Lecture-driven approaches to teaching and learning have come under a lot of criticism in recent years but that doesn’t mean they can’t be effective.
Dr. Monisha Pasupathi, a psychology professor at the University of Utah and presenter for The Great Courses’ How We Learn, is an expert in how people of all ages learn and process information—and she’s also an excellent lecturer.
This episode of the Leading Learning podcast features an archive interview that Jeff conducted with Monisha while writing Leading the Learning Revolution. In it, they discuss common myths about learning, the impact that living in a highly connected, information-flooded world has on learning, as well as the role that lectures can and should play in lifelong learning.
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[00:20] –A reminder to check out the upcoming Leading Learning event, Learning • Technology • Design (LTD) to be held May 18-19, 2016 in Arlington, VA. The event is designed specifically to help professionals in the business of continuing education and professional development find new and better ways to engage learners and create lasting impact through the effective use of technology. Most of the program for the event is complete so be sure to check it out.
[01:33] – A preview of what will be covered in this episode which features an interview Jeff Cobb did for a podcast with Dr. Monisha Pasupathi of the University of Utah several years ago while writing Leading the Learning Revolution. This highlights how you can reuse content from the past, a point discussed in last week’s Leading Learning podcast–A Podcast About the Huge Opportunity of Podcasting!
[07:05] – Myths about learning and how adults learn. What are some of the fundamental misunderstandings?
[8:47] – How does living in such a highly connected world impact learning? How well prepared are most people to learn effectively?
[10:09] – Two things make assessing the flood of information difficult.
[11:12] – We’re not as good at verifying and remembering the sources of information as we are at learning content.
[13:19] – Lectures, in spite of all the criticism they get these days, are actually efficient ways of helping people learn.
[16:19] – We may have lost the capacity to experience lectures as interactive.
Here’s a quote from Monisha that Jeff used in Leading the Learning Revolution:
Good lectures can take people through an expert’s thought process in a way that doesn’t happen when you’re very interactive. They are really organized, really structured, and really digestible ways to get quite a bit of information in a relatively short time. To acquire the same level of learning from interactive models often will require considerably more time. It often takes considerably more expertise on the part of the teacher or the instructor, because you have to know how to get a group of non-expert people from Point A to Point B. You have to know where they typically hit a wall in their understanding; what kinds of misconceptions they bring to the table.
The other thought I always have when people talk about being more interactive is that we may have lost the capacity to experience lectures as interactive. I remember a really interesting experience I had in Germany where I went to a talk, and it was given in German. And my German wasn’t terrific at the time, so I had a hard time processing this lecture, but what I noticed about it was that it was a very old-fashioned lecture. It was given by a professor who had been there before the wall had come down in the former Eastern Bloc, and he spoke in fully articulated sentences for something like forty minutes in beautiful, erudite German. What I think we don’t experience anymore is that kind of lengthy oration.
I suspect there was a time when we used to have better skills for this type of experience and for feeling engaged with lectures. We may be going too far into interactivity in such a way that it is actually undermining people’s skill at listening to lectures. Because it is, to some extent, something that we learn how to do, and I’d hate to see us unlearn that in favor of new instructional methods that have their own value, but also have their own flaws.
[18:29] – BUT, there are certainly many boring lectures out there! What can subject matter experts do to deliver more engaging, effective lectures?
[21:59] – And what about webinars? Any way to make those better? What about bringing a “storytelling” approach to it?
[25:49] – What are some emerging developments Dr. Pasupathi finds really exciting in the world of learning right now?
[29:19] – The attraction of being able to learn so much post-career
[30:13] – Wrap-Up
A reminder to check out the upcoming Leading Learning event, Learning • Technology • Design (LTD) to be held May 18-19, 2016 in Arlington, VA.
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[31:54] – Sign off