Other Campuses: Putting price tags on ditching class

(U-WIRE) BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The price tag of Pick-A-Prof’s new service, offering students access to recordings of class lectures online, seems reasonable at first ($5 a pop). But at the cost of classroom attendance and interaction between students and professors, the service’s potential for damage far outweighs potential benefits.

The program, not currently offered at Indiana University, is currently little more than a pilot – only four professors are using it so far, one of them the father of Pick-A-Prof’s president. The Web site promises as an incentive to split its $5 fee with instructors who post their lectures on the site. Professors who are hesitant to jump on board might be asking the same question we are – can you put a price tag on class attendance?

Pick-A-Prof insists the online lectures would act as study aids instead of an excuse for students to skip class. Yeah, right. Easy availability of professors’ lectures online is likely to encourage a lackluster attitude toward class attendance. The few professors who are trying out the service say they haven’t noticed a dip in class attendance, but they admit most students aren’t using the service at all yet. After only three weeks of classes, stress, fatigue and overwork are just beginning to affect students. Class attendance levels might decrease with the growing popularity of the service and rising levels of student stress.

With the temptations of the college party scene, the attraction of hundreds of extracurricular activities and the collegiate epidemic of sleep deprivation, students don’t need another excuse to miss class. Face-to-face interaction between professors and students is still a crucial component of the college experience. Students are encouraged to visit their professors’ office hours on a regular basis, to get to know their instructors as individuals and to participate actively in the classroom for a reason. Interacting with the instructor and participating in the intellectual give-and-take of both lecture and discussion courses help not only to facilitate understanding of the material, but also to give students a more personal investment in academic success. Services, like the one Pick-A-Prof has created, undermine the importance of instructor-student interaction crucial for a quality education.

Re-listening to lectures before major exams is not a bad idea. Many people learn by oral repetition of concepts, key terms or complex arguments. If a student wants to orally review daily lectures before exams, however, Pick-A-Prof is not the only or cheapest option. If an old-fashioned tape recorder is too passe, the iPod users, to whom Pick-A-Prof has geared its new feature, can buy an attachable iPod mic for $40 – a fraction of the price for what the Pick-a-Prof service can add up to. The prices of attachable mics for other MP3 devices are comparable.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

The professed goal of Pick-A-Prof’s new feature – to provide professor lectures to students for use as study aides – is noble but ignores the reality of the market it targets. The online lecture server is potentially helpful to students wanting extra review. However, the service’s potential to encourage spotty attendance and rob students of an interactive college experience far outweighs its hypothetical benefits.

Staff Editorial

Indiana Daily Student (Indiana U.)