Podcasting The Classroom is Law School’s Tivo

An excellent article in the TimesOnline compares the podcasting ofuniversity lectures to time-shifting television shows like you can dowith Tivo or other digital recorders or like you can do when youdownload televisions shows from iTunes or watch videso on YouTube.

Ithink this is an apt comparison. Podcasting gives students moreoptions to integrate their learning into their busy schedules. Podcasts lets the student attend the class and re-attend the classagain and again. Some of the students who responded to our surveyabout the Legal Education Podcasting Project admitted to listening tosome podcasts several times.

Isn’t that a good thing?

The article mentions the sticking point with some faculty and universties…

"… The primary reason for not wiring up thelecture hall is the fear it will upset the traditional classroomdynamic. Podcasts will become a study aid for the truant student, goesthe thinking, and if the podcasts catch on, students will skip class enmasse and the entire learning experience will be thrown into turmoil…"

Our student survey also revealed that very few students admittedto skipping class because of the availability of the podcast. Theinstructors (who we also interviewed) reported no noticable change inattendance patterns, but it may be too early to tell.

TechnicianOnline reportsthat Professor Robert Schrag at North Carolina State University offeredhis students podcasts for $2.50 per download. One day later, theChronicle reports that he was asked to stop this service almost as soon as it was reported and discussed on Slashdot.

The students seemed happy to have the service available. I am notcertain that having to pay for the service above and beyond the cost oftuition is a great idea, however.

We had a student(link to interview with the law student) volunteer to record and postall of his instructor’s lectures and we provided him with a digitalrecorder to do so (after he got permission from the instructors, ofcourse) and I have blogged on the idea that students would probably bemore than willing to handle the small amount of work necessary tocreate and post the podcasts. With CALI providing the blog, disk spaceand bandwidth via Classcaster, there is almost no cost to law faculty who want to make their classroom lectures available to their students and others.

I was most gratified to read this quote from the TimesOnline articlequoting Sally Feldman, the Dean of Westminster University’s School forMedia, Arts and Design and chair of the university’s web group…

"… One of the reasons the podcast will become as essential as the pen and paper is because of the growing need for accountability in the classroom, she adds: "It is about time that we started being more concerned about performance in education."…"

I see accountability as the "stick" in this discussion, but it can also be a "carrot" where faculty can learn from each other’s lectures or even from listening to their own podcasts. We don’t talk much about professional development of law faculty as educators and podcasting may be a way to back into that conversation.

Comments are closed.