I have heard Michael Wesch speak a couple of times, and find the direction he is going is exciting, fascinating, and frightening. After re-viewing John Naughton’s ALT-C 2011 keynote where he referred to Wesch’s work as a good guess at the future of successful teaching, I watched a couple of his youtube videos to remind me of some of his points.
If these walls could talk… What would they say. Against a backdrop of Anywhere U’s full lecture theatre (I’ve been there plenty) Wesch asks what the traditional lecture theatre represents. He makes the following list:
– to learn is to acquire information
– information is scarce and hard to find
– trust authority for good information
– authorised information is beyond discussion
– obey authority
– follow along
Completely true – but completely out of touch in todays world.
As I talk to people about teaching in the C21, I worry about where we are headed. John Naughton outlined three case studies (music industry, classified ads, and encyclopedias) where the principles involved were sideswiped by the changes brought about by the internet. The funny thing is was that as most of us saw their resistance to new ways of doing things, we collectively shook our heads at their obstinance in clinging to what (from the outside) were such obviously outdated business models. How could they have been so blind? They were so caught up in their centrality to the model, they were unable to foresee their own obsolescence looming (and in some cases are still fighting it). They were (are) dealing with information that was ideal for digital delivery, but couldn’t see how that might impact them. They were so committed to their own view of the world, they were blind to the changes until it was too late.
Are we, in HE, doing the same thing. Think about the lecture theatre and what it says about learning. Think about our insistance on continuing the lecture as the principle form of teaching.
Too many lecturers are defending the lecture (theatre) and all it stands for in the face of overwealming changes that are battering us on every side.
The Lecture Theatre is Dead, Long Live the Lecture Theatre!