Throughout your time at La Trobe, you will undoubtedly hear many times “the lecture will be on the LMS”. This is usually quickly followed by “but it’s much better to be in class”. As the semester goes on, the numbers in most lectures gradually drops. Sometimes it only falls to 80%. Sometimes to less than 50%.
But what does this mean? Through the semester, are an increasing number of people discovering the joys of listening to a lecture online? Possibly more likely, people decide not to attend class with the thought that they can just listen to it whenever they want. It’s easy to put off making the commute to La Trobe with the rationale that you can do the learning anytime you want.
The issue is that for most people, the lecture gets ignored indefinitely. Just listening online is so simple that the weight of what it actually entails is lost. Having it so readily available and accessible means that it doesn’t seem like a vital educational tool. At best, it seems like a chore. At worst, it seems unnecessary or redundant. A friend of mine, Nop Songsangkhan asked me “What’s the point of going all the way to La Trobe when I can listen to it at home? At least there I can be comfortable and do whatever I want.”
Perhaps this is the reason that lecturers and tutors are always saying it is better to be in the lecture theatre. This ‘comfort’ and ability to be in a personal environment where one can do whatever they want is, potentially, a poor way to learn. It diminishes the importance of learning and provides ample distraction.
Of course, for many people, Echo 360 is a godsend. It gives busy people the chance to catch up on something they’ve missed, and an easy way to revise for assignments and exams. It’s a great tool, it’s just a question of how it is used. Many class quizzes I have taken in tutorials are now based upon the lectures, trying to keep students honest. However, if people fail or do poorly on said quizzes because they haven’t attended the lecture is anything really gained or lost? The people that attended the lectures will do well, the people that didn’t listen to them will not. It’s almost the same as just taking attendance.
Echo 360 is a great tool and helpful to many people, but nothing can compare to actually being in the room.
By James Wallace