Is lecturing the cream of future massive online education? Part 2

Most educators agree that lectures are effective in face-to-face classroom delivery, especially with a small group of students, and as you (Doug Holton) shared, would be useful after students have had some exploratory activity, so they could ask and respond to questions, and a reason to know and learn.

I don’t know if Khan Academy videos are that effective in deep learning, as I have mentioned in my blog post, mainly because they are only “content delivery”, with a transmission of knowledge – facts and information model.  That seems to me forms the basis of surface learning, and may be rote learning in some cases. You could ask questions in the video to check students’ understanding, but then, this way of monitoring of students’ progress of learning is teacher-centered and such is only instrumental learning, with “surface learning” at best.  The multiple choice sort of assessment in video based lectures (with use of clickers) may help students in getting the basic concepts correct, at least in responding to questions, but the learning stops there, and the students may still continue with their misconceptions, if they don’t understand why they have chosen the wrong answer in the first place.  What may be a problem is students continue to remember the “right answer” as in rote learning, without a thorough understanding of the reasons behind the “right answer” through critical thinking in the learning process.  Your pointing out of the video Khan Academy and the Effectiveness of Science Videos-   Khan Academy and the Effectiveness of Science Videos well illustrates the point.  There has been overly hype about how one size suits all (with all the short videos).

Also, the flipped classroom would only work with more matured and experienced learners who have done the “homework” by watching some of the referred videos, and or reading some of the assigned work, artifacts before coming to class.  I have highlighted that there are certain limitations with such an approach, especially when students’ expectations are “spoon feeding” with lectures in class, and even asking lecturer to just answer the questions relating to the examinations, as they may be looking for getting “A”s, or getting all that is required to pass the examination, when examination results are what are counted in their “learning”.  In an education system where grades and certification are the central tenets for judging competence, wouldn’t it be rational for students to ask for lectures that would lead them to get all the answers to the examinations, rather than spending all the extra time in “learning” the hard or extra “knowledge and information” that wouldn’t be tested or examined?

So, lecture could still be an effective method for “learning” but may not be what the students want, if the professors are giving “long lecture”, mainly because of the limited attention span and loss of interest if the content is boring, or the presentation is overly theoretical, without any questions or activities.  This is all too common in educational videos (lectures) in most of the Youtube channels, where the professor speaks 100% of time, without any input or contribution from students.  This is rational given that the audience (of those videos) may be expecting content delivery, and so irrespective of whether it is Khan Academy or any other HE videos, the format are nearly always the same.  This is based on the assumption that people learn “best” with lecture, and that they have the prerequisite knowledge and skills necessary for attending the lectures.

In summary, I do think lectures are still valuable in learning, in face to face teaching and online teaching, though it has now been totally “over” used in MOOCs, where some of the lectures become talk show, with “entertainment sort of education – the entertain-education made in snippets of video episodes” in order to gain, attract and retain students’ attention.  This has led to a return to traditional education paradigm where learning is conceived to be a filling of empty vessel sort of one-way spoon feeding, even if it is based on questioning, or the “mastery learning” with repeated practice.  Besides, such cognitive/behavioral approach towards education would only encourage surface learning, especially when learners have no to little chance of interacting with the professors or other learners in the learning process.

So, what may be a better way of learning?  How could we enhance learning in MOOCs?  Our conversational model, project based and problem based learning, (or Social Constructivism) and distributed knowledge and learning with participatory and connective model of education and learning (or Connectivism) all could contribute to deep learning to a greater extent.  It seems that these models of learning are still not yet fully understood or appreciated in HE, especially when they are not included in the curriculum, as many of us understand.

Thanks for sharing your wonderful insights.

Image: Google and previous post on learning


7 thoughts on “Is lecturing the cream of future massive online education? Part 2

  1. Pingback: Is lecturing the cream of future massive online education? Part 2 | CUED |

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