Replace lecturers with videos

The government are slowly getting around to tackling education in this country. They’re proposing an introduction of fees for students, cutbacks for special needs students…. now they want to sack staff and compress multiple courses in to one or compress multiple colleges in to one.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Stryker W@SP

That’s good in many ways… it’s efficiency. If the numbers add up, and it isn’t knee jerk tactics, then i welcome it. lecturers are overpaid and have it too easy in my view. 16 hours a week contact classes? 4 or 5 months in holidays per year, with pay? That doesn’t make it easy… it’s not. Lecturing is a tough job and i understand that – it requires a lot of preparation and knowledge in a certain area… years of study and experience.

That said, there are still too many weak links. I could learn more reading books than i could from some of my lectures. I’m pretty sure it’s the same in any school or college – you have good and bad teachers/lecturers. Of course they’ll defend themselves but it’s like bankers or politicians defending themselves – they’re detached from reality and used to comfort.

If i had things my way;

  • All lecturers would be placed on temporary contracts. Every single one of them. That immediately puts everyone under pressure to perform as their jobs are at stake.
  • Ban traditional lectures and record videos to put online – those videos are now our lecture classes. It gives me more control, it helps me learn ( i can pause and rewind stuff i don’t understand). It also reduces wage costs over time as lecturers can use the same video next year or for the next 2 years.

Basically, e-learning is the way forward. By all means sack lecturers, but replace them with technology. Make sure that technology is reliable and available 24/7.

The internet is better than any lecturer or teacher i’ve ever had. Why? Because it’s not human. It doesn’t make mistakes or misinform me. It can answer any question i have. I just need to know how to use it properly. All college courses should come with a ‘how to filter information on the internet module’ – it’s the most valuable skill you can have.

Shut down colleges completely if it makes financial sense – but get more online and create e-colleges. I don’t need to attend college 5 days a week doing an IT course – it’s a technology subject… it can be taught using IT and using the internet.

Have me scheduled to come in maybe one day a week just to tie things together. Apart from that, lecturers could easily record video tutorials or send me slides and questions. If i want to ask questions, get them on video conferencing or MSN for an hour. Allow anyone to ask them questions and allow me to look at the questions and answers. RECORD the questions and answers for future reference.

The technology is here. Right here, right now. We’re just not using it and it’s a combination of poor management, lack of vision and laziness. Cutbacks might just force people in to working harder though as they begin to sense fear.

18 thoughts on “Replace lecturers with videos”

  1. Yeah I kind of agree a bit about making lecturers available through online video, but it wouldnt hurt to be able to attend a lecture and it can be watched again at a later date, it would always be usefull for studying for exams.

    With all the different courses in the country being combined by the looks of it there is not too much being said about joining all the computer courses. If it does happen that they decide to join the courses then i would say Dundalk would be one to stay because i heard that of all the places in Ireland DKIT have one of the best IT Departments, I know that is hard to believe but apparently so!

    Hopefully if we have to move it wont be too far away. 😀

  2. I doubt the current IT set up at DKIT is one of the best in the country – if it is, our entire IT industry in Ireland is in trouble!

    Once the carrolls building gets kitted out though, on paper, it should be able to compete for the title of ‘Ireland’s best IT department’.

  3. I disagree with the doing away of lectures, the ability to ask a question of a human, and get a personalised response is invaluable.

    People can explain things in multiple ways if needs be, you can’t do that with video.

    Also, you’ve never been misinformed by the internet?? 🙂

  4. But with video, people pay more attention – they can jot down points they don’t understand, google them and if still unclear ask a question during a tutorial class.

    It’s all about self learning and in many ways asking questions and getting instant answers makes you lazy.

    The internet never misinforms me, people do 😉 if i’m given a wrong answer online, it’s my fault or my lack of education / skill for not being able to differentiate between trustworthy and dodgy sources 🙂

    Which is why an ‘information filtering’ module would be a of great benefit to all…

  5. very naive article.
    As an academic, and one who researches in what you call e-learning, I can assure you that the evidence tells us that passive, e-learning does *not* work.

    What you have described is the yellow-pack degree; fill in the application at the back of the cereal box and Tescos will email you your degree.

    Technology is not going to replace 200+ years of established learning practices.

    Don’t forget, to be classed as ‘expert’ requires 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, not a few hours in front of YouTube interspersed with funny videos.

    please have a balanced perspective.

  6. I would have LOVED school (at any level) if i could have done it online… ideally a 50-50 mixture of online / offline schooling (just to ensure some sort of discipline/motivation is kept in place plus to encourage real life social networking – i wouldn’t be in favour of online schooling for young kids as it would damage social integration i feel).

