Fifteen hundred years of broadcast learning

Physics lecture at OxfordForty years ago, I was one of the students in this picture (the physics lecture theatre at Oxford University). They’ve repainted the walls and replaced the seating, but the room layout has remained unchanged.

When Oxford University was founded, nine hundred years ago, this is how you were taught. And the early universities grew out of the monastic schools, established in the 5th century, where abbots and abbesses inculcated the young men and women novices.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that we have a hard time taking seriously other modes of learning. After all, we’ve been told for fifteen hundred years that sitting and listening to someone who supposedly knows more than you do is how you learn.

Image attribution: Martin Wood

5 thoughts on “Fifteen hundred years of broadcast learning

  1. Slowly we will find that there are different ways to learn different things and many ways to assimilate information. I think the quest to learn program is one of the most interesting currently. I will be watching this evolution. I like this post.

    1. Thanks Tahira for letting me know about Q2L. I wasn’t aware of this program. it looks great!

      We are both doing our bit to spread the word about different ways to learn. I’m glad you’re with me on the journey.

  2. I was fortunate to be at EdcampPhilly last Saturday, at UPenn. The rooms we were in were newer and had all the high tech bells and whistles. But other than being curved around the lecturer and a little smaller than your old lecture hall…

    Give me a bare room and let me & the students figure out what we need.

    1. Dave, I love the Edcamp model (which is basically Open Space) though, of course, I think that the Conferences That Work format works better for longer events. Moving to learning environments which don’t have a status model about how people learn (i.e. fixed seating all facing the front—and bare rooms are the most flexible and, ironically, least inexpensive of all) is a key requirement for us to be able to improve the ways we learn.

      1. Thanks. Edcamps are evolving also. My group has started meeting the night before, as I know you have done. We’re doing an EdcampSTEAM this summer that will feature much more hands on activites, inspired by the Maker movement.

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