The lecture is broken: a manifesto for change

  • Martin Hanneghan Department of Computer Science, Liverpool John Moores University
Keywords: Social media, learning technology, lectures, digital natives, classroom delivery


Let me start by saying that I love lecturing. I take pride in preparing high-quality slides and standing in front of the class imparting my knowledge to a captive audience who seem to appreciate it, on the whole.  But if I’m honest, I’m just not convinced the lecture is fit for purpose.  There is growing evidence that the traditional didactic lecture is past its use-by date.  Students are now sophisticated IT-literate learners who demand a rich, multimedia experience from their studies.  They have grown up on a diet of rich media (YouTube, iTunesU, podcasts, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Google, etc.) and are fully conversant in finding information quickly to satisfy their needs.  Didactic lectures are often delivered in rooms that serve multiple purposes and fail to address the unique needs and desires of aural, visual and kinaesthetic learners with a single, blunt instrument (often a PowerPoint presentation).  Attendance patterns in lectures exhibit some large variations and if the main tool in our arsenal is the lecture, there may be over 40 per cent of our students who may regularly missing (or avoiding) this mechanism.  This paper highlights some of these problematic areas and propose some radical ideas for a future teaching environment in which the lecture takes a back seat in favour of a ‘didactic mash-up’ of engagement activities and exploitation of the full power of the Internet as a learning tool.  This includes looking at how our IT facilities are used, how staff-student ratios can be better applied, how our future learning spaces should be constructed and how academic staff can guide students through the mass of online learning that is available 24 hours a day via the Internet.