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Podcasts of University Lectures? 601

theslashdot asks: "I'm working at a major university in the US, and have been charged with posting pod-casts of class lectures on the internet. The problem is whether or not posting the videos would allow students to skip class and just download the lecture, instead. I guess the problem is trying to strike the right balance between allowing good students to take advantage of this resource, but discourage bad students from staying at home all the time and watching all the lectures right before the exam. So what methods can be used to provide these pod-casts for the students who actually attended class? In terms of when the lecture should be posted, what would be a good time-frame? Immediately after the class? 24 hours? One week? One class behind schedule?"
"In terms of trying to prevent this, here are some possible solutions I've come up with:

- Post the lecture with authentication based on the class list for those enrolled in the course, although this would not really discourage truancy.

- Post the lecture with authentication based on those who attended the class (student cards would have to be barcode-scanned at the beginning of class); this would prevent those who missed the class from downloading the lecture, but presumably they could receive a copy from a student who did attend the class. Additionally it would create a major hassle for all students to ensure that their attendance is registered.

- Post the lecture with a single password that the professor distributes to the class during the lecture. This would discourage students from missing the lecture, but likely those students missing class could simply obtain the password from another student who did attend the class."
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Podcasts of University Lectures?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:12PM (#16041277)
    If they can get the information from other places, why are you concerned if they come to class or not? As long as they are learning, your job is done.
    • What if instead of not coming to class, people stop coming to the university and instead just watch podcasts from universities across the nation? Man would that be cool.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by westlake ( 615356 )
      If they can get the information from other places, why are you concerned if they come to class or not? As long as they are learning, your job is done

      But are they learning if they are not part of the interaction between the teacher and the class?

      No questions asked, none answered.

      • by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:16PM (#16041629)
        Sure they are. If they can show they understand the concepts (via tests or assignments) they're learning. I found the vast majority of my learning was not in lecture, and with some profs lecture actively made me stupider.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)


          The number of professors I have had where it's best to just ignore what the professor says in lecture and read the book or study on your own from various sources is amazing. I had a networking professor who would seriously tell you incorrect things during class, and then the exams would contradict what he had said (and agree with the book instead). Luckily for us, we argued him out of most of the questions where he had taught incorrectly.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by JesterKnot ( 865966 )

          The answer: It depends... (Isn't that always the answer?)

          ...upon how the student learns and what the instructor is trying to teach.

          Everyone learns differently. Depending upon which study or promotion you believe there are between 3 and 36 basic learning styles []. At a minimum there is visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Since I learn visually, a podcast would be brutal for me, and most lectures are difficult, unless the instructor used visuals well. At some point I had to learn to 'translate' from some

        • by m0nstr42 ( 914269 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @11:01AM (#16044652) Homepage Journal
          Late post, probably won't get any attention, but I was asleep dammit.

          Anyways, my wife is in medical school and this is absolutely how it is done. They immediately post every single lecture as mp3 audio. No video, which makes it a little different (maybe better?). It may be a little different for undergrads, but come on, college means self-responsibility. If a student chooses not to attend lecture, it's their loss. Sometimes it can be a gain - I have absolutely known people who will skip certain profs because their presentation is so terrible that it is actually detrimental to the learning process.

      • by AlexanderDitto ( 972695 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:39PM (#16041748)
        As a college student, I can only inform you about the conditions at my university, and in the classes I've taken. Also, IANAS (I am not a statistician) but I can say that a high percentage of the professors I've had, and the professors my friends have had, don't ask questions, or encourage any interaction from the audience at all. In fact, many I have frown upon it.

        In stadium classes, for example, interaction has been deemed impractical. Most professors simply lecture, and people with questions are forced to wait until afterwards and scramble for the few moments the professor is cleaning up, or attempt to make office hours, which consist of a small hour or two hour window that usually falls during one of your other classes. In a class like this, what's the difference if the students are there or not? If they have questions, they just try to make office hours anyway.

        In smaller, but still lower level classes, interaction between the student and teacher may be encouraged by the professor, but is usually never reciprocated by the student. Most of my classes, the students just sit there silent when the teacher asks a question, and the professor is forced to answer themselves. I assume this has come about due to the abundance of unfriendly or quiet teachers, as well as the fear of getting questions wrong, or the fear of peer ridicule. Usually, I'm the only one in my classes who even speaks to the professor, let alone answer questions. Again, what's the difference? I'd rather have those quiet people at home anyway, so the teacher pays more attention to me.

        Only in the higher level, VERY small classes have I found the reverse to be true. Here, interaction is the point of the entire class. If there are only 10 people in your class, and you don't get it, comprehension has just dropped 10%. (Can you tell I'm a Math/Computer Science major?) Of course, in these classes, such a podcast doesn't make sense, but I assume it's not the sort of class the news post is asking about.

        Of course, if the professor in question is a good professor, the engaging, interactive, interesting, imaginative type who we always want as teachers but never seem to get, they shouldn't have a problem drawing people to their actual lectures anyway. People should WANT to come, and the ones that don't want to probably shouldn't be there anyway: they just sit in the back, and cause disturbances when their cell phones ring or they spill their Vente Mocha Decaf Frappichinos.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Cobralisk ( 666114 )
          Your comments are enlightening but disturbing to me on a personal level.


