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Professor Ditches Lectures In Favor Of Podcasts

Doug Caverly
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-05-26

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Taking college courses from the comfort of home may become a reality, at least for some students. No more 8 AM lectures, no more tramping across campus through a snowstorm or in the baking heat. Not for students of Bradford University's Dr. Bill Ashraf, who has ditched traditional lectures, turning instead to podcasts.

"Some lecture classes have 250 students, so I question the effectiveness of a didactic lecture for an hour," Dr. Ashraf explained. He says that the students may now watch or listen to the virtual lectures when it is convenient to them. Dr. Ashraf believes his nontraditional lectures will be most beneficial to nontraditional students -- part-time students, distance learners, or those who must balance school with families and/or work.

The podcasts will be accessible via MP3 players, computers, and some phones. Students will be able to ask questions about Dr. Ashraf's lectures by text messaging him; the microbiology professor will answer them in his blog. Dr. Ashraf is also putting his appointment times online.

The shift to podcasts is sure to be a popular move with students. Very few, if any, should be left in the dark - ownership of a computer is, for better or worse, almost a prerequisite to a college career these days. It remains to be seen how parents will react to the change, or if even the university itself might come down against the elimination of Dr. Ashraf's traditional lectures.

It seems like a good move, though. Students will be able to listen to the lectures as many times as they please, which could be invaluable for note taking and studying. And Dr. Ashraf doesn't appear to be using this as an excuse to withdraw from his responsibilities as a teacher; he should remain available to students.

I think this qualifies as a change for the better. Let's hope other professors follow Dr. Ashraf's example.

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