Killing the Lecture With Technology, Part II

Earlier this month, The Chronicle wrote about New York University’s attempt to reprogram the roles of some professors in large undergraduate classes, using technology to free them up for more personal instruction. The article prompted other professors to share similar examples of strategies they’ve used to shift class time away from lectures. Here are three of their stories:

* David B. Miller, a psychology professor at the University of Connecticut, spent 400 hours producing 90 videos for a large undergraduate animal-behavior course. The content, which includes narrated film clips and animations, is available as streaming video on password-protected servers and not to the public due to copyright issues. The idea is to substitute the online lectures for one of the course’s biweekly class sessions. The remaining meeting is devoted to additional content, discussion, and questions. Honors students also gather face-to-face for an extra hour of discussion each week, which is recorded and turned into a podcast. The format works: “Almost half the class earned A’s (I do not curve grades), and for the first time that I can recall, nobody failed the course,” writes Mr. Miller, who is pictured above. Here’s a video explaining his methods.

* Michael L. Satlow, professor of religious studies and Judaic studies at Brown University, developed a series of 30-minute podcasts that is publicly available on iTunes (“From Israelite to Jew”). It began primarily as a private project meant to make make his work accessible to the general public, but he always had in mind the idea of using it in class. Next semester, he will. In a class on early Jewish and Christian history, Mr. Satlow plans to assign the episodes along with the readings. “I plan to devote class time to very little ‘frontal’ presentation and a lot of discussion,” he writes. “In my opinion, it is in large measure the give and take of the classroom that adds value to education and that justifies the price tag, not the faculty presentation.”

* Gregory A. Moses, a professor of engineering physics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, has tried to reverse the “lecture-homework paradigm” in a computational science course. Instead of watching a lecture and doing homework later, outside the classroom, students study the lectures on their own time online. Class is a lab, with students solving problems under the supervision of faculty. Mr. Moses went from “not knowing the names of the students in his huge lectures to knowing which ones smoked and which ones didn’t,” writes Glenda Morgan, an e-learning strategist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who sent me an e-mail pointing to projects by Mr. Moses and other professors at Big 10 universities. Click on the link above Mr. Moses’ picture here to learn more about his work.

Drop us a note in the comments below if you’ve got a story to share about how technology is changing how you use class time.

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