Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Podcasts Yes. Professors No.

iTunes University and the Classroom: Can Podcasts Replace Professors? Maureen Dowdy had an interesting article in yesterday's AJC about this study by the State University of New York. According to Dowdy the study "found that students who downloaded a podcast lecture and took notes earned much higher test scores on the material than peers who attended a traditional lecture".

Half the students in the study were given the traditional lecture, half were given the same lecture via podcast with no specific instructions about how to use the podcasts to study. When debriefing it was found that the students listened, took notes, and then 'listened to it multiple times'.

As a learning specialist and CRISS trainer, this comes as no surprise to me. Study after study shows that repetition is one of the key elements of learning. A "12 minute review" of notes several times a day has proven effective in studies. Breaking study material into small chunks and rehearsing it a little at a time increases retention. And on and on it goes.

The teacher, the professor, is still the most important element in the classroom. They set the tone, manage the environment, use a variety of teaching and learning strategies, and attend special needs.

So what does all this mean to you, a student or a parent of a student who might be struggling? Very simply, review the material a little at a time over and over again. Plain old fashioned practice does the job. A podcast does not a teacher make.

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