|Title||Lectures and Distance Learning|
|Department||Department of Geography, University College London, 26 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AP, UK|
|Tel.||+44 (0)171 504 4271|
|Fax||+44 (0)171 380 7565|
This review is based on papers by Fox (1996) and Hellwege et al. (1996).
Two examples are cited here. The first case study by Fox was taken from Canadian experience where there has been a tremendous growth in HE students numbers yet the size of the country presents a geographic barrier to participation. The particular example concerns a course in human geography consisting of 48 one-hour lectures, which was subsequently broadcast and distributed using video tapes for students off-campus. The second case study by Hellwege et al. comes from Australia and uses the WWW to reinforce materials utilised in geology lectures both to students on site and those at a distant campus where video is also distributed.
Lectures were presented in a 450-seat lecture theatre using standard audio-visual equipment. They were recorded onto video-tape for subsequent broadcast or distribution. The visual course content included maps, satellite imagery, photographs and tables of data. Non-standard equipment included an overhead television camera for the display of illustrations.
The lectures were followed-up on campus by taught discussion groups led by graduate students, using exercises provided. Those off-campus were mailed the exercises and could seek advice by telephone. An answering machine was dedicated to calls about the course. The course enrolment was 812 (295 off-campus).
Teaching of geology using the World Wide Web
All lecture materials were prepared using Microsoft PowerPoint. The full text of the lecture and all illustrations were made available via the WWW prior to the lectures.
Fox reports the results of two types of evaluation: student performance, and a student course evaluation questionnaire. In student performance there was a 20% drop out rate (left the programme) for those watching televised lectures. This is reported by the author to be average for such classes but twice the loss found for the classroom-based group. The average grade earned was slightly higher (64.9%) for those watching at home compared with an average of 62.7% for those on campus. It is difficult to draw firm conclusions from such data because of the different compositions and study regimes of the two groups.
Students noted the following advantages for using video:
An advantage not noted in this study is that for foreign students the ability to play-back can help their understanding of both the subject and their English. It could also be argued that more eminent academics could be persuaded to teach on a course if the timing of its recording is determined by their own diaries.
The disadvantages included:
The use of WWW pages appeared to make students more attentive in lectures as it reduced the need for note taking. Other advantages are a clearer structure and the same lecture can be repeated by a number of staff as the materials are already organised. It is reported that overall students felt their understanding and retention had improved.
'This is certainly the way to go. It gives the student time to ingest the information at a pace conducive to retaining the information.'
(student evaluation response, Hellwege et al. p.4)
Hellwege, J, Gleadow, A. & McNaught, C. (1996) Paperless lectures: an evaluation of the educational outcomes of teaching geology using the Web, GEOCAL, 15 (Dec.), pp.3-6.
Rose, G. (1996) Teaching visualised geographies: towards a methodology for the interpretation of visual methods, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 20(3), pp.281-294.
Rowntree, D. (1990) Teaching Through Self Instruction (London: Kogan Page).