          Is this what the world is coming to? And yes I can tell you're a Math/CS major. You're here. But can you explain why all math profs have a heavy foreign accent, poor grammar, and bad handwriting? Attending lecture is one thing. Understanding the words is quite another. For the orignal submitter, stop trying to fight a War On Truancy, and just make sure the podcasts have GOOD audio quality. Attending class is an important par
          • by austad ( 22163 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @12:49AM (#16042107) Homepage
            How is attending class an important part of the educational process? If a student gets the assignment listed in the syllabus in on time and passes the midterms, it means he has learned the material. My last two years of college, I went to the first day of each class and only showed up to hand in homework and take tests, and I still learned a ton. Some people learn better on their own that listening to someone with a horrible foreign accent talking and writing jibberish on the board.
            • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @04:22AM (#16042898)
              In my day, we had to walk through 6ft of snow and sit on stone benches in unheated lecture theatres. We wrote with goose-quill pens and had to keep ink bottles under our clothing to stop it from freezing. We did all our calculations with tables & slide rules. Ever since calculators and ball-point pens came in, students are getting soft. Half the reason to come to university is to build the moral fibre needed to be a a leader in industry. We had to sit through lectures and so should the kids of today..... blaah, blaah blaah.

              That's basically what this all boils down to.

            • "If a student gets the assignment listed in the syllabus in on time and passes the midterms, it means he has learned the material"

              But is this a successful and complete education? On one level I understand what you're saying, and I understand the primary reason for going to university is to get a piece of paper which says you have the qualification. I take your point that 'learning the material' is probably the most important measure but heck, it's troublesome. Clearly for you "passing exams" is a significan

              • But is this a successful and complete education?

                Why shouldn't it be? I understand that learning to pass examinations and learning a subject are far from the same thing, but what has being in a particular room at a particular time got to do with anything, particularly if you can see everything you'd have seen in that room later, exactly as in the original (but with the helpful extra capability to pause or rewind)?

                Though your comment about lecturers having horrible foreign accents suggests that a littl

          • by LuYu ( 519260 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @12:55AM (#16042134) Homepage Journal
            But can you explain why all math profs have a heavy foreign accent, poor grammar, and bad handwriting? Attending lecture is one thing. Understanding the words is quite another.

            In this case, a podcast would be better. At least the student would have the chance to rewind parts of the lecture the student did not understand and review them until understood.

      • by LuYu ( 519260 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @12:47AM (#16042094) Homepage Journal
        But are they learning if they are not part of the interaction between the teacher and the class?
        No questions asked, none answered.

        My initial reaction to this story was the same as (great?) grandparent post: Why should the students attend lectures at all? In fact, I did not understand this mentality even before podcasts. There is this really old technology that deprecates lectures entirely, it is called the "book". Books are lectures you can read at any time for any reason.

        Now, if there were a discussion or a question and answer session, the student would have a reason to attend. The student could learn from the professor's vast experience, and the student could ask questions about specific things not covered in the "lecture" -- or textbook or video or podcast or whatever.

        Lectures were made obsolete in Europe by Gutenberg in 1447. Why are "teachers" still using this method in the classroom? If universities want to make money, they should do so by answering student's questions, not subjecting students to boring lectures read a hundred times over from yellowed notes.

        • "Lectures were made obsolete in Europe by Gutenberg in 1447. Why are "teachers" still using this method in the classroom?"

          So, in your opinion, reading a book is a more effective method of teaching foreign languages, for instance, than teaching foreign languages through an interactive lecture format? What about people who find it easier to learn by hearing than to learn by reading? Finally, I take it you've never taught at the university level, but how many students actually read assigned texts? (Too fe

          • by Fallingcow ( 213461 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @02:34AM (#16042517) Homepage
            I'm not the person to whom you were replying, but languages are a skill, which is a different case from many other things that you learn at university.

            Absolutely, once you understand the language that we use to talk about language (heh), reading a book is probably the best way to learn the technical parts of the language, especially grammar. That's pure knowledge.

            Being able to understand the spoken and written language quickly and easily, and to express oneself in that language in a like manner, is a skill. Practice and repitition of a skill is necessary in order to learn it, and in the case of language, this is best done with the aid of a mentor or teacher.

            Many, many things that are taught in the classroom would be learned at least as efficiently through simply reading up on the topic. It may be a bit more work, but it should yield noticably better results (you have to really understand simple calculus, for example, before you can move on to the more advanced stuff, as you won't have a teacher to use as a crutch while you're studying the harder material)

            As for students not reading assigned texts: there's a very good reason for this. It is because many professors just teach the exact same thing in lecture that the book taught, without skipping anything (or, at least, anything that will be on the test) or assuming knowledge of the material in the book. Result? Reading the book and then attending the lecture is damn boring. If you read, though, you still need to go to the lecture, because there will be a handful of things mentioned that weren't in the reading at all, and that'll be on the test.

            So, it makes no sense in this case to read the material, because it, along with all the info that's not in the book, *will be covered in the lecture anyway*. Reading the material is a good way to make the lecture even more excruciating, for no gain whatsoever.

            I'm sure that there are lots of professors who don't do this, but there are enough that do that it trains many students into this behavior. If they already had themselves trained to it, then this does nothing to break them of it (why should they start reading the book if they don't need to AND don't want to?) It doesn't excuse all cases like this, as a good number are surely pure laziness on the part of the student, but it's a BIG part of the problem.

            Worst of all, it even discourages those who would normally read the text even without a grade incentive, because the repetition of the same material (not just discussion of it, which would be good, but rote repitition) in the lecture actually acts as a disincentive.

            If your goal is to get the student to read the material, repeating it word-for-word in class is actually worse than not ever talking about it at all!
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by xsonofagunx ( 902794 )
              I've heard of professors (one that quickly comes to mind is Alexander Shulgin, because I've read his books) that would make a syllabus which said which parts of the books to read, and then not talk a bit about them during the class lecture. Instead, they would cover other things which weren't in the book, sometimes go more in depth about certain subjects which were only briefly covered in the texts, and sometimes just go off on tangents of their own which were related to the field, but wouldn't be covered i
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tfried ( 911873 )

          While I tend to agree with the general idea of your post, it's important to realize there are different types of "content" and different types of students.

