Taped Lectures – Better than the Real Thing?
OK, this online learning concept may now have another feather in its cap. We recently discussed the notion of video lecture series being available online, a step that could ultimately render the traditional face-to-face lecture option obsolete.
In a rather interesting development, Dani McKinney, Jennifer L. Dycka and Elise S. Lubera have released the results of a new study. In iTunes University and the Classroom: Can Podcasts Replace Professors?, the researchers take a look at student test results depending on whether the student attended a specific classroom lecture or listened to the lecture as a podcast.
The experiment was quite simple. The researchers wanted to test the effectiveness of taped lectures and contrast that with the performance of those students who attended class and heard the same lecture in person.
To determine the effectiveness, the researchers created two distinct groups. One group of undergraduate general psychology students listened to a 25-min lecture given in person by a professor using PowerPoint slides. Students were provided handouts in the form of copies of the slides to enhance note-taking. A second group of undergraduate psychology students listened to the same lecture in a podcast. They too were provided the same PowerPoint handouts.
One week after the different group sessions, students took an exam on lecture content. In what most would deem a startling development, “students in the podcast condition who took notes while listening to the podcast scored significantly higher than the lecture condition.”
Another Blow to High Cost Education?
We noted previously the potential outcome of high-caliber lecture repositories becoming available online. We quoted John Robb, who offered this simple caveat in regards to online lectures, especially if the taped version were delivered by the best in the field.
“There is no need to recreate the lecture with tens of thousands of less qualified/exceptional teachers” if there is at least one exceptional version available online.
Critics have long held onto the fact that being there and hearing the lecture in person, face-to-face, trumps any taped offering. The work of McKinney, et al, certainly undercuts that assertion.
Unfortunately, in an ironic twist for us, the folks at ScienceDirect have not caught on to the opensource education movement. To be able to read the full article regarding the study one must shell out $31.50.
So we have not been able to discern what McKinney postulates as rationale for the students listening to a podcast to perform better than those students hearing the lecture in person.
But the abstract alone confirms that as education gives careful consideration as to how best to implement technology, things change when the focus is on steps to make education more affordable. Because, if lectures and the accompanying power point slides available on iTunes produce even similar academic outcomes as traditional face-to-face lecture formats, then the enormous potential cost savings from taped online versions would in fact render the current educational model obsolete.