Donald Clark has written a post 10 reasons to dump lectures. I agree that we use lectures too often and they often done badly. But I also think good lectures are irreplaceable. (Good lectures are broken into 15-20 minute sections, have a limited number of learning obectives, plan for interaction and participation, include opportunities for recall etc.) So here's 10 reasons for using (good) lectures.
1. The lecturer can control the learning environment. Temperature, lighting, seating.
2. The learner is taken away from the distractions of the workplace. It makes it clear that their main task at this time is to learn.
3. The learner knows what to expect. They are in familiar territory and are not distracted by coming to grips with a new way of learning.
4. Learners have an opportunity to network and learn from each other.
5. Fixing a time for learning provides a focal point for getting it done and avoids prevarication.
6. Development costs can be low compared to most other methods.
7. Development time can be low compared to most other methods.
8. Delivery costs are small for small numbers of learners located close to the lecture.
9. Can combine flexibility with directed instruction. Directed instruction is good for novices (Kirschner, Sweller and Clark, 2006*). A good knowledgeable lecturer can adjust that direction to the needs of the learners.
10. It is possible to measure progress against affective objectives (albeit through subjective assessment by lecturer). A good lecturer can judge whether the learners are enthusiastic, convinced, sceptical etc in a way that is very difficult to do at reasonable cost with other media.
*Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., and Clark, R. E. (2006). "Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: an analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching". Educational Psychologist 41 (2): 75-86