I was chatting to my daughter late last night on Skype: she is in her first year at University and everything is new, exciting and confusing.
Not least her first experiences of lectures: 400 coughing and sneezing 18 year olds in a lecture theatre, rapid fire powerpoint, notice of regular tests, a 50 page book to read by next week - all around her people taking down notes. There was even a prize given away for the student who could remember and quote back at the lecturer an obscure author she had mentioned at the start....
As an added incentive to attend the lecture, students were informed that they could not have access to the lecture notes or slides until later that day, and only then if they answered some questions to check they had been paying attention and taking notes.
My daughter has done well to get to where she is, being midly dyslexic, with specific difficulties in reading and comprehending that were confirmed in a test the University carried out last week. Taking notes whilst listening is not something she can manage easily - in fact it would help her understanding of what is being said if she could have copies of the slides in front of her to make notes on as she goes along.
Being new to Blackboard it wasn't easily apparent to her where she could access the tests she had to take in order to access the slides .... on top of all the confusion and disorientation she was already feeling in a new environment, her own learning difficulties were adding to the problem. She was sad and disappointed. I just feel angry.
On the positive side, she has got support from the University for her dyslexia, she is in a small seminar/workshop group where she can talk about the course in a slower and more considered way, there are some good learning materials available on Blackboard and in her text books, and there is a drop- in session available to those who want further explanation of some of the points covered in the lecture - so in her own time and in her own way, hopefully, she can begin to learn what she needs.
My point is - what is the point of lectures? I don't think it is only students with some form of learning difficulty who need support, small group work, handouts before the session, clear signposting on how to use the VLE.
When I first saw Mike Wesch's "Vision of Student's Today" I thought it was reflecting an archaic, peculiarly American phenomenon - I have obviously been teaching at PG level for too long....I'm with Wes Streeting on this!! Let's abolish lectures and encourage personalised learning.