My 60-second lecture
delivered at 37th Street & Locust Walk
University of Pennsylvania
June 9, 1999

I intend to conform to the time limit set here - a sixty-second lecture.

That's the first problem with the lecture. It's a completely artificial learning experience. In the 49th minute of the fifty-minute classroom lecture, the professorial talking head just stops, sometimes artfully, sometimes clumsily. But stops - asks if there are any questions, which they aren't, because there's one minute left. And what can you do in one minute?

Here are 4 propositions about why we should live to see the end of the lecture as we know it.

1. The "technology" of universities which encouraged the creation of the thing we call the lecture is an outmoded technology. The lecture is an I know/you don't, I have/you need form. But knowledge itself is changed - at least quantitatively. It cannot be wholly had. It must be accessed, shared, collaborated upon.

2. Learners learn better when education is learner-centered rather than teacher-centered. Good lectures, which are easier to prepare than good interactions, are teacher-centered.

3. Did you know that I'm already teaching students in Penn's class of 2003? One of them wrote to the class this morning: "A good learning community is one that wanders around."

4. Lectures are not forever the way learning really is. They are not open-ended. Except occasionally when the lecturer miscalculates the time, and must end just before he can finish his final. . . .

(See also: Samuel Johnson on the lecture.)


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Last modified: Thursday, 09-Mar-2000 06:30:13 EST