Once limited to geeky teens with overindulgent parents, iPods seem to have made their way into just about every pocket, purse and backpack on campus. Seeing the little white headphones as an opportunity to make education more convenient, some universities – including Ohio State University and the University of Texas – have made available podcasts of class lectures. The University of Michigan’s School of Dentistry has taken the lead in podcasting on this campus, providing an example that other schools at the University should follow. Making lectures available through podcasts would help students by allowing them more access to class materials and would put the University among the more technologically advanced institutions in the country.

Sarah Royce

Podcasting lectures would prove a real benefit to students. Rather than hastily scribbling to catch every word that comes from the professor’s mouth, students could relax and really listen, being able to revisit important details after class. Podcasting represents a convenient mode of reviewing class notes – accessible via any MP3 player whether driving or walking through the park. Even those without an MP3 player could benefit by listening to lectures on a computer.

Although some professors have expressed concerns over the effect podcasts would have on lecture attendance, other universities that have implemented the program have found no significant drop. One professor at the University said podcasts actually made his lectures more lively. In addition, students who must miss lecture on occasion would not be penalized and could still have the same opportunity to listen to the professor as everyone else.

Teaching methods invariably change as technology advances, and podcasts would enhance learning and improve the quality of teaching at the University. Professors are under no obligation to use podcasts, yet the option should be available and encouraged. In most classrooms, any student with the right tools can currently record lectures himself, but podcasts would make those recordings widely available and more convenient. The iPod is here to stay – the University might as well take advantage of it.

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