Making the Unmanageable Manageable

For decades, higher education scholars have waffled between lecture and, student-centered teaching methods. Which is most effective and why? Is this the rule or the exception? Is effectiveness dependent on the skill and expertise of the lecturer or not?

This recent article from MindShift posits that lecture still dominates college instruction, but that there are more effective models, incorporating opportunities for academic discourse among groups or partners for example. This is not a new idea- using interactive teaching methods in higher education. Why, then, have we not completely made the shift from lecture driven classrooms to student-centered classroom? Ask faculty and the variety of responses can be boiled down into “it’s not manageable.”
Teaching methods that work well in elementary and secondary settings are difficult to be sure, but manageable with a classroom of 25-30 students. Transferring these same techniques to a lecture hall and 150 student assignments to assess (frequent formative assessments being another pedagogical trend) becomes unmanageable.
As we design instruction for online learners, or as we incorporate an online learning space into face to face instruction, how can we use our technology to make what we know about effective teaching practice a reality in our classrooms? Technology tools, effectively employed, can provide an opportunity for faculty to incorporate the kinds of student-centered teaching and learning they know to be effective but have always found unmanageable.
What do you think? Is a student-centered college classroom a reasonable goal? What have you always wanted to do in your teaching but couldn’t because it would be too time consuming to grade or would take to much class time or would be unmanageable for some other reason? Is there a technological answer?

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