The epitaph of the lecture has been written many times – for example, see our previous post. It is truly remarkable that it has survived the arrival of so many competitors. This has included the arrival of books, then the advent of cheap publishing and the money to pay for it in the 19th century. In the 20th century it survived film and television, and in the 21st century so far it appears to be barely touched by the the Internet. Although this last is scarcely 20 years old, and there’s plenty of opportunity yet. However much of the educational content on YouTube, TED talks, in the new concept of Massive Online Courses, and in implementations of the Flipped Classroom is in fact short lectures.
The lecture has been criticised as
- Not good for learning. Too much too fast, little knowledge retained
- One-time, one-place – inefficient and repetitive for teachers
- Some students don’t attend
- Some lectures aren’t very good
So why does it survive? It does have some key assets
- You get to see the teacher, and the teacher gets to see you. Both parties like that.
- Sometimes they have something memorable to say or show
- Lecturers often set the exams, so you learn what they are likely to ask
- They make you think about a topic for at least an hour
- They’re cheap and they’re the norm. There’s nothing simpler than picking up your slides and going to lecture to room of 300 people for an hour. Compare that with 30 x tutorials of 10.
Recording them online takes longer.