Law Student Survey Comments on Podcasting – THERE’S GOLD HERE!

In Spring semester of 2006, CALI conducted the first Legal Education Podcasting Project and we surveyed students at the end of the semester to their reactions. I published the tabulate-able results of the survey in this blog post. I read over the student comments in preparation for my EDUCAUSE presentation and realized that I have never published the student comments.

There is GOLD in these comments for teachers and institutions thinking about podcasting and I am providing these comments largely unedited.

In future blog posts, I will single out some comments for further discussion.

I removed a few comments that were not relevant to podcasting and also XXX’ed out any references of names or institutions.

The question text was…

"Comments, ideas, complaints or suggestions on how we can improve legal education podcasting in the future? "

Here are the student responses…

  1. I think podcasting is a good idea. It never hurts to have supplemental materials in a high pressure envirionment like law school. I had some problems with accessing the website. This was very frustrating when you needed to hear a podcast to clear up a doubt or question you may have had concerning that particular lecture.
  2. Although I did not listen to any podcasts this semester, I will probably listen to podcasts in the future because my classmates said that the podcasts were helpful for them.
  3. although this is cleary a technical/administrative issue, in classes such as mine, in which there is a lot of interplay between the professor and the students, the fact that you can only hear the professor greatly decreases the value of the podcast. If there was only a way in which the students could be heard responding to/asking questions of the professor, then I probably would have used the podcast much, much more (indeed, had this been more of a lecture class, with little student interaction, then I may very well have used the podcast more frequently).
  4. an excellent supplementary tool.
  5. As I mentioned above, podcasts on discrete topics were great. When the podcasts started to be less specific and labeled improperly they lost their usefulness.
  6. Audio for the lectures is sometimes low and difficult to hear. The best podcasts were the review for the week.
  7. Can’t hear the other students so if the teacher does not repeat what was said the Podcast is useless.
  8. Convince more law professors to use the podcasting tool. It is very valuable for students. I did not use it to skip class – I used it to reinforce my class learning and to streamline my outlining process.
  9. Develop Automated presentation where as the podcast plays, there is an optional video that protgresses through notes, etc.
  10. Each professor should be required to take a class or read a manual or something about how to make a podcast. I say this because I think that it is a shame that Professor XXX had to learn on the job. The later podcasts seem to be better than the earlier ones. I don’t know if this is because Professor XXX is just getting better at being clear and succint in his podcasts or if he finally learned how to use some editing tools. Either way, I think that it would be to the benefit of the professor and the students if the professor were given some instruction about how to do a podcast before the semester begins. In a similar vein, it might be nice if the professor were given a tutorial on how to use iTunes. The posting of podcasts to iTunes should be mandatory. I say this because it is really the best way to make sure that all the students get all of the podcasts. As soon as Professor XXX got around to doing this, I subscribed and now, when he randomly adds a podcast after the semester has ended and I have really stopped looking at the class website, I still get the new podcast. Also, there needs to be a significant improvement in the sound quality. I am not expecting THX quality digital sound, but everyone needs to be aware that poor sound quality with hisses and pops and other such nonsense really interferes with the message the professor is trying to get across. I cannot stress this enough.
  11. Each recording should be a uniform length or at least approximately the same and/or the length of the podcast should be listed on the website. Podcasts should be posted on a set day each week. I think the more recent method of naming the files is more confusing than the original method. I think it would be better just name with the topic name and the date (example: Causation 4/15).
  12. Even if I miss the class, getting notes from a colleague is still easier and a more efficient use of time.
  13. extremely helpful. I knew that if I didn’t understand a point I could go back at a later date and listen to the podcast for clarification. Because I took notes on the computer I would indicate the time slot where I felt lost and then later on go listen to the podcast and more often than not I would be able to clarify the point I was initially confused about. Wish all my classes had this available.
