In getting to the brass tacks of any educational system, one of the most fundamental is also one of the most overlooked. As teaching has developed over the years, the lecture method has been incorporated into instruction so completely that, today, it feels as though it were more like a fact of education rather than a choice that educators are making. However, lecture methodology is merely one small part of instructional tools that are available to educators and, studies show, one of the least effective in promoting student motivation, comprehension, and retention.
Disadvantages of the Lecture Method
1. It is a teacher-centred method of teaching.
2. It kills students’ initiatives as it makes passive listeners.
3. It does not cater for the individual differences of the students. This is evident in the sense that the students are taught by the teacher a the same speed as a whole group.
4. It does not provide students with enough opportunities to practice their oral communication skills.
The lecture method has been the prevailing system of instruction in classrooms since the creation of the modern public learning institution. “This approach to learning was developed during the industrial age, some two centuries ago. The concept is for students to sit passively in rows of chairs or tables all facing the presenter, who usually resides at a lectern. A lecture is a “one-to-many” form of communication, involving little or no audience participation. It is authoritarian, by nature.” The main issue with this method is that it makes students a passive part of the learning process. This cultivates an environment of passivity, a situation less favorable of fostering student engagement and thus student connection with class material. Simply put the lecture classroom becomes the perfect environment to foster boredom and promote inattention. The lead author of a new study on the subject by the University of British Columbia notes that in traditional lectures “there’s not much learning, and for the learning that does take place, the retention is fairly bad.”
On the flipside, we find what many educators feel is the future of education – the active learning process. In order to create an active learning environment, educators must create student-centered approaches which force students to engage with the material. This is known as the interactive learning process and edtech is the future of the this method. In the past, interactive learning has been achieved through expensive lab work and field trips. While these methods are highly successful at engaging students in science and history, they are also costly, time-consuming, and simply out of reach for some teachers. “The rapid growth of the Internet and the high bandwith capabilities of the World Wide Web means that interactive learning can be designed for delivery anytime, anywhere to anyone.”
Edtech can provide interactive learning for a low cost, while maintaining the benefits of interactivity. Math education specifically stands to gain from interactive technologies such as MathQuack, which “interact with students on a progressive level, meaning that the software program enables the computer to advance the material as the student grasps each concept successfully or to review a concept he or she is having difficulty with.” A recent study of over 5,000 students and 120 teachers showed that students in classrooms equipped with interactive learning technologies fared significantly better than those in traditional lecture-based classrooms. As we look to the future of education, edtech’s uniquely interactive capabilities become an important part of keeping students engaged.