Steve Dembo (via Will Richardson) observes that instructors who podcast their lectures are reporting a decrease in class attendance. This is essentially the same concern that arose when instructors began posting the powerpoint slides from their lecture notes, or even their lecture notes themselves. Both raise a more fundamental question: If students can learn the content easily from text or other media, isn’t spending scarce class time on that content a waste? My answer: yes!
What then should class time be used for? In my view it should be used as a laboratory experience to practice the content. What form this practice would take would vary depending on the discipline and the type of content. I blogged about this in an early posting on my teaching experiment.
Don’t skip the comments on Will’s posting, especially the one by Jeff Moore who notes,
I worry that colleges are not prepared to receive students who’ve been “trained” under more progressive, student-centered models. … [T]hese colleges seem content to blame secondary schools for producing sub-par students when professors discover that our graduates may not be willing to sit, all glassy-eyed, in lecture halls to bathe in professorial egotism and the propaganda of disciplinarity.
There’s a lot more in Jeff’s comment worth thinking about.