One Woman Academy

November 19, 2009

Online Lectures

      One of the great things about going to a private university is that I can develop close bonds with my professors. Many of my favorite professors have given me great advice about classes, internships, and some of the best advice I’ve ever received on life. A recent conversation I had with a close friend with professor involved the evolution of coyotes in Northeastern North America versus their Southwestern counterparts, our differing views on great presidents, the trend of student opinion, and when you know you’ve found the one. Along the way we spoke about my interest in working for government agencies and where I eventually see myself ending up, but I enjoy a friendship not as a readily available than at a large public university. Humanizing yourself to your professor isn’t just about making yourself more curve-friendly come grading period, but the friendships you make that can grow and last a lifetime.
      But even my most favorite professors get tied up in their own lives and I find myself resisting stupid Facebook application games (my roommates are obsessed with the phenomena known as “Farmville”). Boredom is a consistent predator hunting for the ever elusive “free time”. My eBay addiction is bad enough, let alone Twitter and Facebook. 
      But there is a shining a light! A hope beyond the tunnel of useless Facebook applications and humor sites employing the crudest of charms! The Chronicle for Higher Education reports that PBS and NPR are posting taped interviews and lectures on a site called Forum Network, similar to the pretty excellent YouTube EDU. From the sampling so far, I am most interested in Northeastern professor Nicholas Daniloff’s discussion on the difficulties of reporting in Russia, entitled “Of Spies and Spokesman: The Challenge of Russia”. Turn it in a book and we have the next Jason Bourne series. Except, you know, legitimate.
      As someone who regularly speaks to professors unencumbered by the typical social awkwardness that students develop towards their instructors, these free lectures are like candy. However, I seriously doubt that the average student is going to look at these lectures very much at all. If we want these free lecture services to succeed, professors should use them as study/lecture aides. One of my political science professors loves using videos in his lectures, to the great delight of the densely packed lecture hall. Students could cite them in papers, presentations, and discussion sections. If other professors are the only people looking at this veritable treasure trove, I say that’s a shame. Teachers have just as much to offer students as they do their peers, who in turn should promote the work of their colleagues to their pupils. Just a bit of student opinion there.
      Aren’t you tired of reading dull term papers citing at least 5 of the same textbooks?

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