Jeff on Podcasting Lectures

Jeff has posted a thoughtful perspective on our discussion of podcasting lectures, from the viewpoint of an untenured faculty member. I haven’t been in his shoes (untenured) for several decades so it’s always useful to be reminded that my perspective isn’t everyone’s. Nonetheless, Jeff makes two points I’d like to comment on:

I think part of what faculty members don’t say when they flinch back from the idea of posting their lectures (as notes, full text, or podcasts) is that they are afraid that their lectures will be revealed to be less polished, less original, less important than their published scholarship.

Fair enough, but the fact is most of our lectures are less polished, original, and important than our published scholarship. If I was planning on pursuing this course (which you’ll note, I’m not yet 🙂 ) I would choose selected class lectures to podcast , and I rather expect I would put a bit more preparation into them since they were going to be published. I wouldn’t plan on podcasting all of my course the first time out, but over time more and more of a course would become available.

However, we need to also be careful about dismissing the concerns about people not coming to class (and certainly there are ways to address that). But I’ve had a number of conversations with students who have told me (confidentially…) that if there were podcasts or lecture notes that they would come to class much less, or not at all, even if they took the hit for class participation.

I think it behooves teachers to convince their students that class attendance is worthwhile, even if the content is available in other media. I’m not suggesting this will be easy. It recalls my question earlier this summer about how much we should force students to do the right thing pedagogically and how much we should we leave to their discretion. If I began making podcast lectures available, at a minimum I would first host a class discussion on how recorded performances differed from live and what the pluses and minuses of each were.

If, in the final analysis, there is no value added to attending class over studying from a recording, perhaps we should stop offering live classes.

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