          Some different types of content:

          • stuff that is readily available in well written textbooks
          • stuff that is spread out across different textbooks and scientific articles, so it is useful to summarize it in one good lecture
          • stuff that is so advanced or difficult or controversial that it seems very important to debate it and its implications
          • finally learnin
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Questions? At lecture?

        I was talking to Dr. Sadoway [] at MIT about exactly this the other day. If you raise your hand in lecture, he'll throw you out. But recitations (1 hour, 2 or 3 times a week, with a TA, in classroom-sized instead of lecture hall-sized groups) are entirely Q&A sessions. He posts videos of the lecture and doesn't care if you don't show up - there's no interaction anyway, and so many people show up that he doesn't feel the loss of students. He said one student would use the video lecture
    • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @12:20AM (#16041968)
      why are you concerned if they come to class or not?
      I can think of a few possible reasons that might go through instructors' minds:
      • It would be very difficult and/or painful to try to fully test students on every detail you'd like them to know after taking a course. So having them there in person adds two ways to build the instructor's confidence in the student's knowledge:
        • Knowing that the student is physically present and maybe even listening to the lecture/discussion makes it a little more likely that the student learns that day's course material than if the student simply played frisbee on the quad.
        • Especially in smaller classes, the instructor can gauge the student's level of knowledge based on how he handles class discussions.
      • In some classes it can be valuable to have input from many students during a class discussion. This is sometimes true in technical courses, but perhaps more often true for hippie touchy feely liberal arts courses where no one is wrong and diversity is valued.
      • by DavidinAla ( 639952 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @12:50AM (#16042111)
        Your reasons why students might want to attend class might be perfectly valid, but they have NOTHING to do with whether the podcasts should be posted immediately without regard for whether anyone shows up or not. I don't think class attendance should affect a grade in the least. If a student can pass whatever tests are given (written, oral, projects, whatever), he ought to pass. Giving credit for "class participation" is a way to artificially help students who test poorly and is always subjective.

        With that said, I think students generally learn much more by showing up in class. But that ought to be the student's decision. If he thinks he's a hotshot who doesn't need to attend class, let him try. If he fails, he has nobody to blame but himself. And in some classes that I had (the ones with nothing but straight lecture), attending class would have been a waste of time if I'd had audio of the lecture available.

        I think podcasts ought to be posted as soon as the material is available. Let the students use it (or not use it) as they see fit. They'll soon figure out what works for them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by lexDysic ( 542023 )
      The reason you want people come to class is that good (even decent) professors react to their audience. While it's not practical in a 200 person class to answer every question during lecture, I (in my calculus teaching) am constantly monitoring the faces of those who are paying any attention at all. Do I need to give another example, or can I skip through this topic quickly and spend more time on the next?

      Some could make the argument, I suppose, that since calculus doesn't change much, there should be
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      Two words: Professor egos

      Having once been in academia myself, I can tell you that MANY professors would rather you indulge their sense of self-importance than master the actual material.


  • by Anonymous Coward
    None let non-students view? That doesn't seem very useful for the rest of us.
  • Just release them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eikonoklastes ( 530797 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:15PM (#16041298) Journal
    People who are going to skip class will either way, and they'll eventually get a copy regardless of your counter measures. Why make the "good" students jump through hoops or make the job overly difficult for yourself?
    • Re:Just release them (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:27PM (#16041680)
      Depending on class size, the deterrent is already built in.

      Small Classes - If they skip, the students will not be able to ask the professor questions. A podcast is just not the same.

      Big Classes - What, then is the difference? Students can rarely ask questions or interact with the professor anyway.

      If you really need a deterrent, make attendance affect their grade slightly. Like 5-10%. Allow 3 or 4 free classes free a semester.

      If the professor/school wants attendance, you really need to build it into policy. Not encumber the technical solution with so much baggage as to make it too much hassle to use. That's counterproductive.
  • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MadUndergrad ( 950779 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:16PM (#16041302)
    I don't really see why you're worried about discouraging truancy. Most students will probably desire to attend the class anyway, if nothing else for the social aspect. MIT posts videos of all their lectures (or is trying to get to that point, I'm not sure how far they are) and I don't see them having any problems.

    Another thing, I suspect this would be beneficial to some students who, like me, are not morning people. If I have to drag my ass out the door for an 8:00 class there's a good chance I'm not going to be paying much attention to the lecture. If a student chooses to defer his viewing of the lecture to a time when he's actually awake I don't see why he shouldn't be allowed to do so.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fallingcow ( 213461 )

      Another thing, I suspect this would be beneficial to some students who, like me, are not morning people. If I have to drag my ass out the door for an 8:00 class there's a good chance I'm not going to be paying much attention to the lecture. If a student chooses to defer his viewing of the lecture to a time when he's actually awake I don't see why he shouldn't be allowed to do so.


      This would fix one of my biggest annoyances with my university: professors teaching Gen Ed-required classes that no

      • by jandrese ( 485 )
        Thing of it as life experiance. Those teachers schedule those classes early to teach you the value of not partying all night long when you have to go to work the next day. :)
        • The flexibility of schedule could become very useful, though. For example, if you have a major test at 10am, not having to get up at 7:30 (or much earlier, if you don't live on or right next to campus) could allow you to be much better rested before taking the test, improving your score. Normally, this results in missing a class, but if it's available for viewing after class -- say, at around 2pm -- then the impact may not be so severe.
        • High School was to teach us that we're going to have to get up really early, and hate it, for much of our lives. It does its job well (if I can still see goddamn Venus over the top of the school when I'm walking in to the building, for most of the school season [not just deep Winter], ten minutes before the first class starts, your starting time is set WAY, WAY too early. Bastards.)

