Elsewhere – iPods become new class substitute


(U-WIRE) SAN DIEGO-When Purdue University senior Marcos Kohler skipped a physics class to attend a concert in Chicago, he didn’t have to borrow a classmate’s notes to catch up.

Instead, he connected his silver iPod to a computer, downloaded the lecture, and from the comfort of a campus coffee shop, listened to the two-hour discussion on particle physics.

“It recreates the entire class experience,” said Kohler, 22, who missed another lecture at the West Lafayette, Ind., campus when he overslept for the 1:30 p.m. class.

A videoconference class would be even better, he said, but “to go from paper printouts to audio, this is a step in the right direction.”

It’s a step that a small but growing number of professors are trying. By turning class lectures into podcasts-free audio shows that students can download to their iPods or other portable players-students can skip the lecture hall but still hear the lecture.

students who miss a class or want to review the material, while professors get points for being flexible and using the latest, hippest gadget.

More traditional academics fear that by listening to lectures on the run, students will miss out on learning that can only happen when students and instructors come together.

Professors have posted lecture notes, PowerPoint slides and other written class material online for years, but instructors only recently began testing the best uses of the popular audio technology.

At Drexel University in Philadelphia, a chemistry professor assigns podcasted lectures, recorded last semester, for homework and then uses class time to review problems. At the University of Michigan, lectures can be automatically delivered to dentistry students’ computers or portable devices.

And at the University of Hawaii, hundreds of students in a computer science class are required to show up at a lecture hall only twice a semester — for the midterm and final. Instead of a textbook, they purchase a small iPod at the bookstore, though most students already have one, the course professor said.