Sunday, February 1, 2009

Goodbye lectures!

Recent news from MIT - lectures are out, and smaller, interactive classes are in!

This recent story from the NY Times reports that MIT's Physics department "has replaced the traditional large introductory lecture with smaller classes that emphasize hands-on, interactive, collaborative learning. Last fall, after years of experimentation and debate and resistance from students, who initially petitioned against it, the department made the change permanent. Already, attendance is up and the failure rate has dropped by more than 50 percent."

Rather than the traditional 300-student lecture, this undergraduate course now consists of smaller, interactive classes. Students work together, discussing, sharing and exploring as they learn. The new high-tech classrooms are configured with networked PCs on shared tables, whiteboards, and display screens. The "lecturer", rather than talking at the students, briefly presents a set of principles, which the students then explore together, greatly enhancing their understanding.

MIT certainly aren't the first to recognise the importance of interaction and collaboration in true student-centered learning, but this news article will raise awareness of a trend that (hopefully) we'll all be following soon.

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