  14. First of all, I want to say that Professor XXX did an excellent job with the podcasts. My biggest complaint about law school in general is that students spend so much time trying to dig out the law from cases and lectures and that many professors "hide the ball" from students instead of really trying to help them learn the material. I’m not an academic, so to me this seems like an enormous waste of time. Law schools and the professors that endorse this methodology usually justify it on the basis of "weeding out" students and that students shouldn’t be "spoon-fed" the material. I think these justifications are rediculous. I’m in law school because I want to be a lawyer, and like 99% of law students, I’m motivated to read the assignments and learn the material so that I can use it in practice someday. I don’t need a professor to make me work for it – I’m already in law school to work for it. If I didn’t want to work, I’d be doing something else and saving myself $60,000. So in my opinion, professors who don’t want to make learning the law "too easy" for students are territorial, condescending, and insecure. Let me be clear, Professor XXX is NOT this type of instructor. With that being said, I think the podcast idea is a great idea and a breath of fresh air after 1 1/2 years of classes in which instructors would either refuse to summarize the material covered in class or make me feel like an 8th grader for even requesting a summary. I attended every regularly scheduled class and knowing that Professor XXX would provide a podcast summary of the class in NO WAY enticed me to skip class. I feel confident my classmates would say the same. The podcasts were a great way to review the material prior to outlining and also provided a "big picture" view of the material we covered in class and how it all fit together. In closing, I would STRONGLY encourage every instructor to podcast summaries of their weekly classes. If actually helping students learn is the goal, this is a step in the right direction. Professors who wish to continue to make learning the law more difficult than it needs to be should be reminded that their job is to TEACH.
  15. For some reason, I was sometimes unable to download podcasts off of the cali website. This very likely could be operator error (haha), but it was easier to download them from the website sometimes. I think sometimes the cali server got overloaded…not sure?
  16. Generally, I thought that podcasting weekly lectures was very helpful. I took notes and to a small extent listened to the podcasts as I was doing other things. However, I (along with all the classmates I spoke to) was unable to actually download the lectures as podcasts and make them portable. So I was only able to listen to the lectures when I was near my laptop and in a place where no one around would be bothered–a fairly limited range. I had hoped to be able to listen while going for a walk, riding the bus, etc. The class for which I am using the "podcasts" is one where no outlines are permitted, making the opportunity to listen repeatedly to a topic particularly helpful. Being able to listen to them in a broader range of areas would have helped even more. I liked having weekly podcasts. I think anything more frequent would have felt like a burden rather than a benefit. Weekly summaries also allowed for broader overviews of a topic, and connected topics that were discrete entities during class.
  18. Great Job Professor XXX!
  19. Great Job with the PodCasts. I did not listen to them during the semester, but only at the end of the semester as exam review and to double check my notes. very helpful.
  20. Great way for busy students to make value use of dead time (e.g. commuting). Please keep up the levergaging of technology to make the learning process more efficient.
  21. Hard to hear student questions during sessions that were heavy with student teacher interaction.
  22. Hard to hear students answer the questions the Prof possed. Points were missed if they were answered too far away fromt the recorder.
  23. Having the podcast is nice since in some of my other classes I have to abbreviate notes and pick and choose from what the instructor says since I cannot type the entire lecture. That being said, although I have not skipped class more often because I knew it would be podcast, I have taken poorer notes, and sometime done work for other classes while in this class.
  24. He moved around so much that it created hissing and scratching, and couldn’t hear students questions. THus, it was like listening to static and weird noises for 2 hours. So, I wouldn’t recommend it unless professors use stationary microphones!
  25. hopefully all will oneday podcast. Also why not stream video in addition?
  26. I couldn’t make the podcasts work so that I could down load them. This was frustrating and meant I listended less than I would have liked. These are great though– I’d just like more access to them!
  27. I did not listen to the podcasts because I did not miss any classes, and I had no reason otherwise to listen to the podcasts. I prefer looking at other students’ notes or being in class to listening to the class on multimedia. In the future if I have a class that is podcast, and I do miss a class, I may use it, but I am unsure.
  28. I did not use them during the semester but they have been excellent for going over my outline. I use a mac and I couldn’t get itunes to recognize the podcast. I wish I could have downloaded them to a mp3 player.
  29. I didn’t know how to get to podcast.
  30. I didn’t miss more classes b/c I knew that it was being podcasted, but if I had to miss the class b/c of other issues it allowed me to feel that I wasn’t missing anything significant b/c I could listen to the lecture later.
  31. I don’t have an Ipod or any other type of Mp3 player, so to me it was inconvenient to have to listen to it on my computer at home when I do all of my studying in the library on my laptop (which would not play the podcasts). I’m sure if I owned a player, it would have been more worthwhile.
