Caveat lector: This blog is where I try out new ideas. I will often be wrong, but that's the point.

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Updating university education

There was a question over on Quora a while back: "Will lecture-style teaching at universities become obsolete? If so, what do you think will replace lectures?"

I gave a somewhat off-the-cuff answer based on some thought processes that had been kicking around in the back of my head for a while. I'm curious to hear what people think.

From a purely cost-benefit point of view, it always struck me as wastefully redundant to have college professors and lecturers, many of whom are sub-par teachers but whom may be excellent researchers, teaching the same basic math, literature, biology, physics, chemistry, etc. courses. There are more than 4000 colleges in the US alone. At 10 hours of work per week of lecturing, prep, grading, etc., that’s more than 1 million hours per year in redundant work by highly trained specialists. Per course.

Why are we having a bunch of people who are trained to do research (and often not trained to teach), teach the same redundant information that takes time away from their research? Why not just broadcast lectures by the best of the best via some education syndication to consolidate the actual lecturing and have other professors and lecturers on-hand to supplement the information?

That said, homogeneity of education strikes me as a less-than-ideal solution...


  1. thank you so much for this great informations !!

  2. perfect work thank you for this topic

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  5. Jessica:

    So I've been having a conversation about this on another social medium, and the topic of modern apprenticeships came up. It seems like that's a way to keep connections between faculty and students that are more directly relevant while not having the inconsistency of introductory courses.

    I'm certainly not saying that what I proposed was the best idea, but I certainly think a change is necessary.

    Lots of folks have said that at "large universities most intro science courses are taught by graduate students and lecturers", but that wasn't my experience at 'SC or Berkeley.

    Anyway, somewhat related to this topic, have you read this?


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