I have also been thinking about teaching methodology. This week I had a take home exam, and I can't decide whether I want to avoid giving this type of assignment because the professor created an absurdly frustrating test that was so open-ended that it sucked up as much time as you were willing to give to it (I spend about 15 hours before giving up), or if I think the professor actually created a really valuable assignment because it was a learning experience in itself rather than simply being an exercise in regurgitating details provided to us during lecture.
In one class this week we had a guest teacher who did a great job mixing powerpoint slides with posing questions to his audience, and writing things on the board. I have typically either done a powerpoint lecture, or done an interactive activity, but seeing this professor do both was very cool. The powerpoint had images and figures that would have been too difficult to draw on the board, but it also kept the professor from going too far off track. Simultaneously he was asking us questions (how would you test for X in this case?) and using the answers pulled from the group to guide the outline of notes he was writing on the board. While I was totally bored by the topic (experiments testing genetic controls on bacterial cell division) I was very engaged in trying to pick apart his methods. Hopefully I will be able to emulate them in the future! Unfortunately this was a class and not a seminar, so I was not taking notes in my seminar notebook... I guess this exposes a flaw in my elegant organizational system. :(
The idea of teaching students to think critically and providing them with the tools to teach themselves rather than teaching them facts is one that seems like an enlightened strategy in theory, but in practice I think is very difficult to pull off. Any thoughts on this from all you educators out there?