Digital killing the lecturing stars

I have a sneaking suspicion that we university lecturers are so good at incorporating new media into our work that we may do ourselves out of a job.

When I was an undergraduate student, the only technology a lecturer had was a microphone. That was, of course, about 300 years ago – well, it was the 1980s, but that was before most of my current students were born, so for them it might as well have been the 1700s.

There was no such thing as taking the register at classes. As a colleague put it recently: “If you had a lecture or a tutorial, you just went.” No roll call was needed, because you had to attend classes in order to get the information.

If you missed a lecture, you hoped a kind friend would give you their notes – and prayed that they had paid attention and written down the right thing.

I don’t remember any photocopied sheets, handouts with the basic material you needed or even unit guides, unless you were doing distance courses (off-campus or extramural). University learning was about attending lectures and furiously taking notes, applying that knowledge at tutorials, and reading widely about the subject from the reading list and beyond. You had to think about and source material for yourself.

With the wonders of digital technology, university learning has become high-tech. In my lectures, I love to use PowerPoint slides with links to YouTube clips and other material. My slides are posted on the unit’s website each week, and my lectures are recorded and made available via the library website.

Read full article, and think whether we’re doing ourselves out of a job, or whether we now have a bigger audience, and that we need to be thinking of new ways to capture that audience.

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