Does the lecture have a future?
About a year ago a research group involving four Australian universities published a report entitled The Impact of Web-Based Lecture Technologies on Current and Future Practices in Learning and Teaching. One of the key findings of this report was that students on the whole were enthusiastic about web-based lectures – i.e. lectures delivered in the traditional way but recorded for transmission on the internet – while faculty were on the whole more cautious, and a sizeable minority actually hostile. This raises the question of whether traditional teaching methods – the lecturer standing in front of a class wielding chalk and delivering talk – are still sustainable.
There is a debate to be had in this about the value and appropriate use of elearning, but that is maybe for another post. My purpose here is to ask whether we need to re-consider the usefulness of the lecture in particular as a teaching tool. When I was a student a good few of my lectures were entirely expository – essentially they were the source for a ‘good set of notes’ which, if properly remembered, were the passport for a good examination result. While some were given by gifted communicators, a good few were a perfect cure for insomnia; very few were interactive in the way that we would understand that concept today.
Nowadays there is very little need (if ever there was any) for expository lecturing. There are good materials everywhere, on paper and online, that can provide the basic information, whatever that may be. So one conclusion would be to say that the lecture as a teaching tool is redundant, except perhaps when contained in an online resource on the web, to be consulted or used by students as they see fit.
On the other hand, I tend to think that a carefully constructed lecture that is interactively delivered and challenges the students is still valuable. But to allow students to experience that consistently requires us to provide better training for lecturers, and also to maintain an ongoing dialogue with students to ensure that their needs and expectations are being met. But the idea of the lecture as a formal device for distributing basic information is probably no longer of any real use.Explore posts in the same categories: higher education, university comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.