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With education taking place online since March 2020, many lecturers understandably face struggles with suddenly designing and recording engaging online lectures. To support the UM teaching staff during these turbulent time, this edition of the Teach-Meet discussed common obstacles and solutions for creating engaging online lectures. For this, five experts shared their best practices:


#1: Donna Carroll (EDLAB): Capturing students’ attention online

In this opening talk of the event, Donna shared her experience with how to best capture students attention during zoom lectures. She recommended to first establish a personal connection with the student audience. Introduce yourself without perfection – be real and personal! She then discussed her practices to gain and maintain student attention right from the start by beginning lectures with sharing intended learning outcomes, interactive glossaries, or a case study that can be solved by the end of the lecture. She also recommended to break up pre-recorded lectures into shorter segments to be more easily digestible for students. Lastly, she emphasised the importance of informal evaluations by planning brief formative assessment moments such as self-quizzes on Canvas or Q&As to help lecturers know what to focus on in follow-up sessions.  


#2: Stefan Jongen (FSE) & Arie van der Lugt (FPN): Designing interactive synchronous online lectures for larger groups

In their talk, Stefan Jongen and Aerie van der Lugt presented the concept of Zoom Interactive Plenary Sessions (ZIPS) as an effective way of keeping large groups of students engaged online. Starting session with music that can be linked to the topic, ZIPS may further include appliances such as live quizzes via Wooclap, Zoom breakout rooms to thoroughly discuss questions, and the “I am confused”-button to monitor how students are keeping up with the possibility of adapting the lecture accordingly. Student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive: They enjoy the interactive set-up and feel like they were able to learn more actively throughout the lecture. If you are interested in setting up a ZIPS for your class, you may contact the Library for further technical assistance. 


#3: Nicole Kornet (LAW): Maintaining student-centered learning during online lectures

Nicole Kornet spoke about her experience of maintaining student-centered learning for larger groups of students during online education. For this, she used the idea of a flipped class room. Students would first conduct independent study and participate in a team preparation before attending their (hybrid) tutorial. For remaining questions and a deeper look at certain material, Nicole created weekly online wrap-up plenary session instead of the scheduled lecture. Students were asked to set up questions through the discussion board on Canvas. To maintain student-centered learning, these questions were answered interactively through Wooclap, Zoom breakout rooms, and the chat function which was monitored by the tutors. Material that needed more in-depth attention was discussed by first conducting an inventory of student preparation, initial responses to the material via Wooclap, a discussion of the material, and finally a quiz on Wooclap to check the gained understanding of students. 


#4: Kai Jonas (FPN): Engaging students through online platforms they know

In his presentation, Kai J. Jonas shared his guidelines for giving a successful online lecture as well as how to continue to engage students through online platforms that they are familiar with. He strongly advised to use avoid using lengthy live lectures and old lectures as the may be outdated. Instead, he proposed to pre-record lectures which are then broken up into smaller clips. He suggests using the IOS-principle (Introduce, Organize, and Summarize) and avoid tangents at all costs to simplify lectures and maintain students’ attention. During scheduled lecture slots, he suggests hosting live Q&A sessions where students may take a moderating function in the chat. Lastly, he employs a professional Instagram account where students may ask questions via the story function and he can then answer them in 30s clips. Students reported that they appreciated a professor using a platform that they are used to. Sometimes fancy online programs can be too difficult for students to access, especially if they suffer from bad internet connections. Lecturers should be mindful of that.


#5: Barend Last (UB): Principles for synchronous online active learning

In the closing talk of this event, Barend Last provided us with a short theoretical background that supports the practical ideas presented by the other speakers. He began by addressing the four theoretical principles for online active learning: retrieval practice, transactional distance, Zoom fatigue, and chunking. From these theoretical principles he derived four practical guidelines for online lectures. First, have student regularly retrieve information. Second, provide room for dialogue and flexibility. Third, shorten sessions to max. 60 minutes as afterwards Zoom fatigue will kick in. Fourth, chunk information into short, easily digestible bricks. If you would like to learn more about effective online learning, look out for Barend’s and Stefan’s book on the subject that will be published soon!


Despite the online format of this Teach-Meet, it was attended by a great number of UM teaching staff. The talks sparked engaging discussions through Zoom as well as the chat function. In fact, this edition of the Teach-Meet on “Solutions for Online Lecturing” was even reported on by the Observant in an article called “Online lecture starts with rap music by Missy Elliot”. We already look forward to our next UM Teach-Meet session and hope to see you there, either online or hopefully eventually in person. Thank you to everyone who participated.

About the author:

Rahel Koch, Student editor

I’m currently pursuing a Liberal Arts & Science degree at the University College of Maastricht with a special interest in the Medical Humanities as well as Science & Technology Studies. The position of the student assistant at EDLAB allows me to gain a more practical understanding of how digital technologies enable us to connect and share meaningful ideas. I’m here to make EDLAB’s work more visible, be it through creating digital posters for our events or publishing blog updates on our latest research findings. 

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