Posted tagged ‘microlectures’

Hang on a minute!

March 23, 2009

Concerned that traditional teaching methods may be outdated? Wondering how we can keep students interested in our programmes? And are you reaching for the TV remote control right now as you start to lose interest in this post? Hang on a minute. Literally. We have the answer: the ‘microlecture’. This is a ‘tiny burst of education’, 60 seconds of exposition or explanation (I absolutely refuse to believe it could include analysis), available online – or at any rate, available online with San Juan College in New Mexico. So we read in this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

If you are studying in San Juan, you can access microlectures for degree programmes in health and safety, tribal government, and veterinary studies. Indeed as I understand it, microlectures are the only teaching tool used for the health and safety course. The view of the College is that these ‘bursts’ can be as useful as traditional lectures.

I am bound to wonder, why stop there? Why not Beethoven’s 9th Microsymphony (the full essence in 60 seconds), Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake at last understandable as condensed into one paragraph, Einstein’s theory of relativity made even more relative by putting it on a car bumper sticker – and equally good intellectually, if not better.

Seriously, we must be open to new methods and pedagogical insights. But as we enjoy an ever-decreasing attention span we must not bring ourselves to believe that bite-sized knowledge should validly replace analysis. I am not saying that reduced coverage or mini-methods cannot work in some contexts, but not as a basis for degree programmes. At least I think not. Heavens, maybe I just need to get with it. Briefly.