Scotland Universities a Model for Interactive Learning Lectures
A recent study conducted across 200 tertiary education establishments (colleges, academies and universities) and 15,000 undergraduate students throughout England have shown that the traditional university lectures are being done away with to make room for interactive and student-centered type teaching. Traditionally these lectures featured 500 students per room in a large auditorium with slides being flashed on large projectors toward the side of the lecture halls.
The recent study conducted by the Higher Education Policy Institute shows that these have become obsolete, with attendance dropping below 20% in 2013 for universities who still employed these material-centered lectures. When asked in a survey about their absences, students said that it was due to the availability of teachers’ notes online—why attend a class where you’re hardly paid any attention anyway and compete with other people to take notes when these notes are available online?
David Willets, the Universities Minister, says that this feedback is of the utmost importance when it comes to giving schools, academies and universities feedback. The hodge-podge insertion of technology into the educational system makes it very difficult for both in-person lectures and technological learning platforms to be effective. Mr. Willets says that if they are going to be pursuing either, traditional university lectures need to be set aside to make room for new, well-integrated interactive lectures with smaller classes which treat the academic experience as something more than just note-taking.
As a response to this, several educational establishments including some of the top schools throughout the UK have been coming up with new programs that allow students to gain a first-hand experience that will keep them coming to class. A good example of this is Sheffield University which was deemed by another study as the top school for the student experience in the entire UK.
Scotland is one of the countries in the UK with the highest attendance rate; 70% of Scottish university students attend their classes on a regular basis. The study showed that despite the fact that Scottish university education is supposedly “less premium” than British education because Scottish kids go to school for free and receive a monthly stipend, more than 68% of Scottish university students say that schooling is worth every shilling they spend on education whereas in England, only 41% responded this way.
Universities in Scotland have been noted to have more out-of-the-classroom activities such as field trips, seminars and observational lectures where they are exposed to different kinds of stimuli—these alternative classes are backed up by days during which physical attendance is not required to give them time to work on their synthesis essays which are to be uploaded online. This balances out the need for one’s physiological presence in the classroom and the utilization of modern technological platforms such as TurnItIn and various university-specific platforms.
Mr. Willets says that he, along with the other esteemed faculty and staff of universities throughout England will be looking to Scotland and Sheffield University as they come up with a new model for how lectures in this modern age should be conducted. As of late, Mr. Willets and the top universities in England such including Oxford and Sheffield have been coming up with programs that will be pitched and suggested as they are consulted by the Universities Minister. Mr. Willets says that looking for a way to best integrate the personal and technological aspects of education when coming up with new programs and methods that will enrich the educational experiences of students throughout England is their top priority in 2014.