The traditional lecture method of study and learning still continues in schools and higher education in spite of all the technology that has become part of the teaching-learning process. Transmitting large volumes of useful information is the primary function of lectures. The difference from the past is that presentations, slides, audio and video resources besides internet facilities could become part of that animated lecture. A personal face to face contact is established in lectures, though the audience could be a very large group. That is certainly more encouraging than learning online or from video lessons, like watching a cinema. Doubts could be cleared in a live lecture session and also in live video lectures. Education will never really be rid of lectures!
Case study methods are taught globally!
Particularly in management studies and applying to every subject under the sun, case studies have much to teach. They refer to real life examples of situations concerning people, work, policies, and programs. Little dramas are taking place all day long on the streets, in houses and offices. Most of them are expected, but some unusual events deserve to be studied closely. These happenings teach many important lessons mainly because of the reality behind them. Imagined events like the stories children write may have a lesser impact in comparison. When it comes to managers in banking or human resources, for instance, they need to cope up with challenges all the time and often need to take immediate decisions in emergency situations. Developing the skills to face difficult situations and make urgent decisions is an important part of the training.
Research proves that several methods of learning including the interaction, and learning by doing are most effective. Experiential learning is stressed where bookish knowledge is discarded and several activities are undergone. The mind retains what is gathered through experience rather than by passive study. One complaint against lectures is the fact that it is a passive learning activity where the student is at rest and listening. In fact, some distracted students may be busy with audio and video through earphones!
Seminars and workshops, outings to industry, guest speakers, and presentations, internships too besides tests and examinations, project work and group discussions keep the students busy. A constant round of activities cumulatively results in awareness and a change in attitude and thinking. The students gradually become part of that dynamic learning and managerial culture, learning from the ambiance itself of high achievers who have left their mark on an unusual institution.
Lecture method and case study method are opposites!
As compared to the traditional mute response to lectures that appears to be stagnant to many, the case study method involves brisk debate and exchange within a class group. Both methods have their advantages though. One is a theory in lectures while case studies practically apply certain concepts and require decision making.
A well-delivered lecture with all the facilities for presentations can feed information very effectively. In spite of the wonder called the internet, students may not possess the level of knowledge that lecturers and professors have at their command. A love for learning is infused by the lecturer. The live experience holds enormous clout. The speaker could be a celebrity and the chemistry is thus felt even more. The personality of the lecturer matters so much. Study at the earliest stage in school began with a single teacher delivering classroom lessons. That intimate response continues into the adult years as the fundamental method of learning.
Case studies refer to an actual situation that presents a challenge or an opportunity concerning people and organizations. Students imagine themselves to be the manager who needs to respond to the crisis or emergency and take appropriate action. Unlike a problem that may have a single solution, case studies usually offer a number of possible actions from which to choose. A case study may be compared to the city roads where a number of routes are possible to get from point A to B. Highways present a single route.
Between lectures and case studies, which is better?
It seems to be a process of comparing oranges and apples, each with its own distinctive value. Lectures stimulate thinking. The introspective learning and outgoing personalities are expressed in these two methods respectively. Both are necessary to the learning process. Just like the body needs rest sometimes and must exercise at other times, both lectures and practical debates are two sides of the same coin.
Lecturers also hand out notes and diagrams, pictures and graphs as do case study preparations. If students have the study material on the laptops or computers, such study aids may not be necessary. Consider some examples. The damage caused by a fire in the industry could be a topic for a lecture as well as a case study where a fire suddenly breaks out. The lecture sets out all the theories about how fires are caused and how fires may be controlled. A case study requires the application of how to fight the fire and avoid damage.
Both kinds of study require a warming up with the distributed materials. Note taking would apply to both, even lectures being livened up by involved note taking. A case study could begin with the presentation of a problem situation and the notes help better understanding. Yet lectures provide no space for oral discussion, but case studies bring up arguments, often like a debate where different approaches are discussed. A stimulating lecture could be followed by a case study discussion and analysis like an application of whatever was taught in the lecture.
A variety of case studies does exist, commencing with a single page and extending to ten pages perhaps, in varying levels of complexity. Each newspaper presents a variety of problem situations with the solutions removed. Certain skills are built up in dealing with case studies, an excellent way of contemporary learning just like lectures are a classic time-honored method of study. Getting familiar with the critical facts of the case and identifying the objectives, a diagnosis is attempted after thorough analysis. An action plan is prepared to go about the process of dealing with the situation, usually with alternatives.