Are lectures dying out?

Here’s a blog post from an academic (in Engineering) at Dublin City University.

I have thought similar things from time to time. I enjoy lecturing – mainly because I like talking about physics and astrophysics – but I am unsure of how much they add to the students’ education. In fact, when I was a student, I think I learned relatively little from attending lectures (although I still have most of my undergraduate notes). For me the real learning came from working through problems. For that reason I tend to keep the content of my lectures relatively light on detail, but use tutorials and worked examples a lot.

As it happens, I’m about to do this term’s teaching evaluations. I’m giving the two modules I’m teaching this semester for the first time. I’m looking forward to finding out what the students think so I can improve things next year. Even if the response is positive there are always things you can do better.

Tales from Academia

There’s a small lecture theatre beside my office that holds about 40 students. I regularly pass it and peep in to see what’s going on. Originally I did it out of nosiness but these days I’m interested in attendance rates.

Most of the time when I look in there is a handful of students looking bored or knackered, with quite a few looking at their phones. In fairness, the lectures seem a bit dull and often involve a scientist or mathematician writing on the blackboard with his/her back to the students.

I’ve also noticed that it’s much easier this year to find a car parking space. I’m usually in before 8am but even on days when I’m not in until 10am or so, I rarely have trouble finding a place. This was not true just a few years ago.

And now, when I have a 9am lecture, I tell the…

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