Currently vogue in internal university discussions involving education is the idea that the standard lecture format for a course is not the most effective means to educate students. We here at Hopkins are quite interested in understanding better how serve our entering students in the large-lecture courses we call Gateway Science courses (Our study of this issue here at Hopkins is appropriately called the Gateway Science Initiative. Also, you can read a JHU-centric white paper on this issue). I am on the Steering Committee studying this issue. There is a lot of talk about active learning, and other alternatives to inspire students who do not benefit from the simple instructor-led lectures.
I definitely agree with the idea that the classroom experience could benefit from a purposeful study of how our students acquire knowledge and an active design approach to how we teach. However, I was always a bit troubled by some of the criticism leveled at the standard lecture format. I love lecturing, feel comfortable in leading a classroom this way, and see great value in the experience.
It turns out I am not alone. Thomas Korner, a mathematician in Trinity College at Cambridge University, has written a defense of the lecture format: