As a student, I am conscious and excited the first half an hour (maximum :D) of the lecture classes. After that, my mind is preoccupied with thoughts of the past or future plans. Although I am staring at the professor, my mind is somewhere else. At the same time when I look around, I see at least three to four of students are sleeping. Does this happen to you?
I know digital technologies cannot be incorporated into all type of classes and we need to have some sort of lectures in my major, Civil engineering. But the most important point that we should keep in our mind as future professors or instructors is to know “Lectures are good for information transfer. In fact, lectures, while effective at covering material, are terrible for information transfer from the student’s point of view. 1” Covering materials are required, but there I no guarantee that students have learned anything. The instructor must be aware of the relationship between the length of the average lecture and the average human being’s attention span1. Otherwise, the students –like me- start thinking about irrelevant topics or fall asleep. How can we keep students more actively involved in the class?
How about using the learner-centered process such as active learning? Do you think students will fall asleep during the active-learning activities?
Nowadays, Active learning is changed to one of those academic buzzwords “whose meaning has been dulled from overuse. 2” The main concept of active learning defines as a learner-centered process, such as using digital technologies, in which students become more actively involved in pedagogies that feature teamwork and problem-solving. However, many researchers assert that using digital technologies as a tool for active learning will be more distractive than a gateway to learning. I somewhat agree with this assertion. I am TA for a class of ~100 students, and there is no voice when I enter the class every Tuesdays and Thursdays because everyone is silently busy with their laptops and cellphones. This is a tragic scene! They do not use the unique opportunity to “exchange ideas and thoughts and develop the ability to communicate with a variety of people. 3” the professor, who advocates the destructive effect of digital technologies on student learning, come to class every session and ask the students to silent and stow away their cellphones, tablets, and laptops during class meetings. Then an hour lecture starts, and after 15 minutes, most of the students fall asleep.
Thus, It seems both digital technologies and teacher-oriented system featuring lectures are negatively impacting the learning experience for students and educators to some degree.
John Warner3 well said: that instructors must see themselves as “more of a catalyst for learning, rather than a conduit of information. 3” So, they must aim for balance by combining lecture and active learning together to produce as rich a learning environment.