The Lecture…Version 2.0

medium_3228729514Why does the lecture persist? Should it?

As teachers, we sure love to talk at our students! The most intense form of this “teacher-talk” is delivered every day in classrooms across the world, from middle schools through universities, as the age old LECTURE.

For decades, perhaps centuries, it has been argued that lectures are not the most effective form of teaching. Indeed the ideas of a Thinking Classroom itself leads us to less teacher talking and more student thinking. But yet lectures remain a common occurrence in many classrooms. Like all instruction, lecture is not necessarily bad in itself, but it can be done badly.

We believe the use of lecture, when used effectively, can be helpful when used with a variety of other learning modes. BUT — It definitely needs a re-vamp, an update, an overhaul. In fact, people have been trying to get it re-vamped for…well, let’s just say awhile…

Some thoughts from others on lecturing

From 2000:     Hativa, N. “Lecturing and Explaining.” Chapter in Teaching for effective learning in higher education. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

“The success and effectiveness of the lecture depends upon its quality–there are good lectures and bad lectures…effective lecturing is much more than just communicating knowledge. It arouses interest and motivation…”

From 1981:    G.Gibbs Twenty terrible reasons for lecturing, SCED Occasional Paper No. 8, Birmingham.

“I would not like to leave the impression that I feel that there is no justification for ever lecturing. I lecture myself (though seldom for more than fifteen minutes at a stretch and then seldom when written substitutes are available). I believe there are circumstances when a well structured, well paced, varied, lively lecture can be the most efficient teaching method. But I do believe there is far more lecturing going on than can reasonably be justified by the evidence concerning the efficiency of lectures, especially bearing in mind the nature of the educational goals we claim to be striving for.”

From 1968: The Modified Lecture: A Useful Technique for the Teacher, Charles K. West, The Clearing House, Vol. 43, No. 3

“The chief disadvantage of the traditional lecture is the total lack of involvement, the passivity, of the student in the situation. It is true that some types of learnings take place when a students is passive. For most complex types of human learnings, however, involvement is a necessary correlate of learning. Typically, the only person involved in the traditional lecture situation is the lecturer. It can be said that at least one person learned, in any case.

Investigators of interaction analysis have begin to attack teacher talk in terms of the amount occurring in the classroom. Analyses indicate that less learning occurs in the classroom in which “teacher-talk” proceeds in an uninterrupted sequence.”

Upgrading the Lecture to Version 2.0

Lecture As Content Delivery is Dead
Jeff Utecht, a former teacher and blogger, shares the idea that lecturing for content delivery is no longer relevant with the explosion and abundance of free and open content through the internet. He proposes that “Lectures should be used to inspire, tell stories, and push ideas”.

Don’t Lecture Me: Rethinking How College Students Learn
Here’s a post from the Mind/Shift blog, written by Emily Hanford, describing a strategy of peer instruction, in place of the lecture, as used by Eric Mazur.  “….[he] now teaches all of his classes using a “peer-instruction” approach. Rather than teaching by telling, he teaches by questioning.”

TED Talks: Ideas worth spreading
If you haven’t watched or heard of TED Talks, it is popular website that houses a collection of lectures. The only limit? The talk must be 18 minutes or less. Here’s their description: “We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.”

Some Ideas to help Start Your Upgrade

Need some ideas on how to use technology to make your next planned lecture more interactive? Jeff extends the discussion in his post on “The Evolution of Lecture”

An collection of resources/ideas (some good, maybe some not so good) on designing Interactive Lectures, part of the SERC Pedagogic Service. The authors suggest the use of “engagement triggers” and “interactive activities”.

Like the TED Talks? There is now a new site created just for educators, TED ED – Lessons worth Sharing. Lessons build from TED-like videos are available on a variety of topics. The lesson includes three pices: Watch (the video), Think (questions to explore) and Dig Deeper (additional resources). Perhaps the most powerful feature, you can upload any video from YouTube and turn it into a TED-ED lesson!!

photo credit: Tadeeej via photopin cc


Posted on January 11, 2013, in Change, Instruction, Strategies. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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