Thursday, September 10, 2009

Do lecture capture systems promote connections?

Just returning from a presentation about a pilot in lecture capture using Echo360. In a traditional University setting, my hang-ups were:
  • if the best this is is a revision aid, that's an expensive revision aid.
  • if this would be useful for students who missed the lecture for some reason, cant they do what anyone else has ever done, get the summary or notes from a peer and do some reading around.
  • £ for £ there is an almost infinitely greater value for lifelong learning in a simple reference list at the back of an appropriate journal article than there is in a recorded lecture. This also goes for other suggested uses, like recording a summary instead of the whole lecture or recording a 'pre-reading'
  • if we are aiming at students' epistemic fluency, this only encourages them to rote learn - evidence the statistics that say the traffic sky-rockets at exam time.
  • how does a recorded lecture encourage them along the cognitive apprenticeship road to mastery in the given discipline?
  • if we want to keep ephemeral lecture speech lively, how much will knowing your every word is reified prevent you from doing things 'on the fly' that may afterwards seem unprofessional?
  • limiting the potential audience to just our students (who login to blackboard - assuming they can!) is naff and old hat.
  • what is a lecture good for anyway? If your lecture is the same every time then you probably shouldnt be giving it as a lecture. The students in a lecture have given ceded some level of pedagogic control over to you, they're giving their attention to what you have to show and say - will they do that at any other time (in competition with, for example, their chores or family/social time). I would not think anyone would want to review my lectures because they do not contain much raw 'content' - the objective is to stimulate them to think - for that limited time that they have volunteered their attention to what I have got to say...
If it was possible for students to interact by starting discussion threads at particular points in the lecture, that might have some promise in terms of promoting connections... but it isn't.
There is a clearer case for providing canned lectures to disparate distance students, but, even there, I would be feeling towards only making them available for a limited time.
Rant over.


Phillip Fayers said...

We should point new students at video lectures from places like Berkeley before they come.

I've watched quite a few of their computing lectures and they seem to be more of a conversation than a lecture. It often appears that the students are actively extracting material from the tutor through intelligent questions rather than waiting for information to be delivered.

Mike Johnson said...

You make a very important observation Phil. Putting my socio-cultural glasses on for a moment, it occurred to me that ensuring you have a good way of capturing the interaction, not just the lecture (Echo360: pretty ironically named, considering there is, we were told, not much hope of gathering voices from around the lecture theatre - i.e. I wonder what the '360' stands for...?) may help spark the unintended consequence that students feel they have to do more than "show up and soak up" if their voices are recognised and recorded. That would "promote connections" in my view. However, there may also be something in the sheer quality of Berkeley students ;-)
However, as we all know, the best bit of a conference presentation is the questions bit after the waffle has subsided.