Monday, 1 February 2016

Why lectures still work: Iggy Pop on Free Music in a capitalist society #pedagogy

In MOOC, online and mobile learning, there is a clear statement: long recorded lectures that exceed 15 min are ineffective (the timing put on 'too much' can vary depending the research, some go to 7 min). I often think about that golden rule when looking at lectures in MOOC and online learning in general. To me, there are lectures that can annoy even just a couple of seconds in, while others I watch time and time again even if they exceed 45 min. It seems to depend on the person speaking, the topic (being my interest, and how it stands to my previous knowledge, new knowledge is always welcomed in topics of interest), and my state of mind. As with all instructional designs and trainings, everything depends on context, target population and learning goal.

In pedagogy their simply is no golden rule, but then again it could be that there are a selection of core factors. Any rule needs to be tested in different contexts (a fun action to try with any rule). Just imagine I would take this idea of lecturing and ineffectiveness and act upon it in real life. So, I go to a Bill Gates/Ariana Huffington/Elon Musk event, and after 15 minutes I stand up and walk away. Or similar, I go to a concert and after merely 15 minutes I just go. Clearly, in those 15 minutes my mind had enough information, more information from those people/artists would only be ineffective. The deed is done, the mind is full... I leave. Or not?

If a lecture is really only effective in less then X min, then why do we watch movies, do we read books, do we walk in museums wandering from one work of art to the other for an hour/hours? If something is of interest, I will put in the time. Admittedly, I do need time to reflect on new information. So, when I see an interesting long lecture, I put it on pause several times to reflect on the new information. I do this for myself, by myself as I know when my mind needs a break. Sometimes I rewind it, to look again if I did not understand a particular part. I am a professional learner, I will indeed remember what is needed (or retrieve that information again, later when needed - the very effective Just-In-Time learning action). 

So when are lectures of interest? When the person speaking is a real expert. And the expertise can either be professional or personal. Simple experience in an area that is closely related to an interest, yet different from my own experience. It is my experience (prior knowledge) which motivates me, the emotion the speaker gives me (interest? Feelings of YES or NO that drive me), and new information that will add to the wisdom I seek (which is a very personal factor, I admit). 

Do I need additional interaction to make this information sink in? Sometimes yes (if I want to implement the new knowledge in my own setting), sometimes no (if the new knowledge is of philosophical interest). In the latter case, reflection is enough. I just like to think about it, put it against earlier thoughts of my own, see what I think about it. 

I fear that although there is a basis for limiting the size of lectures online, there is room for lengthy lectures as well. Limiting everything to 15 minutes - to me - would be an online and real-time myth. 

As proof, I share this 50 minute "John Peel lecture" (Iggy's first lecture it turns out to be) of Iggy Pop on Free Music in a capitalist society. I say 45, as the lecture only begins at 8 minutes into the recording. Iggy Pop, a lecture? Oh YES! He talks about life, music, intention, money, and his own journey and at times you can see his soul being moved by what he knows and how he wants to share the deepest thoughts he has... this is wisdom in a 50 minute nutshell lecture.
"If you are who you are... that is really hard to steal, and it can send you in all sorts of useful directions", so true, yet at times so difficult to stay true to oneself. Iggy does it. In this talk he also stresses the importance of education, referring to educating yourself in what you want to do. Educating yourself in the field of your passion. I like that idea a lot. Transcend the industry by having and holding on to your own identity (he points to the moment when the beatles and stones were suddenly picked up on television, turning musicians into images/identities promoted by the industry). He refers to the early days in radio, when people were wondering whether they should play the master tapes of musicians, as that would mean that music could be heard for free on the radio... so why would people then go buy that same music? Feels familiar, OER, youtube... Every system is subject to primitive hijacking (I like this phrase a lot!). And along the lecture promoting indy music labels, the fair digital deals declaration. He also wonders about thieving/streaming of art, the good things that come out of it, but also the bad things and how it affects the artists. It is important do do something, or let people feel something for the action it is (e.g. making music, painting...). Dream and be generous... Iggy eloquently portrays the clash and draw between cultural poles (capital, ethics, growth, identity). What a treat! My mind is still in awe. I will watch it again (and again), until I get it. Or simply making an analogy between his talk and how what he says connects to education.