  32. I found the podcasting very helpful, especially during the panic of finals. I appreciated the fact that I could go back to a class to clarify a point or topic at any time. I thought during class that if there was something that I was unclear about, I recalled that I could go home and listen to the entire lecture again and not waste any class time asking questions over and over again.
  33. I found the summaries more beneficial rather than classes that were podcasted–the casts were concise and an excellent reference to clarify various notes/points from class notes. All classes should be podcasted!
  34. I like it b/c I found that I missed some information had I relied on my notes w/o the podcast. Podcast definitely allowed me to understand the material better b/c I could listen in on the class session multiple times. Thanks so much Professor XXX 🙂
  35. I like the idea that I can use the podcast in the car when I would not normally be doing work. I am not sure if this is possible, but it would be nice to be able to insert your own comments into certain parts of the podcast and then save that (modified) version. Then you could have a customized version of the material, which would be very helpful in studying for exams. Other than that, I think that it is a very useful program that I would like to see continue.
  36. I like the podcast because it allows me to go back and revisit what the professor thinks is important. However, some professors will not allow students to record, so I don’t know that they would like the idea of podcasting. I find that it is really helpful and I used it frequently.
  37. I liked the podcasting in my XXX class because Professor XXX posted Weekly summaries that were very helpful in helping me in preparing for the exams.
  38. I love the podcasts they are a great tool to reinforce learning of complicated subjects.
  39. I LOVED the availability of the podcast. I felt more confident taking notes in class because I knew that if something was unclear that later on I could double check it. I actually think I listened better because I wasn’t so worried about getting everything down in my notes. Also, I had to miss a couple of classes this semester for valid reasons and it really helped me. However, knowing that the classes were podcast did not make me feel like I could just skip class. Professor XXX writes a lot of good stuff on the board so it’s preferable to attend class. I listened to the podcasts on my computer. I would have liked to have burned them onto a CD or put them on my iPod to listen to in the car or while I was jogging, but could never figure out how to do it. I think podcasting is great and I think it’s awesome that Professor XXX did this. He’s a great professor who is really committed to helping students learn so I’m not at all surprised that he was among the first to try this out. I hope more professors use podcasting in the future. it’s an incredibly valuable resource. Thanks!
  40. I loved the podcast.
  41. I simply didn’t have the time to use it.
  42. I suggest that class lectures be available as podcasts with mandatory attendance. XXX only allowed access to podcasts for few students when for what ever reason could not attend class. I would have liked to be able to listen to class lecture despite being present in class. The podcasting was only for reviews which are not a substitute for class lecture.
  43. I think it is very valuable and that more classes should offer the option. It is a great way to go back and study for exams
  44. I think it’s great technology. Inevitably, things will come up and we will be unable to attend class, so this works out great that our classes are podcasted for us. Also, at times the Professor will go through the material too quickly so I will need to go back to the podcast to fill in what I missed. It’s a great idea!
  45. I think its a great idea….but it might be better if, for a small fee, the professor made the podcasts available on CD for those students who arent as computer savvy as others
  46. I think that podcast are a great way to supplement notes. I would warn against missing class but, if used properly they are a great tool. I know that after I finished putting together my outlines, I would listen to the podcast and see if I was missing important information or to see if my outline flowed properly.
  47. I think that podcasting is a very viable option. If there are worries about attendance, I recommend that professors maintain a record of attendance with a limited number of absences. I used podcast summaries of subject matter before an exam and I used them when I missed class rather than borrowing another classmate’s notes. I found them immeasurably valuable for times when I absolutely had to miss class. I listened to them on a PC and took notes just as if I was in class.
  48. I think the podcasts are a great study tool. If the professor has an attendance policy, the podcasts do not provide an incentive to skip. I hope that other classes I take use podcasts too!
  49. I think they are good. The summaries seem to focus more on better understanding the ‘law’ which is especially helpful. I feel like in class I am playing ‘hide-n-seek’ where the law is hiding and I am seeking; but since I do not know how it looks like my ‘finding’ may be incorrect or a close resembleness but identicle.
