I like lectures when they’re done right. Over the years I have watched over 100 lectures on DVD given by the Teaching Company where they select 1 out of 5000 professors to teach. The topics that I was able to cover included archaeology of the ancient world, Rome, the Early Middle Ages, great works at the Louvre, the Italian Renaissance, and more. I often watched these while eating lunch or dinner and I know these can be quite entertaining (in the academic sense) even though they’re still lectures.
For me, the qualities of the best lectures are:
- Context – sufficient background is given before getting to the “meat” of the matter
- Thematic – only a few themes are discussed in any one lecture
- Paced – ideas are presented at a pace which allows the audience to digest them
- Clarity – ideas are presented in a way that is straightforward
- Organized – this captures many of the above qualities
By the time a good lecture is done, you feel like you’ve learned something new, something useful to remember, something that you might want to review again just to make sure you understand and remember it.
Now it’s your turn. Are there any other qualities that you think should be added to this list?
Incidentally, if you’re interested in watching some history lecture online, check out this site. I can’t vouch for their quality, but I assume they’re informative (and I can only assume they are placed on the site legally).