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Students: Video lectures allow for more napping


More than half of students said streaming lectures improved their grades.
More than half of students said streaming video lectures have improved their grades.

College students gave video lectures high marks in a recent survey, although many students supported the technology because it freed up more time for napping and hanging out with friends.

And three in 10 said their parents would be “very upset” if they knew just how often their child missed class and relied on their course web site.

A majority of students who responded to the survey, conducted in August by audio, internet, and video conferencing provider InterCall, said they would only attend a live lecture if an exam were scheduled for that day, or to borrow notes from a classmate. The survey didn’t indicate the percentage of students who took this position.

Far from being a scientific study, the poll nonetheless seems to confirm a key fear of many college professors about the availability of video lecture-capture technology: that it could lead to a drop in attendance at the live lectures themselves.

Working students seemed “to reap the greatest benefits from video streamed course content,” according to the InterCall survey of 504 college-aged respondents, because web-based lectures would allow them to work longer hours and watch the videos during their free time.

Overall, video lectures were popular with students who participated in the survey. Fifty-three percent of respondents said they “learn more effectively” with online lectures, and 54 percent “report that their grades improve when lectures are streamed via video online,” according to InterCall. That also confirms an important benefit of video lectures as noted by supporters: that they allow students to go back and review the content as needed.

Nearly three-quarters of students said that streaming lectures online “helps them be better prepared for exams.” And when lectures aren’t available via online video, 49 percent of students take matters into their own hands and record lectures on their own so they can review the material later.

Some respondents pointed out the convenience of being able to plop down in front of a laptop and watch lectures instead of schlepping to the lecture hall bright and early. About four in 10 students said “not having to get dressed for class” was among the benefits of online lectures. Twenty-three percent listed “being able to take more naps during the day” among their benefits.

Corinne Gregory, an author and expert on social skills, said that while educational video content has become an important part of higher education, some of the reasons students lobby for video lectures are “indicative” of the modern college-student mindset.

“They can’t be bothered with things that require stepping out of their own comfort and convenience zone,” she said. “Rather than adapt themselves … they want things the way they want things. College isn’t Burger King—you can’t always have it your way.”

Attending lectures and sticking to a schedule, Gregory said, is a critical part of college life that prepares students for the professional world. Relying on instant access to everything at any time, she said, could be detrimental for teenagers and 20-somethings.

“The continued attitude of, ‘It’s about me and my convenience’ is one that extends into many aspects of their lives, from school, to work, to community obligations,” Gregory said. “How much more self-absorbed does it get?”

InterCall’s survey—while reporting largely positive views about web-based lectures—showed that many students have taken courses that use video content rarely, if at all.

Twenty-six percent said their professor “sometimes” broadcasted class sessions over the internet, and 44 percent said their instructors “rarely” or “never” used the technology.

Twenty-three percent of respondents said their professors “often” provided streaming lectures, and 7 percent said they “always” had the online lecture option available.

The potential isolation of online learning didn’t affect student opinions; nearly half “prefer joining their classes online rather than interacting in person with their classmates and professors.”

Higher-education technology advocates describe many professors as “skittish” about lectures available on the web, because the anytime availability gives students no incentive to attend class—making lecturers expendable.

Nearly six in 10 IT staff support lecture-capture technology, according to a report from CDW-Government Inc. released this past summer, while just two in 10 instructors are in agreement. The survey revealed the common friction between IT personnel who pushed for wide-ranging campus technology and professors who supported a more gradual approach to technology adoption, especially with web-based lectures.

College faculty “want to resist technologies that replace the traditional classroom lecture,” said Jeremy Hyman, a longtime college educator and co-author of Professors’ Guide: The Secrets of College Success. “They want technologies that serve as a reasonable extension of their courses.”

Hyman continued: “Once professors have that 400-person lecture, they’ve laid the groundwork themselves for the problem. Once you’ve stopped engaging students in a one-to-one mode, it’s a small step for a university to license the content and stream it to students on the other side of the pipe.”

The CDW-G report also showed that one-fourth of student respondents believed the “biggest impediment” to improved classroom technology is their professors’ inability to use the devices and online programs.

Fourteen percent of students said professors simply “won’t use” technology that is available to them. Eighteen percent of IT staffers agreed.

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