In my last post I mentioned the possibility of university-level course lectures being delivered online, possibly reducing the number of jobs for college professors. But Marshall Kirkpatrick writes for ReadWriteWeb about a new high-tech approach to learning that dispenses with lectures and focuses on group discussions:
Lectures made sense before the invention of the printing press, argues Harvard physics professor Eric Mazur, but at this point in history they are far from the best way to transmit large amounts of information or to make use of face-to-face time in the classroom.
Over nearly 20 years, Mazur has developed an innovative teaching methodology and is now testing software to support its application in any classroom. The basic idea is that the bulk of information consumption should be done outside the classroom and in-class time should be spent doing guided, measured, optimized peer-to-peer discussion in order to maximize retention of knowledge. Mazur’s National Science Foundation-backed startup Learning Catalytics looks like a very cool way to facilitate that class time using web and mobile devices.