One of the most striking quotes that came out of this year’s Professional Colleges and Universities Summit came from Frank Mulgrew, the President of the Online Education Institute at Post University. During his presentation on the next generation of online learning environments, Mulgrew stated that “the lecture does not work” at professional colleges and universities.
Though we often take lectures for granted, it’s important to remember how commonplace they are in higher ed, to recognize the implications of Mulgrew’s bold statement. If lectures “do not work,” then every day, thousands of professors in lecture halls across the country are ineffectively educating their students. With that in mind, how did Mulgrew come to this thought-provoking conclusion?
He began by explaining the difference between passive and active learning. Face-to-face lectures are considered passive because the learner simply sits and listens to the instructor without actively participating in the learning and teaching process. Mulgrew went on to argue that the part of our brain used to receive information in lectures – and to retrieve that information later – is weaker than the part of our brain that participates in more active learning. Examples of active learning include group discussions or experienced-based learning that allows students to take ownership of their education and actively participate in the classroom.
I have to agree with Mulgrew that active forms of learning are incredibly beneficial to students – especially those at professional and career colleges. Since these learners often pursue programs that are geared towards a specific career path, it is critical that they learn practical skills and information that they can quickly transfer to the workplace. In other words, simply listening to a lecture about a technical skill would probably be less effective than a more hands-on learning experience.
But even still, is the lecture really as ineffective as Mulgrew discussed in his presentation?
What do you think? Is the face-to-face lecture “dead” at professional colleges and universities? If so, what teaching methods and technologies will replace them in the future? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!