  50. I wanted to download the podcast into my computer so I could either burn it or load it onto my ipod, but I could not find directions as to how I could do this. Did I miss it or am I just supposed to know? Thanks…maybe making instructions on this would be a help because I like to listen on my ipod but I had to listen to it on my computer and it wasn’t as convenient.
  51. I was confused about how to subscribe to the podcasts at first. I already had Itunes, but couldn’t figure out how to get the podcasts. Our IT department gave a link, but when I clicked on it, all I got was code. It wasn’t until part way through the semester I was told by someone who figured it out how to subscribe. I know it isn’t a problem that comes from your end, but IT departments need to instruct techno-challenged people like me how to subscribe.
  52. I wish the podcast was longer. They are only about 20 minute summaries currently. I’m not suggesting that the entire class is recorded or something like that, but maybe including hypotheticals and examples for different concepts that aren’t already in the book or mentioned in class. Love this idea. Listening during the time that I have available and at the places that I am studying is incredibly convenient. I love CALI in general as well. Thanks for thinking of this!:)
  53. I would just like to have more podcasts available in the future.
  54. If I had better instructions on how I could use Podcast (how to use it with an I-pod), I would use it more often. Hearing the students’ responses or having the instructor repeat what the students had said more often would be helpful.
  55. If I were more computer savvy I probably would have listened to the podcast more. I recently learned how to do this. I generally view my computer as an overpriced typewriter. with that said: I think the idea of podcasting classes is excellant!
  56. improve the malfunctions.
  57. it is very helpful to know that it’s there as a backup for filling in when one hasn’t heard every bit of a lecture. it is also good if one wants to go back to review the material of a particular lecture. all in all the availability of podcasts is a good idea.
  58. It is wonderful to be able to download the cast to my computer/ipod. I have other classes that are recorded, but it is so frustrating because you can only listen to them if you are connected to the internet (because they stream the audio). Since I don’t have internet at my home, I am forced to stay on campus just to be able to listen to the lectures if I needed to. This is great!
  59. It was hard to hear the comments of other students.
  60. Loved the podcasts!
  61. Maybe make the downloading speed faster?
  62. Maybe redundant recorders, because several times Prof. XXX equipment failed and the podcast was either cut short or nonexistent.
  63. our XXX class involves about 90% discussion and 10% lecture. I think the podcast would be useful in a lecture-heavy class. It is not as practical in a discussion oriented class because you only hear fragments of the conversation. Have a great day.
  64. Please encourage more professors to use it. The pod cast are very helpful for reviews and would cut the demand on office hours during finals.
  65. Podcast is AWESOME! I was introduced to the technology during my undergrad at UC Berkeley. There, the classes were not only podcast, but were available as movie files, so that we could watch the class. It was an INCREDIBLY beneficial tool. It is great when you miss a class, and it is also great when you need to clarify a point. The technology is simple, essentially costless (however much it costs to upload a movie or song file into a computer), and it greatly improves the learning experience.
  66. Podcasting is an absolutely great idea. Though I realize the probable detriment to attendance that would occur if entire classes were podcasted, our professor’s 15-20 min class summaries were perfect – you still had to go to class, but the podcasts were a great way of reviewing the material and clarifying things I missed.
  67. Podcasting is especially helpful in clarifying notes or going back over points not fully understood/missed.
  68. Podcasting IS VERY helpful for me. I have a terrible memory so I review the class via the podcast while I am commuting. The fact that I am answering this survey the day before the exam shows the difference the podcast makes, I know the material and I am not freaking out frantically trying to cram it all in at the last minute. The repetition made possible by the podcast pays off.
  69. Podcasts are an important tool for students who realize that every minute of the semester must be used efficiently. Also, they level the playing feild for students that have long distances to travel. I only have two coments that may be useful: First, I find the summary reviews far more useful than problem answers. Second, twenty minutes is a good time limit for a session. Longer sessions are difficult to download.
  70. Podcasts provide a great method to reinforce class material. I found them particularly helpful in reviewing for exams.
  71. Prof. XXX podcasts were a great summary of our weekly lectures and discussions. Very helpful in studying and outlining.
  72. Professor XXX rocks! She cares more about her students than perhaps any professor I have had. Her podcasts were great and so was she….but she gives HARD exams!!
