Recorded lectures are beneficial for all

By Lifei Chen, Columnist

Midterms have rolled in like a storm the past couple of weeks. As I was going over my notes and practice exams for my neuroscience class, I was overwhelmed by some weird Greek terminology so obscure that even Wikipedia couldn’t save me. I wish I could travel back to that specific point in time when the professor explained this material.

But I couldn’t.

That’s why websites like Echo360, which feature videos of class lectures, mean so much to me.  These videos capture the professor’s every word, each slideshow and even answers to the students’ questions; however, not all classes are recorded — but I wish they were.

Unfortunately, the only taste I have of the videotaping experience was once last semester when I took CS 125: Intro to Computer Science. The videos were helpful when I had difficulty understanding code from lecture slides, especially because the line in front of the teacher assistant’s office was seemingly endless.

If this videotaping technology was applied to more classes, it would have the potential to benefit students at all skill levels.

For one, students who miss class due to some inevitable circumstance can watch class recordings online. Family emergencies or nasty colds can happen to anyone at any time during the semester, but limited attendance policies can make missing class detrimental to your grade; without videotaping, if you miss a class, you’ve missed it forever. Due to these circumstances, you risk missing information that’s likely to appear on a quiz or exam. Although notes from your classmates may be available, they cannot compare. You will miss some points illustrated during class or get confused by equations in need of further justification. However, if a video of class was available, you could watch it and obtain almost the same experience as those who attended class.

Last semester, I had a family emergency and stayed at home for a couple of days, which made me miss two CS 125 classes. Thanks to Echo360, I was able to watch the videos from home. No more confusion or really any consequences other than losing a few participation points.

Additionally, any student who wants to review or redigest the critical parts from class can have access to that information.  

Take my psychology class as an example.  This class requires a lot of time and energy put into taking notes and listening to additional explanations to understand the readings and slides.  The problem lies in that human beings simply cannot keep their brains highly concentrated on both the slides and notes for 50 minutes, and taking notes acts as a distraction from paying attention to the professor.  

Even if you’re sure to attend every class,  you can still miss some of the points as you are trying to absorb as much knowledge as possible.  Some classes have an overload of information or are simply too fast-paced to understand in one sitting. If the class is videotaped, students will be able to review the concepts several times, which is optimal for learning.You can also control the pace of the study by doing whatever you want to the clips — fast-forward and pause functions are extremely helpful.  

I assure you that students’ grades will be boosted because access to materials will strengthen learning by staying in the cerebral cortex for a longer period of time.  Although some problems may arise — like decreased class attendance — the benefits outweigh the problems. After all, all it takes are iClicker questions or a funny instructor to entice students enough to actually attend class.

Lifei is a junior in LAS.

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