    But it’s cheaper to run than traditional education, it’s convenient for all (staff, students, parents), it’s safer (in terms of physical security as you can learn at home), plus in my view you actually learn more but i guess until cold hard stats prove it, we’ll have a hard time convincing the masses 🙂

  7. The internet as we know it is only about 20 years old and it’s replaced middle men like travel agents, post offices, libraries, even traditional media and entertainment…

    It’s naieve NOT to think it can replace tradional learning practices as it’s already changing the way we live and communicate.

    Don’t get me wrong, there’ll always be a need for classrooms in brick buildings and teachers / lecturers, but for example, i’m doing an IT course and 99% of the stuff i learn is online and easily accessible – all i need to know is what’s on my exam papers and the marking schemes.

    I shouldn’t need to physically attend lectures to get information which could easily have been given to me online. Of course i need to ask questions and interact with people, work in teams etc.. but as far as lectures go, by in large all students do is listen and take notes – we can do that looking at a video from the comfort of our own homes and like i’ve said before, raise any questions we have in tutorial classes.

    It saves money, it saves time and it’s the way forward. Doctors are twittering live surgery these days, some colleges offer podcasts and video streams of lectures; it may seem too space-agey for some, but don’t underestimate how quickly technology can catch on… all it takes is willing pioneers to lead the way.

    Tutorials, practicals, workshops etc… are a totally different story – i can’t argue with you there…

  8. You know what they say (actually it was just Gandhi): “be the change you wish to see in the world”.

    If you want this you should keep on advocating it. This is something you could work on during your career.

    Personally I dont like the idea of 100% at home lectures. It is an awesome idea but what gets me is this type of stuff will eventually infantilising the human race. Just look at us already, people cant even have a decent conversation or see anything passed the controlled mainstream media (thats changing due to the internet though). You go onto bebo, facebook, myspace etc and all you see are comments like “im dying of a hangover” from most people.

    Peoples attention span only last at most 3 mins in this day and age. If they’re at home and not “forced” to go into college and do work they wont be as motivated. Of course not saying you’ll be like that we can see how dedicated you are in your work.

    We will end up missing out on learning key social skills like interacting with each other in real life. We will miss out on the greatest miracle and that is for us humans to look through each others eyes. Instead we’ll be confined to our technocracy.

    I think the idea of recording classes is excellent though, that way if we do miss a class we can always watch the video.

  9. Just because someone has letters after their name doesnt make them an expert either or give them the authority on truth.

    So called “experts” are really just repeaters who repeat the indoctrination given to them by teachers who are just repeating their indoctrination.

    Sure i could find someone, who never went to college, better than me at software programming. I mean by that is if someone has an interest in something they’ll learn about it just as much, or even more, then the guy who’s going to college.

    I have to admit without the internet my IQ would be a third of what it is now. I’ve seriously learned so much, consciously and subconsciously.

    Thing is, we really shouldnt be wasting our time here arguing about this. If our government didnt borrow money from banks to give to other banks (which causes inflation and causes us the tax payer to owe the fake money back) we wouldnt be in this mess. The amount of money they gave to the banks could have funded Ireland for at least 50 years. The money was pointless anyway, because you cant keep going to the printing press and expect a solution, it doesnt make sense to pay off debt with more debt does it? lol

  10. I honestly found this to be such a one-sided point of view that it made me laugh. Perhaps an IT course could be taught online where all the questions that need to be asked have an answer or at least guidance towards a solution.

    However, what about a philosophy degree? Can you type into google a morally challenging question and get the right answer? No you can not (Believe me i’ve tried.)
    Or psychology, where much of what is taught and practiced is still only speculation. It is through living in the world and engaging with other people that we learn these skills.

    And doing away with lectures automatically makes college about studying a subject and just that subject, whereas college is about receiving an education which is as much social interaction as anything else.

  11. It’s not the letters after someone’s name that makes them an expert, it’s the amount of work and research they had to do to EARN those letters that does.

    As for calling doctors of whatever subject (I assume that’s what you mean by people with letters after their name) “repeaters”, well that’s a bit silly since PhDs or whatever other postgraduate course you do to achieve that level of education requires your own research, your own ideas.

    Yes we do learn a lot from the internet, and its a great forum for debate, but I find most of what you said in your article ridiculous Sean. For a start you mention cutting back on funding for special needs students. That’s a bit much don’t you think? These people need the support they’re getting at schools not just for education but also for quality of life, and cutting back on their services just isn’t fair.

    Then there’s fees, personally I could afford to go to college even if I had to pay fees, but I’m willing to bet I know plenty of people who couldn’t. How can denying an education to those who can’t pay for it be more efficient? Are colleges going to become like private schools?

    As for putting all lecturers on temporary contracts, that’s totally unfair. After years of hard work they’ve earned their entitlement to a steady job as much as anyone else. In my experience all my lecturers have been excellent and DO work as much as they can for their students. By your logic the whole world should be on temporary contracts to motivate them to work better.