  73. Screening out background noise would improve audio quality, but it was still clear enough to understand.
  74. Some of the professor’s podcosts were too lengthy. Encourage the professors to limit them to 30 minutes. Include instructions on how to download a podcast to an mp3 player for those of us who do not know how.
  75. Streamline the encoding process so professor’s are more inclined to record and podcast! Otherwise, great program for claryifying issues I missed. thanks.
  76. Summary podcasts were great. They really helped me study for tests. I did not listen to any "normal" class lectures, but I would have if I missed a class session. It would be nice to have podcasts available for missed classes. At XXX, I think Podcasts would have been helpful for Civ. Pro. (because it is complicated) and for Torts (because the Prof. talks too fast to take good notes). The IT Dept. at XXX is great – they made getting the podcasts really easy.
  77. Terrific concept I am grateful for the opportunity. It was very helpful.
  78. Thank you very much for this opportunity. I really enjoyed it.
  79. The ability to listen to a class if I can’t figure something out when I am reviewing my notes (especially during exam prep time) is really a great help. I have marked different parts of my notes during class to remind myself where to go back and listen to the discussion again and that has been a real time saver both in class (by not holding up the class) and out of class (so I don’t have to spend tons of time trying to figure out what the professor was saying exactly). The only difficulty I have found is that while I can hear the professor’s voice quite clearly, I cannot always hear the student’s questions or comments. Often, the professor will answer with the common law school answer "it depends," "what do you think," and even sometimes "yes." When going back and listening to the class, there ends up being gaps that are difficult to fill. Maybe if the classrooms could be set up with some typr of microphone aimed toward the students that could pick up that half of the discussion this problem could be solved. This is really a great help! Thank you
  80. The audio is a problem. Without a better system to capture audio, student voices are seldom heard other than muffled and garbled audio. This would not be a problem, except for EVERY case discussed there is a student participating. One half the discussion could be salient, IF the instructor repeats enough so that the Podcast audience can follow. Until this issue is resolved, I believe you have a technology application that is of minimal value.
  81. The instructor may need a better recorder. It seemed to pick up a lot of static or not work sometimes so the recordings either were not available or very hard to understand. It made me less likely to listen to them.
  82. The only problem I really heard with the podcast was that there were times that the Professor was not cognizant of the fact that we cant see the board or the books etc. she was reffering to i nthe lecture, for example there were moments in the podcast such as "…..when doing legal research you will find the answer in this book…(and not referring to it as the black IICLE book etc.) or " as you can see here on the board"…(instead of saying as you can see the research flowchart etc.) – just a little more description would have been good at times to refresh my memory of the exact book, chart, webpage etc. she was referring to in the lecture in class. Other than that I think podcasts are a great idea and I think every Professor should use them:)
  83. The podcast was terrifically helpful for situations when I had to miss class for school-related activities.
  84. The podcasts are great. I want them for all my classes. They really help when I didn’t quite get what the prof was saying. Please encourage other profs to use them here at Pepperdine!!
  85. The podcasts were extremely helpful in clarifying any points that were difficult in class. If there were a couple of hypos or something that may be useful for an exam, it might encourage more students to listen to this allready valuable resource for studying.
  86. The podcasts were very helpful – particularly in conjunction with the CALI tutorial on Administrative Law. More than merely summarizing the material we covered for the week in class, the podcasts helped me to see the "big picture" and therefore clarified the broader concepts in the course. I think it is particularly important in learning Administrative law to keep this perspective since the details and procedures required in given circumstances can be confusing. My learning style is both visual and auditory, so having access to the material in different formats was a huge benefit for me. Going into the final exam, I felt that I had a strong grasp on the subject matter and understood the concepts more thoroughly than any course I have taken in law school so far. I’m certain that my grasp of the material was a direct result of having the material presented in different formats. My only suggestion is to keep focusing the podcasts on the larger picture/broader concepts since daily classes tend to focus on the details.
  87. The quality needs to improve and then it will be perfect. It’s better than the generic CDs or tapes on the subject, because it is straight from your professor. It is very helpful.
  88. The sound quality on the podcasts is terrible, and it is difficult to understand what is being said. Although the fact that the class was podcast made me less likely to go to class because I knew I would at least be able to get the gist of the class from the podcast.
