I think, in our current education system in universities, there are lots of problems, some of which are listed below, and I think we are wasting lots of time by repeating (possibly a worse version of) the same course each year. That is why, I have the following solution, and I'm curious, what flaws does this system have.


  1. For example, in some departments, some of the courses are given by the same faculty each semester/year because there is no one else to offer that lecture, or only a single faculty wants to do it. However, after some time, the way the lecturer teaches the subject becomes "sloppy"; s/he does not make enough effort to explain the topic clearly. I guess, after some time, they also get bored from teaching the subject, and they just read/write their notes.
  2. Even the lecturer makes great effort to teach the subject clearly, sometimes the way the lecture thinks does not match with the student's, which makes harder to understand what the lecturer is trying to explain. That is why, for a specific course, most of the students decision to take the course depends on who is teaching it.
  3. In a lecture, given a question, the solution is given to student without student having enough time to think on it by himself/herself; for example, you give a theorem in the lecture, and explain why it says, what are its implication etc., and then you just prove it. Another example, you just demonstrate the gyroscope in the class, and then explain them how can we analyse it. However, this kill the creativity in student, because you just show them how to think without letting them search for how they can think in such a case.
  4. In a 14 week semester, after 5th or 6th week, there is at least one midterm each week, and directly after the midterms, there is 2 week final week. I think any professor, or student is well-aware that in a week where there is a midterm (even if there is only one, which is not the case most of the time) the attention of the student are diminished toward the courses, and most of them anxious etc.

For these problems, I have the following education system, and I think it would be a great system to have in a university. However, the idea is not unique, and I do not know why it haven't been implemented before. That is why, I would like to ask what problems would arise in such an education system ?


  1. For each course in the department, there will be form a committee consisting of people working in similar areas and the department chair/advisors. Then 3 different member of the committee will be chosen, and their lectures will be recorded; of course, the content will be determined priori to the recording by the committee. Then the recordings will be revisited by the committee. Mistakes will be corrected if any etc. These 3 lectures will be used in each term for the actual classes; there will be no classical lectures, only the online recording which has been recorded only for once. Instead of lecture hours, there will be more office hours, by taking appointment individually from the instructor/TA.

By this way, each terms, the student will have to choice to follow one of the 3 lecturers online recording, which is not something we current have as students. Moreover, department can be sure that the education level given each term will be the same throughout the department. Moreover, student will have the chance to follow the lecture in the pace that they are comfortable.

  1. Since for each course, there is no lecture hours, in a single term, a department can possibly offer more courses; for first and second year course, even student assistants can help about the office hours.Moreover, for each course, there will be an online from where students can ask/answer questions, so that, you can have to answer the same basic question again and again; you can just refer to the corresponding thread as a first answer. If they don't understand again, they can come and ask.

By this way, before coming and asking a question, student have the chance to think themselves, and discuss with their friends. Moreover, by using the from, student will have the chance to answer their peer's questions, which is something most of the student don't have such a chance in the classical system.

3.There will be one a single midterm in the middle of the term and a single final exam for each course. There can be some homeworks (at most 4 in a single semester), but those questions should not be some exercises in the book; they have to have an original in most of their content.

  • This is sort of a Pandora's box. We could just as well ask, why does a course need one assigned textbook? For that matter, why do we need a book/course at all, why not just tell the students what concepts they need to know and let them learn them as they see fit? Why not have a set of standardized tests that allow people to earn degrees remotely for free? While some of these might (or might not) be a good/better idea than the current system, we are where we are. – cag51 Nov 12 '18 at 23:06
  • @cag51 Well, if you just say we are where we are., to all of the problems's of the system, I do not think after some time, most of the countries' education system will be dead. – onurcanbektas Nov 13 '18 at 5:20
  • Perhaps you are too young that thinks you could change a really big and solid system easily... BTW I don’t agree some of your points like midterms are motivation killer or similar things about exams. If your intention is really learn something you would learn it even from bad lecturers. But unfortunately at least 70 percents of UG students’ intention is to get a degree and find a job and that’s it. They don’t learn anything in classroom not because of bad lecturers but mainly because of their wrong attitudes. You probably disagree my comment but that’s what it is. – Alone Programmer Nov 13 '18 at 5:40
  • @AloneProgrammer The only thing that I disagree with is that "your intention is really learn something you would learn it even from bad lecturers"; when the lectures is bad, not the fact that s/he reaches bad that affects me negatively, it just kills my motivation, and I get bored from that subject. – onurcanbektas Nov 13 '18 at 5:51
  • 1
    @onurcanbektas - my point is more that there are a million possible things we could change, each with pros and cons. While I'm sure there exists some "complete overhaul" that would indeed be a net improvement, I just don't see the point in discussing it here -- there are those who publish on exactly this topic; our amateur speculation will not add anything. Indeed, "broad, open-ended, or primarily opinion-based" questions are considered off-topic here; I would instead focus on things that we personally are in a position to (help) implement. Peace! – cag51 Nov 13 '18 at 7:19