          I've got a job. I don't need to learn about the real "working world". I would like not to be paying to wake up at 8:00AM to
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Grym ( 725290 ) * on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @12:54AM (#16042130)

      Interesting story. I had an 8:00 AM Microbiology class whose professor insisted on not only taking attendance but also having assigned seating... for a 500 person lecture class. To make sure you weren't tardy, every day he would have silly little thought questions for people in groups (determined by the seating arrangement) to solve and/or quizzes. To accomplish all this, he had a team of about 15 TAs that facilitated everything. All together, attendance accounted for 15% of your total grade.

      Suffice it to say that I'm not a morning person and have always had a knack for microbiology anyway, so I was rarely present. I would review the material the week before the exams and made A's on them all. About halfway through the semester, when I was taking my third exam--I kid you not--the professor stood over my desk the entire time, watching me take the test. I can only guess that he thought I was cheating somehow--that there could be no other way to ace his intro-level material without attending. LOL

      The more I think about it, there's a reason why the tests were so easy: because he spent half the allotted class time obsessing about attendance. In the time it took for him to orchestrate all of those quizzes and attendance rolls, we could've been covering more material. And what about the TAs? The class had to be ridiculously expensive to administer if they were paid.

      For large classes, I just don't get the point of even beginning to worry about attendance. Education should be about the knowledge gained, not gratification for the professors or some rite of passage in the form of an 8:00 AM pop quiz. Furthermore, I've seen too many mediocre students use attendance grades as a prop for their low test scores. I say post the podcasts, and if nobody shows up to class just do what any upset teacher has a right to do; make the tests harder.


  • by Aeron65432 ( 805385 ) <agiamba AT gmail DOT com> on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:16PM (#16041307) Homepage
    If a kid chooses to not attend class but still listens to all the professors lectures, why prevent him from doing so? He is learning the material, no different from attending the class.

    As long as he is learning, I see no reason why you should try and hide lectures from kids who choose to learn in a different way. (audio as opposed to sitting through class) Listening to all of them the day before an exam is no different from cramming the night before.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      exactly what i was going to say.

      there are still problems with skipping class and just listening to podcast, such as, if they have any questions about the material, both in the podcast and in the reading, they will not have the opportunity to ask them

      also, if podcasts are only online for a part of the time, there is nothing stopping students from getting podcasts from someone who has saved them all.
      • by jandrese ( 485 )
        Most of the podcasted lectures I've seen are from giant auditorium classes that discourage teacher-student interactivity in the first place. The only major loss I see is when the professor is pointing things out on a visual aid. While the student can try to keep along with posted slides, I find it fairly difficult to keep slides and audio synched up. If the student wants clarification, they'll have to do what students normally do in those auditorium classes and ask the TA.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      As a univeristy lecturer, I can say that the response of the class affects the nature of the lecture. you look for signals to see if students 'get it' and you hone your presentation to that.

      Allowing the student to observe the lecture without being observed reduces the quality of teaching and the quality of the leanring experience.

      Attendance should be compulsory as it improve the quality.
    • Attendance (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ennuiner ( 144711 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @12:40AM (#16042059) Homepage
      As a graduate student and college instructor, I would argue that one thing that students will lose from skipping the lecture is the horizontal social connections between students. Even if there's no discussion or opportunity to stop the teacher and ask questions, attending class gives students the opportunity to forge social relationships before and after class that allows them to compare notes and share experiences. Students could time-shift a lecture and discuss it later, but it seems less likely, and there's something to be said for talking when the lecture is still fresh in their minds. I also wonder how attentive students would be watching a podcast compared to sitting in a lecture hall. Sharing the same physical space demands at least the appearance of attentiveness.
  • by DesireCampbell ( 923687 ) <> on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:18PM (#16041312) Homepage
    Making anything available outside of class time enables students to skip classes. Some students will skip more classes because they know they can get the notes later, other will never miss class, still others will miss class no matter what.

    If you really want to help out good students put up these podcasts. Don't make it harder to get at because of a few bad apples, don't penalize good students because of the bad ones.

    And then, there's the bottom line for all universities. Are they still paying for the class? Then get off their fuckin' backs about showing up all the time.

    • Not to mention that you get fewer people in the lectures and give the people who want to be there more attention. I frankly don't see a bad side out of posting these online. Universities should be encouraging this. What do they care if students come to class or not? They're adults and they can choose what to do on their own. Professors would probably be for this too if it didn't mean they'd given away the chance to make some money on it. I've known professors who made you buy their books or notes, and they
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nacturation ( 646836 )
      No kidding... that was my first impression upon reading the summary. Why would any university want to babysit its students? When you're a child they take your attendance. In high school, they generally expect you to be there but don't make too huge of a fuss if you're not. And in university, you're the one paying the bills so if you choose not to take advantage of the lectures and you still learn the material enough to meet the course requirements, then why babysit your customers?

      Part of the university
  • The "Good" student will still turn up as they wish to interact with the lecturer, ask questions etc. They will download the podcast as a memory tool and use it to just "check" on anything they missed...

    The "Bad" students still WONT turn up to lectures, they never did in the first place, and they will download these pod casts, and not learn anything.

    The "other" students wont turn up to lectures, they never have, but they have never needed to, they already know the infomation and are going though the paces t
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Manchot ( 847225 )
      Have you ever considered the possibility that many of your so-called "good" students could fall into your "other" category if they wanted to? That maybe they just decided to actually get their money's worth by truly learning the material? Or, on the flip side, have you thought that maybe the "other" students are just lazy, and don't know the material as well as they think they do? That a 65% average doesn't indicate good understanding? Just wondering.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The "other" students wont turn up to lectures, they never have, but they have never needed to, they already know the infomation and are going though the paces to get a peice of paper to prove it

      im in the "other" section ... I revise from books and the internet, and so far i've had some of the best rates i've ever had (~65% instead of the 40%~ i used to get in schools.)

      I'm not sure going from 40% to 65% is a stunning recommendation of how you never need to attend lectures, because you know it all already.

