In a recent talk (Quest 2010), Alec Couros suggested that lectures be put on course websites and class time be used for coaching, which is exactly what I think. It makes so much sense especially at the graduate level where students should come to class well prepared in order to have meaningful discussions.
In his graduate seminars, Michael Power uses an interesting method. Students are first requested to do their readings and take quizzes individually. During the week, they have to meet online with their teammates to discuss the readings and try to answer any questions they might have. The team will then post any remaining questions on the course forum. Thus, they can see the other teams’ questions and try to answer them as well. Once all this personal and team work is done, students meet in the virtual classroom for their weekly class. While every student is welcome to contribute, each team has a designated spokesperson who will report to the group before group members try to collectively solve the problem through meaningful interaction. This logical progression (individual work, team work, group discussion) allows for a rich online environment where people can get/give immediate feedback.
Therefore, I seriously question the relevance of using valuable class time to lecture, watch a video, read materials, etc., as all these activities can be done anytime during the week. Now that real-time learning is more and more available, either through synchronous online classes or open education and social media, former practices just do not fit the bill anymore. As a graduate student, would you rather be engaged, have a voice, and participate actively in your online course or listen to a talking head (and likely get bored and check your email, post on Facebook, do a bit of tweeting…) during your weekly session?