Students using podcasting and skipping class… do better!

According to a recent study, students do better if they skip class and listen to the podcasts. The article has been discussed in the New Scientist and the New York Times, but here is a direct quote:

Results indicated that students in the podcast condition who took notes while listening to the podcast scored significantly higher than the lecture condition.

The article is not hard science. It is a single set of experiments. What I like though, is the observation made by the New Scientist that podcast lectures are good for lecturers too. On this subject, see my post Be a good teacher where I point out that the focus on delivering the content is wrong.

Reference: Dani McKinney, Jennifer L. Dycka and Elise S. Luber, iTunes University and the classroom: Can podcasts replace Professors?, Computers & Education, Volume 52, Issue 3, April 2009, Pages 617-623.

Source: iterating toward openness

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

3 thoughts on “Students using podcasting and skipping class… do better!”

  1. I’m not too surprised. The value of a live instructor is interaction. If you have a lively Socratic discussion in class, students would probably learn a lot in class but not get much out of it from a recording. But if you’re just going to be a talking head, might as well make a quality recording and let students press pause.

    (I overstate my case. Even an uninterrupted lecture can still have a subtle form of interaction, reacting to non-verbal feedback from students.)

  2. I personally don’t see the point of attending lectures without the possibility of interaction–ideally with both the lecturer and fellow attendees. For that matter, I usually prefer reading text to listening to it. I skipped a significant fraction of lectures in college.

    That said, I know many people who prefer to learn by listening to lectures–and prefer to do so live. And I do enjoy live presentations from passionate speakers–passion is something that is often diluted by other forms of communication. I never missed a lecture from the late Gian-Carlo Rota if I could help it.

    Good lectures are as much about theater as about content.

  3. It would be interesting to see how a third group did — those that went to the lecture and had access to the recording to review/reinforce what they heard.

    Thinking back to my own ugrad career, one function that attending lectures really helped with was keeping a good pace throughout the term, not letting stuff pile up .

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