  • As a graduate student who teaches a C programming course, I feel the onus on having students attend lies solely on the teacher. There are many ways including quizzes and graded in-class assignments that easily take the place of traditional attendance. My personal preference is to do things like that, with the lowest score dropped, just in case someone has to miss for whatever reason.

    And despite this seeming to be a replacement for in class instruction, students who don't attend class miss out on the ability
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I've taught at the undergraduate & graduate levels before (C/C++/Data Structures, etc). Here's some simple simple ideas
      - base a portion of the grade on attendance
      - display some information just outside of the view of the podcast (ex: most cameras are stationary and don't cover the whole room) and make sure that info is on the exam
      - weekly quizes that force them to attend
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by spectral ( 158121 )
      As a graduate student who teaches a C programming course, why do you care if the students are in the room with you?

      If they can watch you on video, they get the exact same amount out of the class that they would have if they sat passively in the room.

      If there are external methods of asking questions about things that weren't clear on the video (newsgroups, for example) that you moderate but don't even need to respond in, then they can ask questions and get just as much out of it as they would have if they we
  • by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:22PM (#16041337)
    you're getting paid to teach, not to babysit
    Provide them the information you think is necessary in whatever form, and allow them to determine how they will use it.
  • by spectral ( 158121 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:26PM (#16041362)
    If there is something to be gained by being in the class, then I'll be there. If I can get just as much out of it by not going (and face it.. bachelor's degrees at least in the US are becoming so common as to be meaningless, and the standards are lowered to accomodate this as well in most cases), then why should I have to go? Lectures are about giving out information. It's usually a one way mechanism, occasionally (and rarely) does someone ask a question during the lecture. If you want class participation, make a discussion course. Oh, but discussing integrals doesn't really make sense, does it?

    I treated college as a rubber stamp that I needed to get a job. Did I learn things? Yes. Did I do it by sitting in class? No, I did it by doing the assignments, or just learning what I needed to right before the test. I pick things up quickly and one reading of the textbook of a subject I'm interested in is good enough for me to remember where to go when I need the information again (or to classify the information so I can find it later). College isn't (and shouldn't be!) about rote memorization of stupid facts. If you're teaching me to think, then do it by challenging me (not making me sit in a lecture while you talk at me and I'm eyeing the girl two rows away). If you're trying to force me to learn something, give up hope right now -- you can't force someone to learn something when they don't want to.

    I welcome all the responses telling me that I'm an idiot or whatever, that's fine. I'm a bit full of myself with regards to how quickly I pick things up (and no, I don't remember everything -- but I will remember that there was something that I don't know the details of 100%, and will then know to look for it again to re-learn it when I need to use it). Why force me to be on the same level of the people who are also there for the rubber stamp, but are on the bottom end of the pool of applicants? I went to a school and in to a major that had a rather noticeable lack of various groups (blacks, women), and it was somewhat apparent that there were a few people in the school who got there to equalize the numbers and not because of ability. Why force me on their level? The person I'm thinking of actually asked a college level, calculus-based physics-for-engineers professor to explain how 3x = 2x + 10 became 5x = 10, x=2 (the numbers might have been different, but it was similarly simplistic).

    I was a TA in one-on-one labs, gave several lectures and presentations, etc. I continue to do so to this day, at my current job. Guess what? I don't care if the students remember what I say, that's up to them to want to do. If the people who DO care remember that the information is out there and it's accessible later, then I've done my job. If all they have is a powerpoint presentation with a couple brief sentences at the end when they want to go back to the information, then I consider my job a failure, but that's another discussion.

    Basically -- You're going to do this, some of the students will find a way around it (the smart ones), the other students will use said way around it (the lazy ones, not necessarily different from the smart ones), and you'll just piss people off. Don't.
    • by atomicstrawberry ( 955148 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:36PM (#16041426)
      The person I'm thinking of actually asked a college level, calculus-based physics-for-engineers professor to explain how 3x = 2x + 10 became 5x = 10, x=2

      I would ask that too, since it should become x = 10.
  • by poppen_fresh ( 65995 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:26PM (#16041364)
    A good way for encouraging people to come to class is to make attendence required, and record attendence at every lecture. Make it part of the grade. Then, just release the podcast when it's ready. This way the podcast is a resource, and not really connected to people's motivation to attend class or not.
  • by joeljkp ( 254783 )
    Just FYI:

    My university runs a lecture podcasting program: []

  • by Dragoon412 ( 648209 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:27PM (#16041369)
    Seriously, if the students can blow off lecture, or it's not necessary, why is that a problem?

    Take the case of a university student who does as you say, and skips lecture, downloads the podcasts, and still does well in the class. The university still gets paid. The professor still gets paid. Class size is smaller, allowing greater attention to the students who do choose to be there. The skipping student does well, and gets a good grade, and the professor has a more attentive and interested audience. Everyone wins.

    Now, take the case of the student who skips lecture, downloads the podcasts, and bombs the course. The university gets paid. The professor gets paid. Class size is smaller, allowing for greater attention for the students who are there. The skipping student does poorly, and either learns to go to lecture in the future, or gets booted out of school. Everyone wins except for the student, who only screwed himself.

    Just put up the podcasts.
  • Have quizzes in class every day, that count as much all totaled for points, if not more, of the overall grade in the class than the final. Typically, a final can't be worth more than 50% of a grade. That might vary by institution, but the reason being so it can't HURT someone's (a good student's) grade as much as it could help another's (a not so good student's). The instructor would also be an idiot for not figuring out a way to make the system work, along with the students for their grade. It's not th
  • Do what the professor asks you to do.

    It's not your job to make the class interesting or hard enough to attend. Be flexible and just post the podcasts when you get them, or when the professors ask you to.
    • Yep.

