Saturday, February 28, 2009

Study Gives Proponents of Virtual Classrooms a Boost

This is a great article covering the idea that podcasts may be better that in person lectures for college students. I must admit that it makes some very compelling points that I agree with. This is especially true after downloading a number of great lectures to my iPhone from iTunes university.

Review the article and let me know what you think.

Jim :-)


Ted Nellen said...

I agree that the ipod would be very useful, especially for those students who missed class or needed to hear it again. The ipod is static in that respect. Also if the teacher does the class more than once, the consistency becomes obvious. Consider the poor class that gets that teacher who has taught that class three or four times in the day.

What I found most illuminating was the negative response especially the continued misguided concept of seat time. Also with the podcast like any other media, the teacher can stop it to discuss certain matters. The teacher can augment the podcast with links to those elements that enhance the podcast. The versatility for differentiated instruction derived from the podcast are encouraging and obvious.

Another interesting article along these lines can be found on eSchool news about a Panel discussing the Rethinking of School sponsored by Cisco. It complements this one.

Jim Forde said...

Hi Ted,

This is an excellent posting. i liked the way in which it suggested that the student can learn in the way that best suits them. (time/comfort level etc.)

I am concerned about the lack of a social element to the learning as it relates to podcasts. Part of what zI recall as an undergrad was the warmth of being in the presence of a great professor and being with my friends who shared my passion for Biology. I know in a couple of cases that substituting one experience for the other would have not been the same experience for me.

I will say though, that having a podcasts that I could go back to to review or re-hear something would have been incredibly useful to me. Also, deepening the lecture with follow up links etc. would have enriched the experience.

I try to do that with my 7th graders through my class blog at as we cover topics in life science.

All the best!

Jim :-)

Ted Nellen said...

I hear you on the "social" aspect, Jim. For us, we tend to romanticize the "social." We tend to prefer the tactile experience of holding a print book, magazine, newspaper, text book, in spite of the cost in money and to the environment. I also have to consider who can afford these print versions of information let alone access. I truly believe that access to information is more important than access to print for nostalgic reasons.

What is social to us, isn't necessarily social to the generations behind us. Consider the growth of MySpace, Facebook, and online gaming via Xbox and other toys.

Yes, I am reminded by James Garfield: "The ideal college is Mark Hopkins (Pres of Williams College) on one end of a log and a student on the other." Talk about romantic. I love it.

But now as the world is more Flat and we are accessing information from sources beyond our physical reach, the word "social" is taking on a whole new meaning and application.

I appreciate the love and need for actual physical contact, but we can also agree that being virtual assists us in gaining much needed knowledge. Consider this very communication. We have known each other for years, and yet we have never met. With tools like Google Earth, I know I can now plan a trip to a place I have never been, will assist me in making that visit all the more profitable.

And as for "social" I'm reminded about how people react during our Thanksgiving Holiday.

Maybe it is a brave new world as Miranda stated many centuries ago and that sentiment keeps being repeated as we evolve.


Jim Forde said...

Hey Ted!

Yet again...another wondeful post! Things are looking up at edtechNOT these days! :-)

I agree with you that the tools that exist, like facebook, (which has become a recent obsession of mine due to some wonderful old friends) and newer ones yet to be imagined will connect people in wonderful ways. My kids are avid iChat users and I am SMSing more and more. Don't even get me started on the Wii and the fun my 11 year old duaghter and I have with Mario Cart. We take on the world via our WIFI network several times a week.

I am also currently reading Hot, Flat and Crowded and hear you on the "flat world". I am warmed by the One Laptop initiative and am a Kiva user. I do get it...and the implications of this concept is we don't wakr up to this reality.

Here is one concern I have. Is it possible that there may come a time in the future when those with resources will be able to get the traditional education that most imagine while those without will be relegated to only an on-line experience? (This of course may falsely assume that one is better than the other in the future.)

Here is why I am concerned. I have students who are 11 years old who benefit from my personal relationship with them. I'm pretty sure that they perform better in my class due to our connection. If I gave them the best digital tools available and access to the web for free and pod casts of my class and access to my blog...would they perform well? Would they do it at all? What literacy skills, home environment and independent motivation would have to be in place in order for this to work as well as what they are currently experiencing in my class? Would this situations doom some of my kids to failure? I don't know. I want to envision and believe in that future space but the kids I look at each day, who represent extremes in resource availability, seem to keep planting my feet back on the ground.

Have at me! :-) Thanks Ted.

JIm :-)

Power Learning 21 said...

Podcast are indeed better than that of the classic classroom scenario but videos are better than podcast.

Character Education said...

I think Podcast is the very unique and best way for teaching. I am also implementing this on my students. i have tried videos also but its not that but result oriented.

Allen Forsyth said...


I know of a few teachers associated with VHS (Virtual High Schools) through my UConn course discussions. I brought it up a few weeks back and there was support for the posting.

Meantime - check this out...

Will it be a a growing trend? I think that they need to lose the word "virtual" from any correspondence first.

Kevin said...

I really enjoyed this post - a provocative idea. Students today ironically may have more discipline when it comes to listening to a podcast then sitting in class, multi-tasking and checking out their classmates. Thanks for alerting me to Finding Dulcinea, it looks like a great resource for education news and analysis, among other things.

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Mary Homans said...

As a current student I feel podcasts are a great tool that allow students to learn in their own way or place. I really like that I am able to replay a lecture. I also often setup subtitling to help with comprehension. It is a great tool, but nothing should replace "live" teacher student time completely, but as a resource I think it is great.

Ken Kester said...

This is a good article. A little one sided but presents great evidence that podcast lessons are useful to students. I am assuming that this study was done by observing college students. I am wondering how this technology would translate over to high school or middle school classes?

The only problem I see with podcast lessons is the ability for question and answer sessions at the time of learning. I know that the teacher could set-up a discussion board but what if the student was watching in the middle of the night and needed the answer immediately?

I also agree with Jim Forde's post about the lack of social engagement that a classroom can provide. A possible solution might be video conference classes. Just a thought.

online colleges said...

"The study’s findings suggested that students were able to pause and repeat sections of the lecture they found difficult or confusing, allowing them to take better notes."

I think this is one of the strongest arguments. Often times I have re-read something in a book, magazine, or article to make sure I fully understand the concept. Having the ability to replay your teacher's lecture allows the same great feature.

nisha said...

Interesting article. You make some good points. Thank you again.