Saturday, January 14, 2006

Digital Natives and Early Posting of Presentations

As a follow on to my earlier post, I thought I'd make a couple of comments about digital natives.

First though, some background. A fairly regular request from students is for presentations to be made available before lectures rather than after - normally the presentations are made available later the same day, or as soon after that as possible. I can see the advantages of pre-posting of presentations. As a learner, I would much rather have the presentation in front of me so I could annotate it as I listen to the lecture. However, many lecturers are quite resistant to the idea. Some would even prefer that the students didn't get the presentation at all. The most common reasons for not providing the notes are:
  1. Students wont attend if they have the notes.
  2. Making notes available early would spoil the surprise(s) contained in the presentation.
In principle I have no problem about posting the lecture notes before hand. If students think they will get the same value from a downloaded presentation as they will from attending the lecture, on their own heads be it! I have a bit more sympathy with objection 2, but in the past I have provided a slightly edited version in advance where effectively I leave the set up but remove the punchline (if you see what I mean). In practice however I find it difficult to be organised enough to do this.

For example, I fully intended to post my presentation for the ICT lecture I did on Friday with Ewan by Wednesday at the latest but inevitably I was working on it right up to the last minute. I eventually posted it at 23:56 on the Thursday night. The first student to find my post read it at 23:58 and downloaded it at 23:59! Wow! Throughout the night, or rather the following morning, students continued to download the presentation. There were a number of downloads up to about 03:00 on Friday morning, then a slight gap before they started up again at 07:39. At the start of my lecture, 10:00 Friday morning, I showed the students the message history - the presentation had been downloaded 32 times - the last student downloading it at 09:50!

Even during the lecture, the presentation was downloaded twelve times. Digital natives, or digital dodgers who were not at the lecture? Well at least one was at the lecture as he emailed me to tell me what he had done and to direct me to the blog he created while listening to Ewan explaining about the value of blogs! (To Blog, or not to blog...) To really nail his digital native credentials, he should now show me the electronic annotations he made on the presentation he downloaded. :-)

Please go to Chis's blog and give him some encouraging comments. Why not suggest some things he could blog about.

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Chris said...

Is this a new horror - do students not take notes at lectures any more? I always felt that the way to get really into a subject was to make notes during a lecture, then write them up in such a way that they would make sense at a later date. I know I'm a dinosaur - but I tried to make my Higher students do the same. It was rare for me to give them a handout - I found they just filed them away as if the mere possession of such riches would ensure their success. Besides - what happens if you are inspired and want to deviate from the script?

Ewan McIntosh said...

I've managed to post a tentative first vodcast of the Jordanhill presentation on Not perfect, but at least it's available for students at home:

David said...

Hello Chris

I make my presentations available - basically a set of bullet points and the occassional web address. I suspect that they are really only useful for jogging people's memory if they are not combined with the student's own notes about what I said. I can see however that it would be useful to annotate a printout of the presentation rather than have to describe or note down the stuff displayed. Certainly I hated it when lecturers gave you a copy of their notes and then proceeded to read them to you. Bah! It is stuff like that which got (gets?) Jordanhill a bad name. I hope to post a copy of my lecture here very soon when I describe what I did/said on Friday. You can judge for yourself then how useful such "notes" are before, during or after a lecture.

As for deviating from the script - that's my major problem. If it wasn't for the presentation pulling me back to what I was supposed to be talking about I suspect I wouldn't be any where near script!

Hello Ewan

Thanks for posting this. Various students have already given me positive comments about it and I notice that at least one of our students has already left a comment on your blog. He complains that the videos of Jordanhill lectures can't be viewed off campus... well I have some news about that which I'll share in my next blog entry. (Hopefully later tonight or at worst some time tomorrow... but don't hold your breath!)