Professor In Your Pocket
Now course casting lets college students skip classes and download
lectures onto their iPods. Biology rocks! But some parents just don't
By Peg Tyre
Nov. 28, 2005 issue - When Duke University junior Eddy Leal took a
research trip to Puerto Rico recently and missed his macroeconomics
lecture, he didn't sweat it. The lecture is usually attended by about
75 students, so his professor was unlikely to notice his absence. He
didn't worry about falling behind, either. When he returned from his
trip, Leal went to a Web site specially designated for Duke students
and downloaded the lecture (which the professor had recorded and
uploaded using an iPod) onto his personal computer. In the relative
tranquillity of his dorm, Leal learned about models of government
surplus. "It isn't the same as being there," says Leal. But for the
chance to go to Puerto Rico, it was close enough.
Could ivy-covered lecture halls become as obsolete as the typewriter?
This fall, a dozen colleges across the country have introduced a
controversial new teaching tool called course casting, aimed at
supplementing—and in some cases replacing—large, impersonal lectures.
Although it has been around for less than a year, course casting has
become as popular as a keg party on homecoming weekend. Students at
Purdue University have downloaded 40,000 lectures since the start of
the semester—not bad for a school with an enrollment of 38,000.
Drexel, Stanford, Duke and American University have begun course-
casting programs, too. "So far, we've heard mostly positive feedback
about it," says Lynne O'Brien, head of Duke's Center for
Institutional Technology. But critics complain that digital lectures
delivered through earphones cut down on the vital interaction between
professors and students. And parents, who shell out tens of thousands
of dollars for tuition, aren't convinced that kids who rely on the
lectures-to-go are getting their money's worth.
[ more ... http://msnbc.msn.com/id/10117475/site/newsweek/ ]