As part of the University of Canberra's Learning & Teaching Week, I was invited to come along to "The Lecture is not dead!". Michael de Percy made the case, followed by comments by two other UoC people. Michael started with a mock video-conference with a fictional "cowboy" lecturer. This had a clever pre-recorded segment with Michael in a cowboy hat on screen apparently replying to questions from the real Michael in the room. This was mildly amusing, with the cowboy lecturer making ironic statements about lecturing. But the sound was very poor and the video stopped and had to be restarted, ruining the illusion of a video conference. Also I had difficulty working out when Michael was being serious and when he was being ironic.
The distorted sound gave me a headache and so I left the room for a few minutes. When I returned Michael was presenting Powerpoint slides with a lot of colour and text in them. At this point I became unsure as to if the comedy had finished and he was now being serious. The cowboy Michael had suggested using loud pop music in lectures and throwing around beach balls. I tool this to be a joke, but Michael then said that world music appealed to the overseas students and he seemed to be being serious. There were also comments about the use of "clickers" which were cheap if purchased with a text book, which I was not sure was intended as a joke but sounded like one.
The two UoC people providing a response did not clarify any of this. At question time, as requested I announced that I had given "My Last Lecture" at ANU and received a round of applause.
Overall the session was disappointing. About all I got from it was conformation of my view that humour should be used sparingly in any presentation. If this was intended as a demonstration of how lectures could be made interesting if failed completely and confirms my view that the lecture is dead.
What was more useful was an information discussion after the formal sessions, about how UoC is exploring alternatives to traditional lectures and the inducements for this and barriers to it. Had the session been on that topic it would have been far more useful and interesting.