College lectures are not too old-fashioned for today’s college students. Despite the constant focus on increasing the use of technology in the classroom, or in the lecture hall, students of all generations benefit from being forced to use their ears and pay attention to a speaker. A look at the positive effects of learning to sit through lectures:
First of all, lectures reinforce the skills utilized in prioritizing and determining context. A student who sits through lectures must quickly learn how to determine which information provided by the speaker is most important. By recognizing visual and verbal cues a student can determine which points of a lecture are weighted more heavily by the speaker, providing a good idea of which information is more important for upcoming assignments and exams. Not exercising these skills in college could lead to new employees being unable to “read between the lines” when receiving presentations and trainings at work.
On-the-job training may involve lots of lecture, with a supervisor or experienced employee giving verbal information on how to complete a task. Students who are not used to writing down information that is given verbally may be inefficient during these on-the-job trainings, quickly provoking the annoyance of the trainer. Additionally, lectures often call for student participation, which would also be expected during job training. New employees who freeze up when asked for a response during a job training will likely be viewed as less competent than colleagues who were experienced with the interpersonal dynamics of active lecturing.
Secondly, lectures enhance mutual respect between speaker and listener. A student who is forced to sit through a lecture will have more opportunity to develop interpersonal communication skills than a student who downloads all of his or her notes from a class webpage. By physically going to class and having to sit up and pay attention a college student will develop more discipline and learn more about how to interact with authority figures like lecturers and professors. By contrast, students who stick solely to online courses may enter the work world woefully unprepared to interact with authority figures, provoking their ire and having a rocky career start.
Third, students who pay attention to lectures, involving both visual and audio stimulation, are likely to learn more. Students retain more information when they put more effort into attaining it, meaning that physically going to class and engaging in pen-and-paper note-taking creates more mental stimulation than viewing something on a webpage. Additionally, not having to attend a lecture in person may mean that a college student is more easily distracted by convenient nearby entertainment, such as music or television. “Studying” notes from a webpage may have little benefit if the student is busy texting and/or listening to music or watching TV at the same time.
Finally, lectures teach public speaking. According to Stanford University, lecturing involves much preparation and skill, the benefits of which can be used by students as well as faculty. A college graduate who sat through many courses involving routine lecturing will likely be more prepared for leadership and training roles than a student who learned via webpage or textbook. Seeing how masters of the lecture handled their craft can help a student build a foundation for their own future of training and leading others. It is comparatively harder to learn good public speaking, interpersonal communication, and leadership dynamics from a book or computer screen.