Podcasting… and the new role of face to face instruction

My reply to a professor’s response to my post last night…

Thanks for your response, Dr. Hazari. It’s exciting to hear that you’re exploring podcasting!

Lectures can be podcast and archives made available to students not only from professors but also guest lecturers. This actively forces students to use the technology not only for specific disciplines such as Music but in any field.

I agree, of course. And imagine how much more powerful this becomes when students are podcasting their work, or their reactions to class sessions (since I’ll presume the cutting edge faculty won’t be delivering lectures). Elements of good PBL and good design could be integrated as well, as students work independently or in groups to record, edit, and produce quality podcasts. When I first got into it, I recorded and posted a few on my blog as well. It is a time consuming process to create something that truly takes advantage of the audio medium (as opposed to simply reading what I’ve written), but making decisions about what media to use – and how to best use various media – to get their message across will help students develop important 21st century critical skills.

On the other hand, a pessimist would argue that it gives one more reason for students to stay away from classes knowing material (in audio or video format) is available for perusal later :(

My feeling is that if this is the case, then classes need to improve or else go unattended.

I hope we do not limit students to outdated modes of learning simply because of our own biases or associations. I do not believe there is any inherent educational value to “going to class” (or not). I have learned, and not learned, in both ways. My brother, an actor and philosopher with whom I have great conversations about educational technology, uses web based training videos to learn things such as how to use new software and web programming skills, but he is very concerned with using face to face time to do things that can only be done with the high-bandwidth of face to face communication and with bodies physically in the same space. (Not surprisingly, he also believes that audiences should participate in performance art.)

I no longer think that a face to face meeting is at all appropriate for mere information transmission – I am now offended when asked to come to a meeting or class to listen to someone (or several people) speak. I expect the attendees to be tapped or asked to contribute in some creative way – and if I am not, then I expect the courtesy of an email (or other electronic communication) that I can consume, reflect on, and respond to at my own convenience.

I know this is primarily my opinion, but there you have it folks. Your students may not be able to articulate their feelings as well, but many of them feel this way. We as educators must adapt.

Incidentally, Walden, too, must adapt. The residencies are currently in a time of transition, and a time of finding a new identity. It is no longer appropriate to bring students together to simply listen to faculty. Over the past year Dr. Brigham and others have worked to make the residency experience more interactive… and to take advantage of the resources available when they bring hundreds of phd students from all over the world together in the same space! I am excited by many of the new ideas that were discussed at the Tampa residency and look forward to seeing what Walden residencies become when information transmission is handled online and people are able to create together face to face.

Of course, as video conferencing becomes increasingly affordable, the need for face to face classes to include physical and bodily components will increase. This will be interesting…