The Lecture - A Questionable Activity

Lecture halls take up huge areas of space and these spaces are dedicated to activities which are surely of questionable value. GIven that there is fairly broad consensus about the advantages of active learning and constructivist approaches to learning and the current state of knowledge about individual differences, personal motivations for learning and the efficacy of just in time learning the future life of the lecture, in its current form, should be short.

If it is necessary to make materials available to students in audio/visual presentation formats then the following may offer some advantages to learners over the lecture format.

1 Record presentations for online delivery (probably not a recording of a lecture). It could be a short video presentation, or a narrated PowerPoint presentation made in an individual’s office, or in the case of a presentation which will have a long shelf life it could be some much more professionally produced video/audio/media presentation produced to match needs.

2 The presentations could be produced in ‘bite sized chunks’ and in formal or informal contexts to match needs. An informal, short video could be produced to respond to an issue or a question or it could be produced to provide a suitable means of communicating an idea, stimulating discussion, or introducing a topic.

3 Communication in a timeous and technologically appropriate and efficient manner is thus encouraged. The message has to be high quality and the delivery methodology suitable for purpose.

4 The presentations could be viewed at a time and place suitable for the learner and viewed and reviewed as often as required by the participant.

5 The presentations could be set in an interactive online course context so that questions can be posed for all students about the content and the students could in turn ask questions or ask for clarification about the content.

6 Technologies are now available for viewers of these videos to insert tags into the videos when there is a point requiring further clarification. An email is then automatically sent to the author of the video to facilitate clarification or development of the point at mutually convenient times using mutually convenient technologies.

7 Interactivity is probably best set in an asynchronous context but synchronous models of interactivity are possible.

8 The process is also better suited to deal with differentiation and individual learning needs and learning difficulties.

9 The learning process is thus more student centred, more active, reflective, flexible in terms of time and place of study, and could thus be a more effective mode of learning for many students and for many situations.

10 The lecture hall spaces could be re-deployed as active learning spaces for students where collaboration, cooperation and peer support activities are the norm.

Comments are most welcome.