Can podcasts replace the professor?
This study compared the test results of students who listened to a lecture in class with students who listened to a podcast of the lecture. Both groups had access to a PowerPoint presentation used by the lecturer. The mean test score of those listening to the podcast were higher. The researchers attribute this to the students’ ability to pause and replay. Also, students who took notes while listening to the podcasts scored significantly higher than their in-class counter-parts.
Does this mean we can replace professors or eliminate face-to-face lectures? No, the study only provides evidence that students may learn declaritive content better when they have the ability to control playback. It doesn’t account for the student-to-professor or student-to-student interaction that may take place during a face-to-face lecture.
The study does help justify the hard work of professors like Ben McFarland who record lectures and make them available to students on Seattle Pacific University’s iTunes U site. Podcasting is a lot of work. Therefore, if we truly believe students benefit from podcasts we need to find ways to make podcasting easier to do. SPU is now using Camtasia Relay to make content-casting easier. Professors can record both audio and what is on the computer display with only a few clicks. Profiles are then used to determine where the content is posted after the lecture is completed.