Published in Proceedings of the 2009 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Austin, TX, January 1, 2009.
In this study we examine in some detail the effectiveness of enhanced podcasting compared with traditional face-to-face class meeting. Enhanced podcasting goes beyond simply recording the audio portion of a lecture. It may include the video footage from the class meeting or, as in our case, the presented material (including each written pen stroke) exactly as seen by students sitting in the classroom with the instructor. The course we studied is Applied Thermodynamics, a junior-level course for mechanical engineering students. For this study we had access to three sections of the course, all taught by the same faculty member. For a single topic of this course one section was selected to not attend the in-class lectures associated with the topic. Instead, the students in this section were asked to watch the podcasts (recorded from one of the other two regular class meetings) within 48 hours of the scheduled class. The topic lasted for three 50minute class meetings. At the end of the cluster of classes for this topic, a homework assignment was completed and a quiz was administered (in person) to each student. Our results show that enhanced podcasting appears to be a viable means to replace some face-to-face class meetings, but its many pitfalls outweigh its benefits. Students report a perceived decreased amount of learning that we attribute to the lack of social interactions with peers and instructor and the decreased motivation level to use the podcasts. On the other hand, enhanced podcasting meets the students’ overwhelming desire to ‘attend class’ at the time and place of their choosing. The undeniable benefit of podcasting is its ability to allow students to pause a class for reflection or to replay portions of a class for review.
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