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A starter for ten…

You have probably all experienced a lecture by now and if you haven’t then you soon will do! Lectures are mainly there to provide the same input/message to everyone at the same time in order to ensure that consistency is achieved. These lectures are often followed up with smaller seminars or workshops where you can use the information you have been given within the lecture to inform your discussion and application. However, lectures can be difficult to learn from, concentrate in and even, in some cases, daunting. So, after reading some advice from Hull University, I thought I would provide some of my own.

not in the mood puppy

I’m in the mood!

As a tutor, I view any lecture as an event. I would never claim to be a stand-up comedian, but I view a lecture as a performance. Its as if I have been challenged to communicate often a large amount of information, in a set period of time but to keep the concentration of over 100 learners. I put a lot of time and effort into my lectures in order to make the information relevant but also how I am delivering it, interesting. But a lecture is a two way event. When you arrive, you need to be in the mood for the lecture and learning. Yes, its 9am on a Monday morning, but its still learning. Having a positive mindset to start of with is key – if you arrive thinking it is going to be dull and pointless then it will be. Try to stay positive and engaged.


It is a good idea to look at the content or theme of the lecture before you attend. I suggest that you make a list of any questions you need to know about the theme/topic before you attend. This way, you can tick these off if or when they are answered. If they are not answered, then you have your questions ready for the follow up session. Also, consider how you are going to record your notes throughout the lecture and come prepared. Make sure you have pens and paper or your electronic device is charged and ready to go. Bring some water – keeping hydrated always helps learning! – and make sure you have suitable clothing for the lecture theatre. I know it sounds silly, but believe me if you are too hot or too cold then you will not concentrate as well. Choose your seat carefully – I always need to be able to see both the presentation and the tutor so I favour the seats at the front – keenie or what! And make sure the people you sit with share your desire to learn – there is nothing worse than trying to concentrate when someone is constantly chatting to you.

And so it begins

So, the lights dim and the lecture starts. Lectures tend to be approximately 1 hour long so you need to try and keep concentrating for that amount of time. I’ll be talking about mobile devices in another post, but for now, make sure they are on silent. I always try to do the following in lectures and/or key notes. ‘Look, listen, write, check’. I first look at that presentation slide and listen to the tutor, then write a summary of what the tutor has said or is saying. One of the first pieces of advice I give to all the learners within my sessions is write down what I say rather than the content of the slide. Interact with the slide by highlighting or annotating it, but don’t write down the content. You will be able to get this either before or after the lecture but the words of the tutor will be gone forever – unless you are lucky enough to have lecture capture at your institution. To return to my process of look, listen, write, check – I then check that I understand what I have written and move on. If I don’t understand it, I highlight it or question mark it for future reference/work. And talking about highlighting, I find it really useful to use a range of colours and formatting techniques when taking my lecture notes. This helps me maintain my concentration as well as making my notes more – well appealing!

The Aftermath

As the lecture comes to an end, make notes about the further reading etc before you go off and have a rest. After some time has passed go back to your notes. Don’t read them all again, focus on those areas which you didn’t understand and decide how you can increase your understanding of these. This might be from doing extra reading, asking questions or seeking ideas and clarification from the tutor. Make sure you have an effective filing/storing system so that you can readily retrieve the notes at a later date. For me this is all in my cloud storage and USB drive, but like I mentioned in the learning post – create your own which works for you.

In summary

Hopefully this has provided you with some information and support about ensuring that you get the most out of those lectures. If you have any practical tips of your own then please share them in the comments below – collaboration and sharing is always good! I’ll be writing about my advice about taking notes and mobile devices in future posts, so don’t forget to subscribe to the blog or come back regularly. Off to a lecture now so I’ll catch you all later!


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