Did you watch Steven Miller’s video yesterday? No? Bad reader! Here (pdf) are his presentation slides about the benefits of recording lectures at Williams. Highly recommended! One highlight:

What is the purpose of recorded lectures?

  • More material (both at home and in class).
  • Aids absent students / students who want to review.
  • Use material as review / supplement in other classes.
  • Easier to travel.
  • Remote students.

Good stuff. I love it when Williams professors experiment, when they try to push forward the frontiers of pedagogy.

However, I predict that lecture recording is not the future of elite liberal arts colleges. The future is no more lectures.

[Former Williams President] Schapiro claimed that, while discussion sections and tutorials in fields like philosophy and English are wonderful, it would be “stupid” to have discussion-sized sections for introductory classes in economics and the like.

Nothing could be further from the spirit of Mark Hopkins. There are no lectures on the log.

First, lectures are inefficient for students. Anything that a professor says in a lecture, as opposed to a discussion, could just as easily be typed beforehand and read by students at their own convenience. Reading is much quicker than listening and, more importantly, allows different students to focus on the parts that they don’t understand and to skim the parts that they do.

Miller’s recordings are better than live lectures because it allows students who already understand topic X to fast-forward through that part of the lecture while students who have difficulty with X can easily repeat the same portion several times.

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