Future of Learning (is design): Let’s talk about ‘the lecture’

When was the last time you, as an adult learner, placed yourself in an unfamiliar, yet necessary learning context? Learning something that made your brain hurt?

I like to use the expression in my workshops ‘create the need-to-know’, asking educators about whether the content has purposeful application to a context that matters to the learner. Right now, that’s where I am. Why else would you take an online learning course on deductive reasoning if there wasn’t a compelling need-to-know?

Back in 2012 I wrote a couple of posts about the value of the ‘lecture’. While I often cringe at reading my early posts, I took a deep breath and revisited these. I found that in 1706, the term was described as “to address severely and at length” and I encouraging readers to think about the place of the lecture in today’s education and suggesting that we have something to learn from TED talks. (June 8, 2012 and June 10, 2012)


I was reminded of these posts when I read this interesting article on Edutopia recently: Getting rid of the lecture bottleneck, which states that when it comes to learner engagement, the lecture is the problem.

The lecture is a bottleneck for several reasons—one size does not fit all in learning; there’s no replay, rewind, or fast-forward button in a lecture; and a large group of students are all dependent on one teacher to access learning.

As a learner of deductive reasoning, I have realised the difference between sitting through a live lecture of this subject (cue: glaze-over) and the opportunities the video lecture affords to replay, rewind, or fast-forward.  I know my limitations very well, when it comes to attention span and my note taking scribbling technique, if I was in a live lecture. I would quickly lose attention, my mind would wander and I would begin thinking about what’s for dinner that night.

In contrast, in this online learning experience, the videos with a duration between 6 and 14 minutes and short regular quizzes that I can retake until I ‘get it’, are helping me and if I do start to glaze-over I just rewind and replay. So when I come to analysing data and applying deductive reasoning, I have knowledge to apply. It’s my need-to-know. My learning is purposeful.

Screen Shot 2018-10-29 at 8.50.14 am.png
As you can see from the screen shot – the background and lighting aren’t the important things. Look at the note on the side.

A few things to think about

  • Empathy
    • When was the last time you were a learner with a need-to-know?
    • What do your students do when they have their own need-to-know outside school?
  • Engagement
    • How might you reconsider the lecture for student learning or professional learning?
  • Experiences
    • How can you start to utilise video presentation of content?
  • Ecosystem
    • How can the organisation of the learning environment support rethinking the lecture?

5E model







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