Monday, July 14, 2008

Lectures On Demand?

My first follow-up to my initial post on the future of education has little to do with Web 2.0.

Instead, it goes to the issue of videotaping or podcasting our lectures and making them available to students on demand. The positive element of this is it would allow students who miss class for legitimate reasons (illness or interviewing for jobs) to review the class firsthand. It would also allow students to review lectures while they are studying for the final exam.

The negative is fairly obvious. It would also allow students who miss class for not-so legitimate reasons to have the benefit of the lecture/discussion thereby diminishing the value of being in the classroom.

My personal opinion is that I am not prepared to allow full video or audio archiving of my classes. I believe the cons outweigh the pros in this case.

However, I am considering one type of video on demand and I am interested to hear what others think of this idea. One of our colleagues, Steve Ross, brought this up in an email stating that he read a story where a liberal arts professor used this system for the class. Also, academhack, a blog on technology and teaching, recently discussed it on a post. The idea is that the professor would videotape some lecture prior to the class. Viewing that lecture would be part of the class assignment.

I think this idea might work quite well in my tax classes. I teach tax using the "problem method," that is, I teach the material by going over assigned problems rather than lecturing or discussing specific case opinions. Some students complain that they do not like the fact that I jump right into the problems for the class period, instead they would prefer some background introductory lecture. Personally, I find that type of lecture to be dull (and I believe you should be able to get it out of the assigned reading) but I certainly understand and appreciate the complaint. Lecturing beforehand and putting it online for students to view as part of their assignment solves this problem without taking away class time. It would also allow the students to review the lectures later in the semester. However, since the major (and most important) discussion will occur when we go through the problems in class, it would not diminish the importance of class attendance (the trick will be to give enough background in the lectures to help the students understand the material but not give away so much that the students can skip the reading or skip the class).

I am considering trying this for a limited period during the fall semester and then get some feedback from the students on whether it is a positive. Any thoughts or opinions out there?

1 comment:

Alison M. Kilmartin said...

Having taken tax from Professor Kahn, I think it's a great idea, as long as it is not too long. As someone who reads everything before class, sometimes it's all I can do to get everything read and every problem answered, let alone listen to a lecture. But, then again, the video lecture would be optional. It would bring clarity though, and for those who watch the video it will increase the quality of their class participation.

For those who think that the video lecture is a class substitute, well, they will find out that they are wrong.