• Academic Technology

The Evolution of the 60-minute Lecture: In Conversation with Dartmouth College and Virginia Western Community College

Professors are evolving the way they teach and how they use technology to make learning more engaging, flexible, and effective. In our latest Community Talks webinar, Adam Nemeroff, Assistant Director of the Learning Lab at Dartmouth College, and Joe Bear, Head Media Geek at Virginia Western Community College, explore how the 60-minute lecture has evolved as instructors tap into new technology and tools to deepen engagement and improve learning outcomes.



From “sage on a stage” to “guide on the side”

As schools introduce new technology, the traditional 60-minute lecture is no longer the only option. Classrooms aren’t limited to lectures alone, and more interactive and collaborative activities are taking place. “It’s really shifted from that ‘sage on a stage’ [model]…[to] being that ‘guide on the side,’” says Nemeroff.

Bear agrees that technology has removed the boundaries of place and time, eliminating a reliance on the 60-minute lecture. “The question gets harder and harder to answer: Where is that stage we’re talking about?… When is class?” he says. He points out that the stage can be the brick-and-mortar classroom but it can also be in the cloud or on a student’s mobile device when they’re on the go. Class can take place during its scheduled time or whenever a student is ready and able to learn through on-demand supplemental materials like videos, text, and podcasts.

Greater Accessibility Through Universal Design

Nemeroff sees a shift toward student-centered learning and greater accessibility. Many instructors are considering universal design – the idea that creating experiences that are accessible to people with a range of abilities results in better experiences for all.

With new technology and the evolving role of the instructor, faculty have opportunities to present content in unique ways, offering different options for accessing, learning, and reviewing educational materials. Nemeroff sees faculty becoming more strategic in how they’re using media for instructional material, classroom engagement, and assessments.

“People are thinking about momentary opportunities to shift their approach based on what the technology affords,” he says. He points out how it’s easier to produce video content with features like a web-based editor, comment and discussion tools, and captioning. “All of those make it really easy to create media that works well for students and their learning experience. And I think a lot of people are investing more in that.”

At Virginia Western, Bear gives instructors a variety of options for delivering content – for example, sharing to multiple devices wirelessly so that students can pull up a presentation on their own devices, capture the screen, and annotate a slide. This also allows visually impaired students to hold their device closer for a better view or for those who need more time to digest the information to review it at their own pace.

Students’ expectations are rapidly changing, too. They expect more timely, personalized, and adaptive content that’s accessible on the go and that meets their unique learning styles and needs. With the popularity of YouTube and TikTok, students also expect instructors to produce engaging, curated video content. “Our students are very smart when it comes to content creation,” Bear says. “They’re looking for their instructors to step up their ball game.”


To listen to the full discussion, view the Community Talk: How the 60-minute Lecture is Evolving.