaching

Get more more information on micro-lectures with an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education. The Open Education folks also published a useful post last year. And you can get a sense of what a micro-lecture looks like by viewing an actual micro-lecture on micro-lectures!

Have fun!