A no-lecture format is an approach to learning via online degree programs. It takes the focus off lecturing as the centerpiece of a course and instead puts the emphasis on course materials, assignments, and students learning at their own pace.

That’s a step in the right direction, according to studies. For example, the BBC reports that a Harvard study found average attendance at lectures typically falls from 79% at the start of class to 43% by the end.

Also, students only retain about 10% of what they hear in lectures even just a few days afterward.

The RN to BSN program at Houston Christian University takes a no-lecture format approach to the degree program, which is 100% online and allows RNs to earn their bachelor degree through eight self-paced courses.

Components of Online Learning

There are four main components of online courses, as explained by U.S. News and World Report. They are as follows.

The Learning Management System (LMS). This is the most important aspect of online learning. The LMS is where students sign in to see all the course materials – text, videos, audio files, links to other resources, etc. This is also the system through which students interact with  other students, including topic discussions and projects.

Course materials. Much of this is reading material assigned by professors including text files online or books that you must order. Materials can also include PowerPoint presentations, podcasts, webcasts, and instructional videos.

Assignments and group projects. All assignments and due dates are in the LMS. In addition to papers, students are often asked to participate in discussions on message boards (they may also be asked to moderate these discussions). While the rules vary, students may be required to make substantive posts to the message board to further the conversation. Many classes require group projects with other students and completion of written assignments that can be submitted through the LMS.

Grading. Tests and assignments make up the grade, as usual. Many tests are proctored to prevent students from cheating.

Who Benefits from Online No-Lecture Formats?

The flexibility of online learning is often touted as a major benefit, allowing students to sign in to the LMS and do their coursework at the time and place of their choosing each day. But there are also educational advantages of using a no-lecture, online format.

According to the Open Education Database, students report that they are better able to concentrate on learning through online classes because there are no classroom distractions. They can also repeatedly review important information in video or audio files.

The self-paced nature of online learning is also a benefit. Everyone learns at their own pace. Online learning allows each student to approach their education in a way that is best for their learning style.

Online classes help students who otherwise might not participate in classroom discussions to enter into the conversation. Typing and posting on a message board is easier for many people than speaking up in a crowded classroom.

While online education offers a different approach that may be unfamiliar, many students find that the advantages of a no-lecture format course are in some ways creating a learning environment that is superior to traditional on-campus learning.