  89. the technology is useful, some kinks need to be ironed out, such as sound quality.
  90. The value of listening to a class is limited to (1) clarify a point, (2) listen if you missed class. There is no substitute for attending the class; in fact, the recording of the class provides very limited value, since you cannot hear the students’ questions and answers well enough. I have found an instructor’s specific solo-recording of a topic, however, is of great value. There are a number of schools and organizations providing podcasts on specific topics; effectively a poor-man’s Sum & Substance CD audio. I have found these of great value; sometimes because they point out or clarify items of value, other times as a great way to passively reinforce information, helping to internalize concepts.
  91. there’s a long delay btwn class and when the podcast is available, when i do miss a class and use the podcast to catch up, that presents a problem bc i don’t get to listen to the missed class until days and more classes have passed, so speedier turnaround would make them much more effective.
  92. These podcasts made a great review for final exams. You have a printed version to read along with. The podcast material is concise and allows you to get your arms around the whole course in one span of a few hours. Great idea!!
  93. These worked well for since I often have a hard time concentrating in such a large class… it was nice for exam review and expecially to be able to study while doing something else at home.
  94. they were great- especially the reviews after each section. especially helpful for the any days missed or if the lecture or material was difficult it was nice to be able to go back and review the material. also super helpful for finals and being able to go back and get the wording the professor used and the main points she pointed out to watch for in each doctrine.
  95. This is a great tool. It would be especially useul if the entire lecture were available. THere are some points that are clarified in the dialogue which develops during class. AS far as providing a capsule of the covered material, however, this is awesome. I wish all my instructors used it. I especially wish my 1st year instructors had used it!!! Thanks.
  96. This is an excellent addition to legal education. I realize most law professors will not see it as such for several years down the road. But, for my learning style and schedule the podcast was an exceptional aid to the professors lectures.
  97. This is one of the best resources I have had access to while in law school thus far. Although it is helpful to get notes from classmates if I need to miss class or need clarity on a particular point, I find it much more helpful to listen to the podcast and take notes, that way I get the benefit of the lecture even if ill, or unable to attend class. It eliminates a lot of the pressure of feeling that I may have missed something, or do not understand a point, or took insuffient notes. I hope more professors in the future podcast their classes.
  98. This is the first time I had a podcast for a class, and it was really a great tool. I am appreciative of both CALI and Prof. XXX for agreeing to do this. If one of CALI’s goals is to get students to listen to other professors podcasts (from other schools), they should be organized according to subject matter the way that the CALI lessons are on the homepage.
  99. TRANSCRIPTS of podcasts would be very useful. I learn much better by reading something than listening to it. I used the software ‘Dragon Naturally Speaking’ to transcribe the podcasts, but had very poor results with it. Even then, however, a few written lines worked wonders for my concentration. I was able to listen to the podcasts as I was reading the words and concentrate on the subject – even when I had to supplement with mental notes for what the software missed. Before that phase I had tried listening to podcasts on the ipod while walking my daily mile (pretend to exercise), or through the car radio (ipod) while driving to and from work & school, but I was not ‘getting’ it. At least not at the level I did when I had the written words in front of me. All in all, I would much rather have THAT level – the podcast level – of instruction in class, during the time that I dedicate to this particular activity: school/learning. THAT level = the podcasts were VERY GOOD and both my opinion of the class and my understanding of the subject would have been much higher had the class lectures been as good as the podcasts. This class is one particular case where someone should say clearly and loudly ‘screw the Socratic method, it doesn’t work’ and go forth with podcast-level lectures IN CLASS. — Podcasts for the class were a very good excuse to buy ipods and paraphernalia for them, however! 🙂 (great speaker system for the whole house to listen to the podcast from the ipod! – never actually used for the podcast, but purchased, never-the-less. Thanks for the justification of the expense)
  100. Very helpful…great for clarification.
  101. was a little hard to hear on some — but other than that — GREAT
  102. While I did not listen to the pod casts I loved the idea that I could listen if I wanted to.
  103. While I did not miss any classes, I think it is a very useful tool. In the event a student misses a class, listening to the professor first-hand is much better than getting notes from another student. As I prepare for finals, I may use podcast to seek clarification on various points.
  104. Would like be able to see as well as hear the class

Comments are closed.