      One size does not fit all. If it's a class in conversational Portuguese, that's one thing; if it's electrical engineering, that's another. One professor of electrical engineering may encourage students to ask questions, while another is just wanting to read his canned lectures out loud for the 30th time. If the professor wants to make students attend, he can easily do it, e.g., by giving quizzes.

      Personally, I teach physics, and I have quizzes and homework that are due in the first five minutes of clas

  • "bad student?" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drDugan ( 219551 ) * on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:31PM (#16041402) Homepage
    Why are you a "bad Student" is you "staying at home all the time and watching all the lectures right before the exam"

    I watched about 40% of all my lectures at Stanford on a TV screen, time shifted from the lecture. At Stanford this practice is encouraged.

    It works better for me personally, the crowd in the classroom is often distracting, and I waste time carting my body all over campus.

    You can hear better, pause to take notes or read up on a topic in the book in the middle of the lecture when you get lost -- there are losts of positive benefits from video-based classes. Most I played back at 1.5x speed, so the voice gota bit whiny, but it was over in 40 minutes instead of an hour. What I LOVED was for topics I already know about, I could skip them.

    In my opinoion, the premise in education that people have to be forced to attend is completely detrimental to the learning environment - it harms those there who want to learn. Manditory attendance is required when there has been a removal of accountability for those who choose not to learn.

  • Just post it! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mattmacf ( 901678 ) <mattmacf@optonMO ... et minus painter> on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:32PM (#16041406) Homepage
    The problem is whether or not posting the videos would allow students to skip class and just download the lecture, instead.

    How exactly is this a problem? I can speak from experience (and anecdotal evidence == cold hard data 'round these parts) that posting lectures online is certainly not going to prevent students from going to class. Furthermore, you're going to have students that don't want to go to class regardless of having the lectures online (I'm sure you're well aware of this, especially if you've had to teach an 8am class). What I think you should realize is that students not coming to class is NOT a personal knock on you, your teaching abilities, the size of your penis, or anything else.

    Another thing that you should realize is that while some students [sarcasm]obviously[/sarcasm] have much better things to do than going to class, that doesn't mean they don't want to learn. One of my favorite classes last year was a psych class where the professor posted her powerpoint lecture notes before class. They were great to print out and bring to class (when I went) and great to print out and study from when 9am Monday morning just wasn't an option. Honestly, do you think you're benefitting the students that don't go to class by trying to withhold the lecture notes? If you're that hell-bent on having students attend, give extra points for attendance or class participation. Or *gasp* grade the students on what pertinent subject matter they actually learned. Let tests and quizzes speak for themselves. If studends can learn on their own with just the lecture notes, let them be. Some students left to their own devices can thumb through a book and listen to a class lecture at the gym and learn just as much as by attending classes. If they have questions on the material, they're perfectly capable of attending class or finding you during office hours.

    As a student, I say don't be a hardass and let students learn how they feel they should. If they don't attend and fail, it's no skin off your back. If they don't attend and pass with flying colors, let them be. Don't try to DRM your class lectures just to encourage attendance. More than anything, I think you'll just alienate the ones that don't like coming to class anyway. Don't try to get cute and just post the flippin' podcasts.

  • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:33PM (#16041412)
    Make the podcasts available, or not. Charge a premium for them, or not. But the whole point of the pod is that of time-shifting: The student CANNOT attend the lecture when it is scheduled, so he downloads the podcast and "attends" when he can. Better living through science, and all that.

    The professor is being charged with educating the student; if he, being assisted by a download and that omnipresent little white box, can succeed in accomplishing that education without a student even entering his classroom, more power to him, sez me. Of course, we all know the issue is one of ego. The prof wants to be hi-tech hip with his words downloadable daily, yet he still wants to see a full lecture hall hanging upon every word of wisdom as if they were dollops of moist angel food.

    Now, to answer your actual question. Set up a matrix of authentication codes, columns of lecture dates by rows of students. The prof hands them out at the end of each lecture, all good for a single podcast download of the lecture they just heard (WTF? But hey, that's the academic ego, I suppose...) The code is your daily password, your SS# is your UID. Of course, if you want to give both your code AND and your SS# to your truant bud, nothing stops you except the ickiness, and the fact that the code is good for only one download of that lecture.
  • A suggestion: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by graznar ( 537071 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:37PM (#16041429) Homepage
    So what methods can be used to provide these pod-casts for the students who actually attended class?

    An attendance policy? Miss class 6 times, you fail. That's the policy at my university, and it works.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by lee1026 ( 876806 )
      However, don't you think that professors have better things to do then to do roll call everyday? Besides, that may take up too much time in a large class.
    • It does not necessarily produce better results, it just makes the students attend class.

      The only motivation to force students to attend class seems to be some sort of puritanical argument or something like "We had to attend class, so why shouldn't we force the students to?".

  • If Professors make attendence part of the final grade, say 30% or more, then students will need to attend most of the classes to keep that grade from slipping.

    My biggest beef is "dumb" questions being asked during lecture, but that's mostly due to the fact that I understand the material very quickly. Half the time I fall asleep or begin working on some other thing (program assignment for that class due next week or work for another class). Having lectures really does help so that I can go back and see i
  • Video podcasts are better than audio-only, which is what Penn State is currently doing - but transcripts would be better than either of these. Audio/video lecture seems useful ONLY to students who did not attend the class. For those who attended, it'd be far more useful to have a scannable transcript where the major and difficult points could be focused on. Podcasts are just like taking your own tape recorder to class. Marginally useful, but usually just a waste of time.
  • My VB teacher posts his ASAP, usually withing 24 hours. The school-wide rule is if you miss two weeks of class in a row or like 25% or something like that overall, you're booted from the class. That filters out all the lazy slackers that don't deserve degrees or jobs because they can't even take the effort to show up.
    Also, use a lot of hand gestures and non-verbals so people will get the just of the lecture for review purposes but would still do poorly if they missed the original lecture.
    • "The school-wide rule is if you miss two weeks of class in a row or like 25% or something like that overall, you're booted from the class. That filters out all the lazy slackers that don't deserve degrees or jobs because they can't even take the effort to show up."

      huh? Do you go to high school or community college? There is absolutely no reason why a student needs to come to class and sleep through lectures just to graduate. If they can somehow ace all the tests and final without showing up a day why
  • So you've been given the task of making lectures available to students. As if you're their dictator, you're worried about some of them watching them because they couldn't make it to class for some reason, despite them having paid for the class. What's the scoop? Why are you so worried about _them_? They're paying for it, right? There will be less people in the classroom if your dreaded scenario took place, and that's normally good, right? It's their responsibility to pass, right? So why do care whether they
  • Is it about educating students or is it about putting asses in seats?

