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Lectures and Notes

Lectures and Notes An Article written to provoke critical thought and debate about a 'traditional' learning technique.

This is a Free Sample Resource
Categories: Article, Teaching & Learning, Learning Styles, Any Subject, Educators

Tags: Active Learning Lecture Learning Styles
What is a Lecture?

College is a place where a professor’s lecture notes go straight to the students’ lecture notes, without passing through the brains of either.
Mark Twain (attrib.)

A lecture is much more of a dialogue than many of you probably realize.
George Wald 

Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused. But on a higher level.
Enrico Fermi

The lecture is an oral presentation of information, usually from one speaker to many. It is often used to convey important facts, theories, data and concepts to an audience who attempt to record and comprehend, but with little or no opportunity to interact with the person standing at the front.

I Like Lectures

But only when they meet five criteria:

1. I'm interested in the subject
2. The subject matter is new to me
3. The lecturer is entertaining and engaging
4. I am allowed to make notes in my own way
5. They last less than 30 minutes (my attention span, even when fully lecture-motivated)

I don't like lectures to varying degrees when one or more of the above are missing. But that's just me; one of several billion learners on the planet, each with different learning preferences and varying styles of engagement with new knowledge. And who am I to impose my preferences on to another person?

There are two main problems with lectures; a related risk, and an effective solution.

The Problems with Lectures
The lecture is the default position. It's what we do because it's what we've always done. But that doesn't make it right and it doesn't make it effective. We have our lecture mode - we become alert, pick up a pen, settle back, or lean forwards, preparing to attend. And then either attend to the content or pretend to. 

The lecture is also a false economy: surely putting 100 students in front of an expert is more cost effective than small tutorials with the same speaker? Yes, but how effective is the lecture itself if it is merely a presentation of 'the next step' which students could easily download, read, discuss or discover for themselves?

A Risk
Imagine a world where all communication in the lecture form was banned: university presentations, political speeches, appeals for help, pupils sharing their work, soliloquies, keynote addresses, rights of passage talks, sermons, celebrations, warnings, standup and many more. A much duller world - and one that would deny some folks their preferred style of learning. So the risk in attacking the lecture is that we loose a valued facet of human interaction. However if we do not challenge the lecture, the risk is as great - that we deny learners effective interactive learning experiences and we become complacent in our growth as teachers

A Solution
This month's Thinking Tool is the Active Lecture. A tried and tested Thinking Classroom technique that combines the best of the traditional lecture with full audience engagement. It's a synergistic learning form that makes the most of learner diversity and presenter skill.

Related Resources:

Active Lecture Powerpoint

Active Lecture Thinking

Is Knowledge Power?



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