    Then sacking lecturers? Hang on, who exactly is going to make the videos? Make and correct the exams? Tell the tutors what they’re supposed to be tutoring? Who’s going to attract companies to sponsor research in their departments and who’s going to carry out that research?

    I usually really like what you write, sometimes it’s a bit OTT but it’s generally of fairly good quality but this post is just ridiculous. What about people who don’t have computers, or broadband? How are they going to get their education? If you can learn everything your lecturer has to teach you then why do you even bother going to class when you could just sit at home and learn it yourself?

  12. Hang on a second here 🙂 i’m not for cutting back on special needs or introducing fees – the complete opposite; to become a knowledge economy, knowledge must be free and available to as many people as possible! I was merely stating what the government are doing or planning to do.

    On the subject of replacing lecturers with video, i’m saying lecture classes (NOT tutorials, or practicals or workshops etc..) carried out using video saves time & money and theoretically should increase performance as students can ‘replay’ a one hour lecture time and time again until they understand everything. You can’t replay a live lecture.

    I’m basing my opinion on what i feel and what i see wit my own eyes. In lecture classes, information is all one way – it’s note taking, listening, looking at diagrams / slides etc… questions & answers are generally kept to a minimum or left until the lecture has been complete.

    Does it not make sense to at least record lectures and have them online as references as well as running the live lecture classes? Of course it does… but i’d question the need for scheduled lecture classes full stop.

    People go to college to get degrees – it’s the only place you can. If an online college were available to me, i’d have seriously considered it.

    Not all students have computers, point taken, but they all have access to them. You don’t need broadband 24/7 to study or watch videos. Videos can be downloaded & stored on a hard drive or even a usb stick.

    In later years (once course lectures have all been recorded on video), lecture videos could be given on a usb stick in advance to new students. Transcripts could be provided… in multiple languages. The technology is endless..

    Yes, there will always be a need for traditional ‘face to face’ learning – particularly when working in teams or on a one to one basis – i don’t question the value of that.

    But when one person is speaking to many (i.e. a lecture to a large class), the personal ‘face to face’ touch is lost – it’s very difficult to keep 30+ people engaged for 1 hour – which is why i feel giving ME the control to watch and learn in MY OWN TIME makes more sense. It improves the chances of me remembering things!

    What happens if i’m sick or late or the lecturer is sick or late? Nothing – no worries as everything is all recorded and online – nobody gets hurt, nobody loses out.

  13. Yeah i’d agree with you jonny… social skills are crucial in life and the only way we can improve them is by networking face to face which at first glance, it looks like i’m arguing against 🙂

    But i’m not, i think we just need to be smarter with our teaching/learning. At the minute, e-learning is seen as something which compliments traditonal learning.

    I’m saying e-learning is good enough on it’s own in some cases to over take traditional methods of learning. Lectures are a perfect example – do we really gain much value from physically attending lectures when all we do is listen and take notes?

    I’m saying if lectures and lectures only, were to be recorded and put online, it would save costs in the long term plus give us a better chance of remembering and absorbing information..

  14. There is still no reference to the problem of subjects that do not have answers. I would greatly appreciate some sort of acknowledgement of this problem. Thanks

  15. I accept things like philosophy, religion, law etc… are all open to interpretation and aren’t ‘black and white’ subjects like say computing or maths. But is there really enough question and answer time or interaction in those lectures to make them vital to physically attend? I suspect not as they are after all lecture classes which means it’s not about talking, it’s about listening.

    Why not meet half way and create one questions & answers / debate class per week in which the lecture acts as a referee / expert?

  16. I believe the lectures are vital areas for debate in Philosophy. When you have a lecturer who is aware of the needs of the students lectures are no longer just somewhere you sit and listen. It is an engaging experience that I believe is essential to the entire university experience.

    Perhaps you experience lectures where there are too many students in a lecture and it is difficult to interact with the lecturer but this can remedied with simple division of classes.

    Video lectures also discourage people leaving their homes which I believe is a horrible unhealthy ideal to promote. The idea of sitting in front of a computer all day should never be encouraged and people should be given every incentive to be out and about, in lectures, even for the walk to the lecture, and the social interaction that occurs surrounding the lecture.

  17. but it’s a bit like TV impacting on health and human/human interaction – there will always be people who will suffer…

    but students (at least college students) are adults and have the ability to make choices for themselves.

    i could easily spend my day watching TV or i could easily have not gone to college…. i did go because i want to improve and get a job etc…

    that thing driving me will always win out over any temptation. ‘traditional’ is a word i don’t like, being an IT enthusiast 🙂 I’m wired to want the future NOW, the same way you are wired to protect what we already have and don’t see the point in fixing things if they’re not broken.

    i understand the points you’re making and agree with them to an extent, but i feel tehcnology is not being used enough in education and we should be making more of an effort to at least experiment.

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