    If it's the first, just post the things. Especially useful to students with learning (and other) disabilities.

    If it's the latter, why post them? Because someone heard that podcasts were popular with kids these days?
  • They are adults. You are not their mother.
  • I think that what you should ask yourself is, what is the objective of your class and how does your teaching style work with that objective.

    It's my understanding that your objective in teaching the class is give your students the information about the class. Of course if it were that easy, we wouldn't need professors at all, and we could rely on books.

    A class professor will go beyond the text. He (or she) assumes that the students have already read the material and can then summarize the lessons as well as
  • Just use a tried and true method... take attendance. If the class is too big for that you can pass around an attendance sheet and trust your students not to sign for each other... although that might not help your situation much. Or you can just hand out small quizzes at the beginning of each class (or once a week or something) and use those to figure out who was attending or not. You can even make the quiz questions simple ones to determine if the students did the reading for last night's homework, as a
  • My university (Bond Uni in Australia) had a similar program for lectures when I was there, although it was only for the law school. Every law lecture was recorded on VCR, and the tapes placed in the library to be loaned out using the standard process. I believe it took about a week, although this was probably because of the physical meatspace component, not because of any policy.

    Law students would use these tapes to catch up on missed lectures, but they would also use them as study aids around exam time. Gr
  • I can think of several ways to do this, but none of them are easy. You are absolutely correct in the last option about if you give a password for each lecture that it will eventually slip from friends. In reality, it won't just "slip", it will probably be on a P2P network or at the very least on someone's read only network share on the university network.

    What you should be asking yourself is, will this benefit the majority of students in the class? Will it be a good resource for those who want to use to
  • One of the key aspects afforded to "good" students who attend a class in person is that one is afforded the opportunity to halt the instructor with a question in the event that they start taking off too fast for you (and presumably the rest of the class). While with a podcast, one could rewind and replay, if the line of reasoning that has been recorded in this static media is still incomprehensible, it is of less value than attendance in the first place. It's amazing what a little clarification or an altern

  • I agree with some of the other posters. Don't worry about it. The good students and bad students *always8 find ways to self select themselves. Poor students will use it as a poor study habit crutch, good students will use it to reinforce learning and improve their grade.

    Beside, what is there to prevent slackers from paying for lecture notes anyway? Even if you delay podcasts, there is no guaruntee you can force people to show up, so don't worry about it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    My university, the University of Canberra (Australia) already does this for a number of classes. Some are video taped and others are audio taped, both of which are then distributed online in the same week as the lecture. At my last university - the Australian National University - *all* of my lectures were audio taped and the tapes made available in the library the same week as the lecture.

    I don't understand why a university would demand that its students attend every lecture? Here in Australia a significan
  • They're just mp3's... they were around before the "iPod" and will be when the "iPod" fades away in the dustbin of long forgotten history. For example, [] has been around a lot longer than the "iPod" and offers a pretty good selection of university level lectures on almost any subject. Although, it's preferrable to order the dvd-video for the math and science courses. The Modern Scholar also offers "podcasts" as well, google their name it should be easy enough.
  • Man I hate university / colleges.

    The real question is this: If a bad student can watch all the lectures and do so well on an exam, what were they really teaching you in the class anyways? Did they not prove they knew it by passing the exam?

    Attendence requirements are another way of saying, "It's not really about your education". The real question should be which students are smart enough to crunch for an exam 24 hours in advance and pass.

  • by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:31PM (#16041716) Homepage Journal
    I see lots of posts about why attendance shouldn't matter as long as students are learning the material. I completely agree. BUT what most people don't know is that attendance is required for state and federal funding. Even many private schools get funding from the government. For much of the money the schools must report on general class attendance. If fewer students go to classes the university gets less money. So there actually is reason (besides the education) that schools need high classroom attendance.
  • I am glad that, unlike some administrators, you don't think that just watching a video of the class is a valid substitute for being there.

    However, I think that you will find there is not much you can do to make the bad students do the right thing. In high school they constantly attempted to force students to learn when they did not want to and they seldom had good results. I would say that you should help the good students to the best of your ability and give the bad students the best encouragement, suppor
  • Here at Diaspora U, we make everyone attend lectures not because we oppose pod casts, but because everyone must become a member of the pod caste.

    How can you give them a pod to take home if they don't physically present their host organism?

  • by heresyoftruth ( 705115 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @12:00AM (#16041858) Homepage Journal
    I am one of those good students. The last two quarters I got on the dean's list. I am also 34 years old. I prefer full access to all notes, podcasts, etc as early as possible, so I can choose to go to class or not. I pay in full for all my classes, and feel that I should be the final arbitor of whether I get anything out of actually being there.

    This whole 'keep the bad students from skipping' is a ridiculous stance in the first place. There is an obvious correlation between class attendance and overall grades in most cases. It is irritating as all get out when I get into a class where a TA or professor decides to play nanny, and take attendance, or restrict access to class material because 'students will skip'. All you're doing by restricting access is making students like me, who do go to class and do get excellent grades, jump through a massive number of irritating hoops.

