Friday, August 26, 2011

Are Podcasts Better than Professors?

I guess that depends on the professor.
I guess that depends on the podcast.
Certainly, it depends on the student.

New Scientist reports on a study of 64 students given a lecture on visual perception. Half of the students attended a live lecture. Half of the students listened to a podcast. They were then given a test.

The results? The podcast students scored much higher. By a margin of 71% compared to 62%. Almost 10 percentage points higher.

The article also notes:

But that difference vanished among students who watched the podcast but did not take notes.Students who listened to the podcast one or more times and took notes had an average score of 77, McKinney says.

These results aren't all that surprising. If you could pause, rewind, and re-listen to a professor, you would be able to absorb more knowledge.

Furthermore, as education researcher Sugata Mitra has said, if a teacher can be replaced by a computer, he should be. That is, if all you're doing is lecturing, you can easily replicate your performance on a video or audio file. Then, why should students bother showing up on site?

However, they haven't yet invented a podcast that can replicate an interactive experience, a one-on-one session, or a group activity. (I guess that's why Skype is for.)

Lectures can be great, but given the time constraints of students and the availabiilty of podcast, mp3, and audio recording software, why not issue them to be listened to at home, in the car, while jogging, or while sitting in a home office taking notes?

This is, of course, the "flipped" model, where lectures are listened to as homework and in-class time is used for more hands-on, interactive, or one-on-one time. It is, essentially, the set-up of DMACC's web blended courses, which could feature one hour of lectures listened to or watched online and two hours of "live" collaboration, lecture follow-up, or one-on-one work.

So the real question is, when do we start recording ourselves?


  1. That was great information.

    I know that I should be recording myself while I teach. I heard that U of I is requiring professors to do so in order to meet accommodation requirements. It seems beneficial to everyone.

    But doesn't it seem tedious to record while teaching?

  2. I've only recorded while teaching a couple of times. It is tedious. It's better to record in a room like a weirdo talking to yourself. Most of the recordings I've made were for online and blended courses. Of course, you can't ask a podcast questions. That's what live sessions are for.