Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Leading questions

"Providing students with supplementary course materials such as audio podcasts, enhanced podcasts, video podcasts and other forms of lecture-capture video files after a lecture is now a common occurrence in many post-secondary courses. We used an online questionnaire to ask students how helpful enhanced podcasts were for a variety of course activities and how important having access to the enhanced podcasts was in their decision to miss classes. Student responses from two courses, one introductory and one advanced, were compared. Students in the introductory Genetics course reported that having access to enhanced podcasts was “very important” in their decision to miss class more often (39%) than those in the advanced Microbiology course (20%). They also reported missing more classes than students in the advanced course. Students in both courses found the enhanced podcasts helpful for a range of learning activities. First year students who missed just a few classes and those who missed many classes both found the enhanced podcasts to be very helpful for learning activities. We argue that creating these resources is a good choice for instructors irrespective of the level of the course they teach and that the potential value of these resources, particularly for first year students, outweighs any impact that having access to supplementary enhanced podcasts of the lectures may have on class attendance."
Jane Holbrook & Christine Dupont. Making the Decision to Provide Enhanced Podcasts to Post-Secondary Science Students. JSET September 2010 1-13. DOI: 10.1007/s10956-010-9248-1

Commentary: I'm unconvinced by this. First, if you ask students "did you find our podcasts useful", they're going to say yes. Guaranteed. My own experience is that providing this sort of material had no significant effect on lecture attendence - but more importantly - if your lectures are sufficiently crap that they can be replaced with a podcast - yr doin it wrng.