A study of modes of teaching featured in New Scientist revealed an interesting result. On average, those who listened to a lecture via podcast did better in an exam compared to those who attended a classroom lecture on the same topic. It’s not so much the format as what what the students did with the podcast. That is, they were able to stop and rewind parts they didn’t quite understand the first time, and taking notes was easier as they could control the pace of the lecture. The scope of this study was limited, sure, but the researcher Dani McKinney plans to take it a step further by replicating it for a full semester.
I confess that as a student, I would frequently skip classes, especially if the professor is really bad at what he does. Some don’t even care if anyone is listening, or even sleeping (their classes seems more like PowerPoint marathons). For subjects like those, time was better spent in the library reading pertinent books. Or, if that didn’t work, I’d slip into a better professor’s class, even if it was held early in the morning (hey, you gotta do what you gotta do). Podcasts would have provided a good alternative for students with my predicament.
It was only recently that I’ve discovered online podcasts and buy essay online writing services. The article I mentioned above cited iTunes University, but I’m more familiar with video lectures from The Teaching Company. TTC college-level lectures are typically 30 minutes long, with a total of 24 lectures per subject, and sold on DVD. Several Ivy League universities like Oxford offer free vidcasts of pre-recorded classroom lectures on anything from art history to evolution.
Certainly, not all subjects will benefit from canned recorded lectures. Those that require intense back-and-forth discussion or lab experiments, for example. However, it can be a great study supplement for students, and I do hope it becomes more widespread in the future. I think it’s another step towards the popularization of long-distance learning, which may prove to be a more cost-effective option.