Chronicle of Higher Ed Recognizes Unique Online Lecture Series

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BARUCH COLLEGE, New York, NY (6/24/03)--Three years ago, Professor Jeffrey Weiss of the economics department began producing digital video reproductions of lectures in macroeconomics and microeconomics, the main introductory courses to the department, using the MacIntosh QuickTime format. Students could get to the recordings via blackboard on the Baruch website and play back lectures theyd missed or wanted to review. Because more than 1,000 students per year take those courses, many students needs were served the hope was not only to expand technological opportunities and wizardry (always its own motive) but also to see a notably increase in the rates of students passing those important courses.

A recent review of the Fall 2002 data indicates an increase in the pass rates from the years before the video files were available. Whats more, now the accounting department is adding the main introductory accounting course to the list of classes covered.

These efforts, having garnered publicity and recognition at the technical level, with much assistance from Apple, have recently been recognized as well for their educational impact, in a long article in the online edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education. The Chronicle notes that, Most colleges that record lectures do so for the benefit of distance-education students. Baruch is unusual because it records lectures for some courses that it teaches in classrooms, and it spends very little money doing so. The lectures are available online a day or two [after recording]. Students can also download audio-only versions of the lectures to portable MP3 players, which many students have for listening to music.

Whats also exceptional and undeniably cool about the digital lecture footage is that the economic department puts in extra material for the web viewer, background text, bibliographic references, and links to pertinent material elsewhere on the web, all of which pop up to the right of the lecture image, so that students can pause the lecture and delve in greater detail into the aspect the lecturer is covering at that moment.

According to Mark Spergel, professor of communications studies and a senior advisor who worked with Weiss and the economics department in launching the project, usage was not at first overwhelming. Like a lot of technology, it started slowly, then as people got used to it they began using it a lot more. Now its a very important component in those courses and the approach is bound to expand.

The full Chronicle story can be read here: http://chronicle.com/free/v49/i48/48a02801.htm.