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I like to watch

If you know something is readily available online, you're likely to forget about it

Do you like to watch? Or do you prefer being there?

There's been a lot of discussion lately about the use of video and audio lecture capture technology to record videos of lectures or classroom activity. This means that students can review the class later, or even watch it if they happen to miss it. Most universities offer this service as a matter of course. Increasingly, TAFE NSW Institutes are investigating it as a possible way of offering choices to students.

But is it the best way to fully engage students? What are the implications of offering this choice (for both the teachers and the students)?

A few weeks ago I was at the ASCILITE Conference (Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education) at Macquarie University, where I heard about an interesting study into lecture capture technology. The results are probably not surprising.

Students who'd normally skip lectures are now more likely to, because they feel they can "catch up later". The trouble is, they often don't. This is known as the Google Effect, meaning that if you know something is readily available online, you're likely to forget about it. Or leave it until later.

Which means that just before exams, there's a huge amount of viewing being done as students try to catch up on all the lectures or classes they've missed. Cramming to the extreme.

Students who'd normally try to attend every class tend to use both lectures and lecture capture technology.

Now being able to catch up if you've been sick, or being able to review something that you didn't understand, seems at the outset to be a great idea. After all, if you give people the choice then they can make the decision. But it seems that choice for some people means they choose the immediate easy option. And this can work against them in the long run.

For some people, ‘choice' means that they'll intentionally miss classes because they can always catch up later. But as they often don't, they can end up falling behind.

So if you like being there, and like to watch, you're probably in the best position.

If you only like to watch, you may be in for a surprise at exam time.