Duane Szafron is a Computing Sciences professor at the University of Alberta. He’s also a podcaster. Sadly, being both a podcaster and a professor is currently a fairly rare combination, but I hope the work of Szafron and others will change that:
“I think it makes it harder for people who give fairly boring lectures. I think more students won’t show up for those,” he said. “And I guess my attitude [as a professor] is, if you can’t deliver anything extra than what you would provide online or whatever, then what’s the difference if people don’t show up for class? Is that really bad if people don’t show up?”
Spot on! I’ve written before about podcasting and boring lectures, and I completely agree with Professor Szafron. Recorded audio and video lectures are not a replacement for class time, they are a complement.
It sounds like Szafron’s podcasts have been a hit, at least based on an informal survey of his students. Currently he makes lectures available in MP3 format, though he apparently experimented with video as far back as 1999. Both have their place, but I think audio is a much more appropriate format for lectures – they are easy to listen to on the bus, train, or while doing something else.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we might be able to help educational institutions take advantage of podcasting. Maybe I’ll have to pay Professor Szafron (who I never had as a prof) and his colleagues a visit!
Read: The Gateway