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Live Lecture Versus Video-Recorded Lecture: Are Students Voting With Their Feet?

Cardall, Scott; Krupat, Edward PhD; Ulrich, Michael

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31818c6902
Technology and Medical Education

Purpose: In light of educators’ concerns that lecture attendance in medical school has declined, the authors sought to assess students’ perceptions, evaluations, and motivations concerning live lectures compared with accelerated, video-recorded lectures viewed online.

Method: The authors performed a cross-sectional survey study of all first- and second-year students at Harvard Medical School. Respondents answered questions regarding their lecture attendance; use of class and personal time; use of accelerated, video-recorded lectures; and reasons for viewing video-recorded and live lectures. Other questions asked students to compare how well live and video-recorded lectures satisfied learning goals.

Results: Of the 353 students who received questionnaires, 204 (58%) returned responses. Collectively, students indicated watching 57.2% of lectures live, 29.4% recorded, and 3.8% using both methods. All students have watched recorded lectures, and most (88.5%) have used video-accelerating technologies. When using accelerated, video-recorded lecture as opposed to attending lecture, students felt they were more likely to increase their speed of knowledge acquisition (79.3% of students), look up additional information (67.7%), stay focused (64.8%), and learn more (63.7%).

Conclusions: Live attendance remains the predominant method for viewing lectures. However, students find accelerated, video-recorded lectures equally or more valuable. Although educators may be uncomfortable with the fundamental change in the learning process represented by video-recorded lecture use, students’ responses indicate that their decisions to attend lectures or view recorded lectures are motivated primarily by a desire to satisfy their professional goals. A challenge remains for educators to incorporate technologies students find useful while creating an interactive learning culture.

Mr. Cardall is a doctoral candidate, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. Krupat is director, Center for Evaluation, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, and associate professor of psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.

Mr. Ulrich is a graduate student, Department of Statistics, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

Correspondence should be addressed to Mr. Cardall, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, 188 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115; telephone: (801) 372-7717; fax: (617) 734-5224; e-mail: (scott_cardall@hsdm.harvard.edu).

© 2008 Association of American Medical Colleges