Podcast Lectures: Better Than the Real Deal?

Here's an interesting factoid reported by The New Scientist... A study coming out of The State University of New York "measured the performance of 64 students, half of whom watched a lecture via podcast and the other half who attended the live lecture. Students who used the podcast averaged a 71 out of 100 on the follow-up test whereas those who actually went to the lecture averaged a 62."  What explains the difference? According to the head researcher, Dani McKinney, it comes down to this: "If the [students] listened to the podcast just one time, they didn't do any better than the people who came to the lecture. However, the people who treated it like a live lecture, and took notes or replayed certain sections... they did significantly better." Or, to put things a little differently, "It's no different than when students used to tape record lectures.... If something was presented too fast for them to take down, they could replay that section and complete their notes." The bottom line: students who use the right tools to absorb classroom lectures end up doing better. But how much better? In this case, the students using podcasts got a C on the follow-up test. The students who didn't got a D. I guess that says something for the podcast lecture, but don't bank on them alone.

Thanks to @Cinetuyoymio for the lead here. Always feel free to send us tips at mail@oculture.com, or @openculture on Twitter. The more tips you send, the better Open Culture becomes for all.

You can access the aforementioned study for a fee here: iTunes University and the classroom: Can podcasts replace Professors? 


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  • Carol A says:

    As someone who is now studying I can say from my own experience that the best way is to attend the lecture, then listen to the podcast a week or so later. It really seems to “reinforce” the live experience of the lecture. Also, sometimes it is too easy to get so bogged down with notetaking that things get missed.

  • Our firm uses podcasts for all of our ongoing education needs. Our business, as well as many other businesses, are required to stay up to date with advances in products, standards, or laws and regulations.The best part about podcasts, is the ability to stop the lecture midstream so that we can discuss parts of the lecture, and to concentrate better on the topic.

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