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Student use of interactive technology in large face-to-face lectures post-pandemic – issues and opportunities

Holtham, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-2497-8455, Rich, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-5782-1710 & Huang, L. ORCID: 0000-0003-3428-0162 (2022). Student use of interactive technology in large face-to-face lectures post-pandemic – issues and opportunities. Paper presented at the 17th annual International Technology, Education and Development Conference, 6-7 March 2023, Valencia, Spain. doi: 10.21125/inted.2023


The conventional lecture, based on transmissive pedagogy, in a large physical classroom has been under challenge for decades. Lockdown meant the abandonment of physicality, and established a greatly expanded level of viability for virtual and less didactic learning. But the circumstances and practicalities of emergency remote teaching were far from ideal for establishing the positive aspects of virtual learning technologies.

Top-down pressures from governments and university senior managers have actively promoted return to the physical classroom, perhaps with a hybrid component as a second-best fallback option in parallel. One possible scenario is that there will be a slow but steady return to pre-2020 pedagogic methods, and lessons from lockdown become slowly forgotten.

This paper focusses on alternative architectures for the post-pandemic physical classroom experience, specifically in relation to large lectures (50 and upwards). It does not address the hybrid classroom, only wholly physical gatherings. Its starting points are:
• pre-pandemic use of technology by students in large lectures, in particular polling (broadly defined), historically via clickers, but now via phones or other keyboard devices.
• “electronic-meeting systems” where all participants in a face-to-face business meeting are intimately connected via specialist collaborative software
• cumulative experiences from synchronous online classes, both during and before the pandemic, where a wide range of tools were deployed that could remain relevant in a physical classroom. Video-conferencing apps, universally deployed during lockdown, play much less part in a physical classroom context.

Although there are a large range of pedagogies which are applied to large lectures, we deliberately simplify this to two of the most numerically important:
a) transmissive learning, dealing with well-established bodies of knowledge
b) active learning, where there are higher levels and a variety of types of student engagement

Our conclusions are:
(1) Higher education should address the issue of in-classroom use of technology by students holistically, not as a series of discrete online applications for voting, digital sticky notes etc. Issues such as the interactions with the VLE, and in particular with generic office applications, collaboration and storage technologies need to be carefully considered
(2) Far more attention needs to be given to the ease of learning, set up and live use by faculty, both before and during the lecture. For example, technologies which are excellent for students may place excessive burdens on the “averagely” technology skilled faculty member.
(3) Generic office automation and collaboration software already have features which are scarcely used in higher education generally, let alone in classrooms. Given the continual innovation in this type of software, this may facilitate new opportunities for in-classroom use.
(4) Lecture room technology for students needs urgent research and development at national and institutional levels, not only into special needs of higher education which are unlikely to be met commercially, but also into small-scale bottom-up (and “low/no cost”) innovations, and in disseminating the work of existing innovators.

Publication Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: Paper is in press - the final publication has not been edited yet.
Publisher Keywords: Post-Pandemic, Lectures, Synchronous, High-Engagement, Classroom
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
[img] Text - Pre-print
This document is not freely accessible due to copyright restrictions.



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