Sorry, but it will fail. I suspect, miserably. Your first "problem" implies the impossibility of your first "solution", in fact. But it is worse than that. I think you have the wrong idea about what education consists of. You seem to view it as "efficient information delivery and occasional testing". It isn't really about that. Wikipedia and any good library have all of the information already pretty well packaged. Testing (especially twice a term) is really only good for sorting people into grade "buckets", not for educating them.

In order to learn, a person needs to engage with the subject and reinforce that learning. Taped lectures don't really encourage engagement any more than streaming movies does. It is fine for the moment, but not for true learning. Testing does too little to encourage real reinforcement, especially if it is at such long intervals.

Instead, the current system is supposed to provide an environment in which a student can explore a subject with a professor and be individually guided when necessary. Taking away the ability to ask questions is a big issue. Making near continuous feedback both ways nearly impossible is a killer.

Your "system" would advantage a small (perhaps infinitesimally small) subset of students and disadvantage everyone else. People don't learn by seeing once. Many don't learn by "seeing" several times. It takes more. There are many learning modalities (the term of choice) but for most, the learning actually happens in doing various appropriate exercises and getting feedback on what was good and bad.

I'll note that many video courses have a terrible completion rate. Those that can stick it out to the end may learn something, or not. It is difficult to say and there is no real follow up.

While it is true that the ideal suggested above for university education isn't always met, it is still preferable to be able to have a relationship with someone who has been there before and who can guide you.

If your personal learning style is compatible with what you suggest, there is no reason that you can't actually implement it for yourself, even in the context of a course. For much of the "content" of an undergraduate education, multiple sources are available. The stated curriculum can be your guide to what is important, but you can get the "content" anywhere. Getting the skill, however, takes a lot of discipline if you don't have the goad of regular assignments, nor the feedback about how you are progressing.

As to your second suggestion, again, the courseware is available for a lot of things as long as they aren't very advanced. You can "take" a lot of courses by self study. There is no real barrier. But for advanced material, the expert may well be the only available source as the market may be too small to justify the expense of your first solution for arcane, but important, ideas.

If you want to positively change the problems you see at the start of your post, then work to improve the training of university teachers. Not all have been trained to do that and may be valued more for research than teaching. There are well known ways to improve things in the classroom. The mismatch between how the instructor teaches and how the student learns is a big one. Lecture, IMO, is a failure in many situations as it is, like video, too passive. An Active Classroom can be much more effective.

| improve this answer | |
  • I'm a double major student and in my 3rd year in both programs. Since I have started my education, I have had nearly 10 professors who come to class and just write his/her note to the board. Do you really think learning is just seeing someone explain things to you without you even having think on it ? – onurcanbektas Nov 12 '18 at 18:50
  • By the way, in my freshman year mechanics/electormagnetism courses, I did not attend a single lecture, but followed the video recording of the previous years' professor's lectures. I completed the lectures with 96.5 - 98.5 average; When you are willing to do it, I think it can be done. – onurcanbektas Nov 12 '18 at 18:51
  • 4
    Two ideas. One is that you may be an outlier on learning modalities, unlike the bulk of students, so the standard thing doesn't work for you. And no, I don't think that what you are describing is normal or should be allowed to happen. But perhaps you are at a top level (say R1) university in which only research is valued. Some places handle that well by having a separate faculty for undergraduates where the real job is teaching. But not all do. As my update states, lecture is a terrible way to teach. – Buffy Nov 12 '18 at 18:59
  • 3
    I don't deny that you have targeted some real problems. Some of them I consider to be malfeasance. But it doesn't have to be like that. – Buffy Nov 12 '18 at 19:04
  • 2
    The flexibility to be able to change a syllabus during a course is important. Perhaps you were over ambitious when you wrote the syllabus. Maybe what was taught in the pre-requisits changed last year. Maybe just by chance this years class picked some up quicker than last year's, but something else much slower. I think the ability to adapt the teaching to the class is at the heart of the point Buffy is making. – Ian Sudbery Nov 12 '18 at 22:27

Some elements of what you describe is known as "the flipped classroom", and is indeed currently fasionable with a section of the progressive education community in the UK. Instead of your extended office hours (office hours are not usually a thing in the UK), lectures are generally replace with problem solving and "activity" based classes.

