Podcasts vs. Professors

Written by on March 7, 2009 in Articles of Note - 8 Comments

Contrefaçon d'un IpodA recent study published in New Scientist evaluated the effectiveness of a podcast lecture in comparison to an actual in-person class session.

The score:

Podcasts: 1, Professors: 0

Interestingly enough, students who listened to a podcast from iTunes University did substantially better on an exam than their peers who sat through a class period covering the same content. The study explains:

“Half of the students attended the class in person and received a printout of the slides from the lecture. The other 32 downloaded a podcast that included audio from the same lecture synchronised with video of the slides. These students also received a printed handout of the material…

Students who downloaded the podcast averaged a C (71 out of 100) on the test – substantially better than those who attended the lecture, who on average mustered only a D (62).”

I don’t think this experiment proves that teachers are inferior. But, it does wipe out the myth that face-to-face lecturing is the best way to learn in every situation.

Podcasts give professors the chance to polish their presentation and offer students the opportunity to re-play portions that are difficult (or sections where they zoned-out).

When it comes to the basic mastering of content, a podcast listener may have the same opportunity as a student in the actual class. Something to think about the next time you listen to lectures from top colleges like MIT.

Creative Commons License photo credit: priceminister

See Also:

Free Online Audio Classes

Free OpenCourseWare Classes

8 Comments on "Podcasts vs. Professors"

  1. Fred March 7, 2009 at 10:27 am · Reply

    Just wanted to let you know I love your site. What a great time we live in where all this information is at our fingertips. Tweeted your link, mentioned it on Facebook, and added it to my own blogroll. Great job!

  2. Jamie March 7, 2009 at 11:33 am · Reply

    Thanks for the support Fred!

  3. HarryM8421 March 7, 2009 at 2:08 pm · Reply

    Why not use both? I’ve come across at least a few sites that feature recorded lectures for free (I’m sure that’s already been mentioned on your blog somewhere before).

    This is my first comment, and I love your blog. This is exactly the sort of thing I’ve been looking for more of on the web. Looking forward to the next post.

  4. Sue London March 7, 2009 at 6:44 pm · Reply

    Hi Jamie! I also just discovered your site and think that it is awesome. I quit school in the eighth grade back in 1983 and started self-educating with what was at the local University library and what we had at home, which included a Great Books collection. If only something like your site (and, uh, the internet) had been around back then!

  5. Jamie March 7, 2009 at 10:32 pm · Reply

    Nice to meet you, Sue. I’ve meet a lot of people who are interested in self-education, but not as many who combine it with a study of the Great Books. So, I always enjoy finding like-minded people. Thanks for the shout-out on your blog.

  6. Jamie March 7, 2009 at 11:10 pm · Reply

    Thanks for your comments Harry. You’re certainly right that it’s not an either/or situation.

  7. Savant March 9, 2009 at 11:14 pm · Reply

    We all learn differently and Jamie is proving that every day with his ideas and knowledge.

  8. onparkstreet March 13, 2009 at 3:10 pm · Reply

    Were the students allowed to listen to the podcast more than once?

    Oh, drat, I suppose I’ll just have to read the article 🙂

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