Podcasts are better than lectures

Students have been handed another excuse to skip class from an unusual quarter. New psychological research suggests that university students who download a podcast lecture achieve substantially higher exam results than those who attend the lecture in person. Podcasted lectures offer students the chance to replay difficult parts of a lecture and therefore take better notes, says Dani McKinney, a psychologist at the State University of New York in Fredonia, who led the study. “It isn’t so much that you have a podcast, it’s what you do with it,” she says. Launched less than two years ago, Apple’s iTunes university offers college lectures on everything from Proust to particle physics to students and the public. Some universities make their lectures available to all, while others restrict access to enrolled students. Some professors even limit downloads to encourage class attendance, McKinney says.
New Scientist 18 February 2009; tip from Georg Holzer

Hmmm… nice. Beats huge, overcrowded lecture halls, for sure. When I was studying in Berlin the professors there were so strange or difficult for me to relate to that I only managed to stay awake by eating candy bars and drinking coffee. How many times did I wish I could hear something again because I’d missed it, my mind off on a tangent. I wouldn’t want to replace all lessons with remote learning. Seminars and workshops are so much more effective face to face, where you can use all of the vibes that a group of interested people create. But it’s the mix of doing things on your own terms, alone and with others, and using those moments alone when your system says “go! now! I’m ready!” that feels so right.

You know, it’s a pity that the only real money is in face to face training. Or do you see things differently?

New tools



Supporting a web relaunch is making me think what a language learning website should look like in a perfect world. Give me a couple of hundred thousand euros and I’ll get my act together 😉

For the time being I’m enjoying the new ideas out there. My favorites are interactive videos that speak to you (which is your win) when you click them in the right place. It has that playfulness we all love, like tickling someone and they squeal for you. I like “Save the words” by OUP, which unfortunately has selected words that are useless for most of us. Plus, of course, the word you pick would have to say its name, right? But get a load of the great interface :-D. Just imagine a website that has all the exercises behind buttons like those… Cooooool. Ach, who will give me the money to do all I want to do?