Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Teachers' online e-learning mocking 'fears'

Ben Grubb, writing about Teachers' online e-learning mocking 'fears' in The Sydney Morning Herald, reports that "Australian university lecturers are resisting putting recorded lectures online because they fear students will mock their off-the-cuff flubs in YouTube mashups and social networking posts". 

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Grubb goes on to say that "some academic teaching staff believe off-the-cuff comments or jokes during a lecture or tutorial could lead to a defamation action or their intellectual property being breached by students who repost uploaded university material on sites outside the university or academic teaching staff's control".

I have to say that as a very strong advocate of recording videos for students that I had not really thought that this type of thing would happen to anything I have recorded. My own College does not yet advocate the video recording of classes, but no doubt it is not that many years away. I missed one class this past year (actually this is the only class I have missed since joining the College in 2002) - I recorded the missed lecture as a podcast and asked the students to download the lecture notes and have them in front of them while they listened to the podcast. (As an aside - I note that Moodle Logs are telling me that less than a third of the class even accessed the recorded lecture. The Logs do not tell me how much this third listened to).

Based on above - it is fair to say that a fair proportion of a class will not view or listen to a recorded lecture - therefore reducing the risk of being "mocked". However, it doesn't take much skill for a student to cut a piece of a lecture out and upload it to YouTube. Whether it is a joke, a mistake, a funny incident, an accident, whatever - it is fair game for sharing on the web. It's also easy to take a video recording, remove the audio, and parody the lecturer - or even doctor or airbrush the video. 

Anything can be done with even the most basic of editing skills. But this is not a valid reason to not record and upload lectures? What are we trying to do - teach or protect ourselves? Students slag off their lecturers all the time - whether it is in the College corridors, in emails, or in the pub, a lecturer can expect to be the butt of sarcasm and jokes. One good thing that could come from this is that lecturers will have to be better prepared for class - even practising and getting the jokes right!

Deal with it!


  1. Hi Eugene,

    Nice article! I’ve been looking forward to reading your view on this topic. I agree with you to some degree. There would be definite value in seeing other lecturers at work. A college could easy identify its weak links!

    However…. What about the lecturer who uses controversial statements to encourage discussion or shock students into speaking up? In a world where your every move (as a lecturer) is recorded do we run the risk that charismatic lecturers will be afraid to push the envelope?


  2. Hi Dermot - thanks for the comment. I use the occasional "controversial statement" to get a class going. When doing a brainstorming session on "Things you can do with a coat-hanger" - I normally throw in "sex-toy" as an idea for the class to consider. It works, but I think I might be a little bit more PC if I was being recorded! E.