    It's college, not a babysitting program. Whatever happened to personal responsibility of the student to get to class? We're all adults there.
  • Online Learning (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pele_smk ( 839310 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @12:22AM (#16041973)
    hmm...isn't this called online learning? I guess the 50,000 graduates of Phoenix Online have skipped class and didn't do work. I think you need to pay more attention to your model of learning and change from giving tests as a measure of standards and move to project based learning or some other form of measuring how much a student has learned. This is 2006, not 1970. It's time for education to change. VIVA LA EDUCATION REVOLUTION!
  • None of the above (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Morphine007 ( 207082 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @01:05AM (#16042176)

    You're working on a system to benefit the students. Your main target group is the group that actually attends most of their classes. If you provide a stripped down version to minimize the benefit to the group that is generally truant, you are minimizing the benefit to the students that attend.

    You state that you are worried about whether or not your endeavour will encourage students to become more truant and use the tools to study the night before the exam. Students who are apt to do this will do so regardless of whether or not your project ever comes to fruition. They'll also learn the hard way that their marks suffer from this, and having 200hours worth of video files to sift through in the 12-24 hours of cram time before a final will likely hurt them more than help them. The students who attended class might want to use the full footage to find something they're not too solid on. So posting the full sound/video package will likely not benefit the non-attenders, but could heavily benefit the attenders.

    As I mentioned though, non-attenders are likely to skip anyway, though you are right, their truancy might increase slightly... I highly doubt the trend would last more than a semester or two, as people will learn the hard way that attending class does, in fact, help your marks... unless of course you can't understand the prof at all. I had one who was completely unintelligible, and used only u,v and x as variables... the problem was his u's, v's and x's all looked exactly identical in his chicken-scratched blackboard-scrawls. I didn't much attend that class, and an audio/video stream likely wouldn't have helped anyway ;-)

    My suggestion: Go with the full meal deal and make it as accessible as possible. Allow it outside even (provided you guys have the bandwidth.) Prospective students will use it to see what the profs are like, which may be a good or bad thing for you? As well, non-students will be able to use it to brush up on skills. As to the poster previously who said that this last might hurt the university, I'd like to know how? These non-students would either be in a position where they will never be able to go to a university (in which case the university has lost nothing) or they would be in a position to go to a university (in which case they'll need to actually enrol in order to get a diploma) and they'll have gained a certain amount of respect for a university that makes it's courses freely available. As well, in both cases, these people would likely refer others to this university if they're learning from these audio/video files.

  • by d_jedi ( 773213 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @01:06AM (#16042178)
    Allow all to benefit from the lectures (whether students of the university or not).

    And post them immediately after the lecture takes place.. bad students are going to be bad students, and it's not your job in college to coddle them to get them to do their work. They have to take some responsibility for themselves. If you post them late (ie. a class,week,etc. behind) then you're only inconveniencing "good" students who happen to miss a class due to illness/etc. (ie. if you miss a class, the next class doesn't make a lot of sense if it built on the previous one.. )
  • by Bodrius ( 191265 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @01:08AM (#16042185) Homepage
    Why is attendance even an issue? University education is adult education: please treat your students as such.

    The ability for independent study is the one major skill universities should cultivate, and for that students should have some responsability over their own educational process. Isn't it better to encourage and enable them?

    It is not the business of a university to make students attend classes. It's business is to educate, and attendance only has merit as one among many means towards that agenda. I'd guess this obsession with attendance and pedagogic hand-holding originally came from elementary or high-school system, where the goal of the school has more to do with the loco parentis than with any real education. But it really has no place in adult education.

    A "bad student" is not going to start cramming the whole semester before the final just because the podcasts are there... they have been doing this since academic tests have existed, and if anything, video is evidently less efficient (time-wise) than the old all-nighter-with-the-books.

    Of course, some teachers try to 'solve' this problem with artificial methods: keeping the chapters that matter secret outside the lecture, changing focus and topics between periods to prevent note-trading, giving attendance weight in the academic grade, or other ways to make being able to pass a reward for being in class.

    This is just putting obstacles in the learning process of the students for the sake of solving a non-issue, taking away resources (clear notes and syllabus, lecture material, etc) for an agenda that is not their education.

    It solves nothing and makes the availability of these resources at least partially moot. Your "good" students are penalized by going through a hassle for this and losing the flexibility this could have provided. Your "bad" students get to sleep in your class (or disturb it in boredom).
    Both groups are going to study in their own ways anyway, and both should be evaluated identically based on their comprehension of the material and excercise of any applicable skills.

  • by misleb ( 129952 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @01:12AM (#16042195)
    It's a friekin' university, not high school. These are adults we're talking about. If the class is so worthless and the instructors so ineffectual that students can get what they need from a podcast, then you really need to take a hard look at the quality or your education. Try improving the quality of the class. Make it interesting. Encourage participation and maybe less people will be tempted to just download the podcast.

    Look at it this way, if enough students are "truant," those oversized lecture halls might shrink down a bit so that real learning can take place. I can only see this as a good thing. Let the lazy people stay home. Nobody wants them there anyway.

  • Don't bother (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TLouden ( 677335 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @01:23AM (#16042248)
    This is college. If a student wishes to not attend class that is THEIR choice. If they can successfully cram before the exam then this is the professors problem.

    Honestly, you should want students who miss class (there are legitimate reasons for this) the be able to get as much as possible if they are willing to put in the time.

    Why do you feel that there is value to the university in students being in the classroom? If you could successfully provide learning media which was not geographicly restricted, that seems like a good thing.

    Perhaps I could put this another way. The point of college is to learn, right? So if the student passes the exam, that should mean that they have learned enough about that subject. How they learn it is not as important. If the method really is important to you, force some freshman classes to be taken which do not have alternative resources (such as the pod cast).

Promising costs nothing, it's the delivering that kills you.