The latest of practice/technology deaths has been identified as the traditional academic lecture.  I just finished watching the ALT-C Keynote “Don’t lecture me” from Donald Clark which was delivered in…wait for it…lecture format!  So we got a lecture from Donald on the fact that lectures were dead.

Donald does bring up some relevant (albeit obvious) points such as the ability for lectures to be boring, less engaging, and less interactive then other forms of teaching.  The clip above from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a poignant example of how bad they can be!  I would agree with Donald when he states that teaching is undervalued at universities and I believe that teaching and the design of learning activities (and resources) must be emphasised, rewarded and celebrated.

Donald makes reference to the teaching universities in the United States where teaching activity is the focus.  Donald suggests that one can immediately sense a difference in the quality of teaching at these universities.  It was suggested that academics who want to conduct research should be freed from the burden of teaching, that which they won’t do with passion anyway, in order to focus solely on their research.  A contentious issue I would think for university leaders who need to balance research agendas with teaching schedules.
An important consideration brought out in the Q&A session that followed was the fact that university spaces are built for lectures and often teaching spaces are not easily rearranged for other forms of activity.  I hope we will be seeing much more flexible teaching and learning spaces in the near future.

I still like the lecture as a form of sharing ideas, prompting questions and providing behaviour for modelling.  There is something special about an inspiring lecture.  Consider some of the notable TED talks as an example.  I would agree with Donald that universities should be recording and sharing inspiring lectures whenever possible.

Check the Alt-C twitter conversation for more commentary on this keynote. 

Is the Lecture Dead?

CC BY 4.0 Is the Lecture Dead? by Michael Paskevicius is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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