Friday, October 24, 2008

Do Weblectures require a new pedagogy?

I have been rather busy lately, and been away from my blog awhile. It is about time I posted some news. To start with I would like to respond to a discussion back in June which Rino Zandee posted on his blog (and Wilfred Rubens also wrote about) in response to an article in the NRC (and a posting on this blog).
Their position was: Weblectures require a new pedagogy.
I do not agree with them, but I think this is mainly a matter of definition. In the approach we have used at Utrecht University we have started to record lectures according to two models (both of which are called Weblectures):
1. Recording the F2F lecture for the students in the class. This was a very basic approach and has proven valuable. Students value the recordings as they can check part of the lectures, use them for revision and do not miss a lecture if they were ill. For students with several handicaps the recordings are extremely valuable as this allows them to follow the lecture again and improve their notes. For proof of this please read the full report.
Please note that trying to watch a full hour and a half of lecture is extremely boring, students only choose to do this if they really missed the lecture. We have never intended these weblectures as learning objects in their own right. In using this approach you do not need to change the pedagogy of the lecture, although of course a lecture can always be improved. In fact: teachers have improved their teaching by looking at their performance.
2. Creating a learning object specifically for online viewing. This is a completely different approach. An online lecture should be short, concise, rich in illustrations, 20 minutes max, preferably less. At least as important as the lecture is the embedding of this learning object in the learning process. Students do not generally learn by simply offering them information (a hint of a slight euphemism here ;-). They learn through activities in which they are required to apply the information acquired (assignments, discussions, essays and of course the classic exams). If this is your definition of a weblecture then yes: please do change your pedagogy before you stand in front of a camera.

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