Thursday, April 27, 2006

Cranking up lectures on campus

MIAMI - Stroll onto any college campus and you'll see iPods galore.

But while many students are no doubt cranking Arctic Monkeys, just as many are listening to podcasts of lectures or specially designed video "vodcasts" of supplemental classroom material.

It's education gone high-tech. In fact, to be a professor one must be increasingly tech savvy.

Consider Dr. Ron Clark, the coordinator of the neuroscience module for the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine.

Among the first to take advantage of the new technology, Clark has developed a number of vodcasts by mixing voice, animation and live action to detail the brain and visual system.

"I teach about the brain and we learn in different ways," said Clark, who adds background music to his vodcasts. "Some students love to read primarily. Some are good with audio. Some with video. This has both and images are important on the national board exams for students."

Repetition reinforces learning.

"If this is something they can go over in less time and review a whole subject matter several times it should be advantageous," he said.

University of Miami first year medical student Michael Gombosh, 27, thinks it is.

"You can download to your iPod to watch in a car or while on the Metrorail or take to the gym and watch over there while on breaks," Gombosh said.

"Dr. Clark has taken a 50-minute material lecture and condensed it down to the most important things in a 15-minute segment. It's a lot faster-paced; you get hammered home the most important things."

Second year med student Samantha Xavier, 24, nods. Podcasts, which are also available on regular computers for students lacking iPods, help her retain what she heard in class.

Instead of scribbling notes, she can pay attention in class, interact with fellow medical students and the instructor, and then pick pertinent auditory information off her iPod.

"When you have a quick question I can just go to that lecture (on the iPod) and go to that point," she said.

"I wish I had the video now."

Vodcasts for second-year students is coming shortly — probably next semester, said Ryan Bard, UM's Web systems developer.

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