It can be successful, we have a very successful catch-up math module in our department run along these lines. I even toyed at one point with running a masters exactly along these lines - basically students would be paying for one-on-one tutorials about an online MOOC.

Proponents argue that while it shouldn't be the case, most lectures actually are treated as static content delivery mediums, and in this day and age there are more efficient ways of doing this. Buffy about suggests that "the ideal suggested above for university education isn't always met", i'd go further and say that actaully its rarely met. To be fair, its hard for " a student can explore a subject with a professor and be individually guided when necessary" when there are 250 hung-over students in your class. (also note that however much you extend office hours, your not going to see 250 students indevidually, without an expensive and difficult to quality assure army of TAs).

However, my own experiments with flipped learning have shown that if you ask students to watch a video lecture before coming to an activity class, at least 50% of those that show to the class won't have watched it, and only 50% of those that should come will have shown. The rest presumably think that watching the video the day before the exam is enough to pass (hint: it isn't). Even those that come to both don't seem to take things on as well as those taught in a traditional manner. Perhaps its harder to given a video your full and undivided attension than a real life person. Of course all our lectures are videoed, and some students choose the videos over the real lecture anyway.

In thoery videos should be usable from one year to the next, and so this should cut down on the work by lectuers. However, it turns out that preparing a video class actaully takes quite a lot more time that a live class (particulalry if you have someone else review them and suggest changes), and this probably outweighs the advantage. This is important as most lectuers already work about 50% more time than they are paid for, and many are continually on the edge of failing to cope.

In the end I suspect that those lectuers who put insufficient effort into their lectuers would put in sufficient effort into their videos. A lecture can be a lively engaging, and interactive experience when given by a skilled and chaistmatic teacher, while a video given by a bored resentful researcher is going to be just as much of a turn off as the lecture is.

Finally, you'll never get departments to record three different versions of a lecture. Firstly I'm pretty much the only person in the department qualified to teach what I teach. There is one other person who could teach some of what I teach, but they already have more than enought to do, and for the rest there is no one who understands it well enought to teach it. Same goes the other way around, I don't have a good enough grasp of what most others teach to teach it myself. Secondly it would be seen as a waste of effort - when there aren't enough hours in the day already, doing something three times seems like unneccsary effort, even if you could find three people who understood the same material and could come to an agreement on which parts of it should be in a class.

| improve this answer | |
  • First of all, the recorgins will be done, and it will be used every year. So you just have to record it once for the whole department. Secondly, even if there is only a single person who could teach the subject, if this system is adapted in many universities, you could share your recording with another department where they share theirs with you, so that, you have now 2 video recording and etc. – onurcanbektas Nov 13 '18 at 5:15
  • About why will record the lectures; have you seen courses in ocw.mit.edu ? I'm not attending physics lectures in my department not anymore, I just watch them form there if there is, or just study by myself from a book. Indeed the teacher who is recording is energetic, charismatic, and puts enough effort to those lectures, it is much better than a classical lecture, because I don't have to finish each lecture in one sit. I can divide a single lecture into 5 parts, and between them, I can ask/answer to my questions. – onurcanbektas Nov 13 '18 at 5:18
  • There is quite a literature on the effects of lecture capture on student attainment and results are controversial. Some studies (e.g. Leadbeater et al, 2013, Computers & Education 61, 185) find no negative effect, or a small positive effect for particular users (e.g. dyslexics), while other studies find that lecture capture damages attainment (Edwards, M.R. & Clinton, M.E. High Educ (2018). doi.org/10.1007/s10734-018-0275-9) for most students. While I won't question their usefulness to you, you must realise that we must design courses to aid the majority. – Ian Sudbery Nov 13 '18 at 9:04

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.