Economics Lectures Recorded, Reviewed with iPods

Economics professor Lori Leachman gave her students an extra aid to achieve “basic economic literacy” in one semester: audio recordings of her lectures, which she made with an iPod. Before exams, students accessed the lecture recordings and reviewed them on their computers or iPods. The students who used the lecture recordings had different methods and reasons for using them. “It is helpful when I know I missed something,” freshman Allison Kenney said about listening to a few of the lectures before exams.

When exchange-student Max Kroiss reviewed the lectures on his computer or iPod, he said, “I am reassured the notes I took are correct.”

Some students used their iPods to make their own recordings of the lectures. A preliminary survey of a portion of the class by Duke’s Center for Instructional Technology indicated that approximately half the students in the class listened to a recording they, or a classmate, made.“I’ve been sick one day,” said Lara Jones, “so I sent my iPod along [to class] and someone recorded the lecture, which is really convenient.” In turn, Jones made a recording of a recent lecture for an absent classmate.

Because the lecture recordings were not meant to substitute for attending class, Leachman used a method that discourages skipping class (it’s at the early hour of 8:30 a.m.!). She didn’t post her lecture audio on the course’s Web site, which also had the graphs and diagrams presented, until a week before an exam. “Who wants to listen to fifteen hours of lecture right before an exam?” she said.

The logistics for making the recordings were simple, Leachman says. She just set her iPod on her podium and started it recording. Leachman emphasized that the iPod “is an accessory to the learning process.”

Freshman Rachel Shack agreed. She has listened to a couple recordings for review, but said, “My notes from lecture are always the most important thing I use in studying.”