Dr. Ian Bogost, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology (but I know him best as the creator of Cow Clicker) has an article in the Atlantic about the flipped classroom trend. The flipped classroom, where students watch the lectures as homework and complete what would have been homework during class, has gained popularity by Massively Open Online Courseware like Coursera, Udacity and Khan Academy. He states that:
Perhaps surprisingly, a flipped classroom doesn’t fundamentally alter the nature of the experience… Both MOOCs and flipped classrooms still rely on the lecture as their principal building block. In a typical classroom students listen to lectures. In a flipped classroom, students still listen to lectures — they just do so as homework, edited down into pleasurably digestible chunks. The lecture is alive and well, it’s just been turned into a sitcom.
A week later he posted that while the flipped classroom idea isn’t all that new and it’s really the seminar format with high faculty-student interaction that provides the best learning atmosphere.
However Ian fails to address this point: the “sitcom” lectures on Coursera and Udacity are recorded by some of the top professors in their field, who are also great lecturers. I’ve used Udacity to supplement lectures for some professors who, despite impressive CVs, weren’t quit as gifted lecturers.