On-campus and online lectures increase learning resources

Public lecture

Public lecture at local astronomical observatory

You want me to attend another boring lecture — and one that’s not required? Yes! On-campus lectures, guest speaker events and even online lectures are just more learning resources that your college provides. Above and beyond your scheduled curriculum, lectures from academics and local personalities offer advice, real world application of academics, scientific findings, inspiration and more so you can enhance your college major or learn about totally new school subjects. Online lectures, such as TED lectures, offer a variety of topics in exciting formats.

What students get out of guest speakers

Colleges and universities often host guest lecturers who speak on a variety of subjects such as science, business, law, politics, humanities, art, international studies and much more. Access to professionals discussing their work gives students a unique opportunity hear real stories first hand from real people.

Lectures can:

  • improve understanding of difficult subjects
  • present real world applications of a variety of academic fields
  • teach current research by professionals in the field
  • introduce new subjects you might not be familiar with
  • show you what jobs and internships are available
  • present an author of a memoir who can share with you his or her life experiences
  • inspire you to go off and learn more on your own.

Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, MI, for example, brings guest speakers into its Journalism department. Ann Byle, a journalism adjunct, said that “using these guest speakers offers her students some knowledge she doesn’t have, and they get to listen to someone other than her,” reported Becky Postema in “Guest speakers benefit students, sharing expert experience in their career fields,” March 7, 2011 at Herald.cornerstone.edu.

Who is a guest lecturer at colleges?

Lecturers and guest speakers are distinguished people from many different areas of society, including:

  • working scientists
  • college presidents and deans
  • alumni
  • CEOs and corporate directors
  • business and science association members
  • charity and foundation members
  • celebrities, entertainers and media personalities.

Lectures can be a stand-alone topic of interest or can coincide with a specific class or major at your school that a Department (engineering, humanities, etc.) has selected. Lectures tend to be free or cost a nominal fee. Students usually get a discount. To find a list of lectures, check your school’s calendar of events, alumni page and news page.

Online lectures offer information and inspiration

Online lectures offer educational opportunities as much as live speakers. San Jose State University began requiring students to watch lecture videos produced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, then the students gathered during class to discuss the material in the video. “Initial data show the method is leading to higher test scores,” reported Alisha Azevedo in “San Jose State U. Says Replacing Live Lectures With Videos Increases Test Scores,” October 17, 2012 in Wired Campus on Chronicle.com. Ping Hsu, interim dean of engineering, said: “If students feel this is a better way to learn, then that says a lot.”

TED lectures

Another popular source for informative lectures is TEDTalks. With their motto “Ideas worth spreading,” T(technology) E(entertainment) D(design) offers free knowledge and inspiration from dynamic speakers who present talks up to 18 minutes, often accompanied by videos and slides, on diverse subjects. Live or online, TEDTalks are informative, humorous, insightful and often mind blowing. TEDTalks blogs report on the most watched talks, the most inspiring, the funniest and the most “jaw-dropping.” TEDTalks are available on TEDTalks.com, hulu, iTunes, YouTube and Vimeo.

“Most of us don’t have the opportunity to attend conferences around the globe and witness the TEDTalks first hand. Thankfully, the organization uploads its presentations online, where users can stream them for free,” posted in “The Most-Watched TEDTalks: Steve Jobs, Ken Robinson And More,” by Britney Fitzgerald at HuffingtonPost.com, August 22, 2012.

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