How do you fill a 4 hour lecture? – or is there another way of thinking about it…

So, here’s the problem.  Next week, I have to deliver a 4 hr lecture to MA students (International and Online Journalism).  I’m used to 3hr sessions which were daunting enough at the beginning.  But 4hrs?  That’s impossible, right?

Julia will sympathise since she is teaching on the same course…

How do we fill that time?  But now I’m trying to think of it another way – from the students’ perspective.  They don’t want their time “filled.”  They want to learn something during the session.  They want to feel motivated to learn more when they finish the session.  I’ve got a few ideas I’m going to try out on them (poor guinea pigs!) but in terms of helping the time to pass less tortuously, here’s something I posted earlier on the discussion board

I too have to teach this 4 hr class for the first time on Monday 12th!  I’m thinking of picking up on a neat suggestion made by David and Chrissi after they observed me teaching.  They asked if I’d considered getting my students to use the sofa areas dotted around the MediaCity building during class rather than confining them to the classroom which is not an ideal teaching space anyway.

I had not considered that!  I’m sure they use them when I give them a break during the 3 hour session I teach but I’d not thought about using it as a teaching space.
Now I’m thinking that idea could work brilliantly for the MA class since there are only about 6 of them.  We could go anywhere!  In Biggs and Tang p165, the authors talk about group work and the need to get away from awkward lecture theatres with fixed seating.  “Outside under the trees is preferable, weather permitting.”  (Biggs and Tang 2011, p165).
Well, we haven’t got many trees at MediaCity and weather rarely permits, but the comfy sofas are a good second best, I reckon.  I’m going to get them to BYOD, although there are freely available computers dotted around anyway.  Quite a bit of my first session on the future of journalism involves them reading and analysing different forms of “citizen journalism” (Storify, Reddit) so that could easily be done curled up on a sofa rather than sitting bolt upright in a chair in front of a giant screen.  I can wander round and chat with them.  Then after a while we all get together and talk about what we’ve found.
I think a change of scene and time spent away from each other could help break up the 4 hours.
Biggs, J. & Tang, C. (2011) Teaching for Quality Learning at University.

&
So what do you think ? Will a change of scene help keep their energy levels (and mine) up? Chrissi even suggests going beyond MediaCity and using the Lowry. Hmmm, interesting suggestion. Do they have wifi? If not, it could be a problem but I like the idea of us carrying on our reflections and discussions in the fresh air as we walk between venues.  It could be seen as “wasting time” but it could also be seen as a way of preventing me trying to cram too much stuff into my sessions leaving the students with no hope of making sense of what they’ve been told and using it.
Have any of you tried this kind of thing?

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