RESOURCE: Is the Lecture Dead?
The nation’s 80,000 medical, 20,000 dental, and 180,000 nursing school students might think that lectures are dead, or at least dying. Health professions curricula increasingly feature small-group, interactive teaching, and successive waves of enthusiasm have arisen for laptops, PDAs, and tablet computers as the new paradigms of learning. Commentators frequently single out the lecture as the prototypically old school, obsolete learning technology, in comparison to which newer educational techniques offer interactive, customized, and self-paced learning alternatives.
This is no arcane academic matter. The LCME, the organization that accredits US medical schools, strictly limits the number of hours per week students may spend in lectures. So seriously does the organization take this mandate that, in October of 2011, it placed one of Texas’s medical schools on probation, in part because its curriculum relied too heavily on “passive” approaches to learning — foremost among them, lectures. In medical education circles, “lecture” is fast becoming a term of derision.