Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Podcasting the Other

So the folks at Apple have rolled out their latest endeavor called iTunes U. At first glance, it seems to be a rather extensive list of lectures, etc. on a huge array of topics. Searching Anthropology brought up not only the new AAA podcasts but also a Distance Learning Course taught by Joylin Namie at Utah Valley State College. I downloaded lecture number #1 "What is Anthropology" (which took an inordinate amount of time--but I am on the old home laptop, which has a couple of years on it) and watched a bit while chewing my mental cud about using it for my own Distance Learning course.

It seems somehow bizarre to use someone else's lectures for teaching my course. While watching the first half of the lecture, I found myself extra-sensitive to the difference between Namie's perspective and my own. In the grand scheme of things, there is little difference between us but, yet, some difference exists. And those tiny differences suddenly seemed disproportionately important. Would I be happier if I just made my own podcasts? One of my colleagues has begun to do that for those times when he must be absent from his classroom class.

So, I pulled myself out of those thoughts and tried to decide if students would actually get through the whole series. It seemed a strangely passive experience to watch her panel of students ask pat questions. Was I a bit bored because I already know it all (after all, its just the intro lecture) or would a student also find their mind wandering? Is that any different than what my students experience in class every day? Can they do just as well with reading the text on their own, after all it seems somehow faster and not that different when you factor in reading the power point slides which pop up during her lectures.

Its very early going, I mean I only got through the first lecture but still...

For such an opinionated person, I sure am having trouble forming an opinion.

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