Web site links iPods to courses

Derek Lenehan

Pick-a-Prof releases CourseCast for professors to post lectures online


Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Sunday iPod playlist: Fall Out Boy, Fall Out Boy, The Kinks, some Jessica Simpson that you will never acknowledge listening to, your economics professor’s lecture from last week, and more Fall Out Boy.

Impossible? Not anymore. Pick-a-Prof, a company that provides academic services to both students and professors, released CourseCast, a service that will allow professors to record their lectures, post them online and be downloaded by students.

CourseCasting was tested at the University of Texas and Texas A&M last semester with positive reviews from students and professors, according to Karen Bragg, Pick-a-Prof’s director of university relations.

The company developed a simple way of posting the recordings, Bragg said, and most professors had success with it.

“We chose professors that were admittedly bad with technology,” she said.

Pick-a-Prof also offers other services, including book exchange for students to buy and sell from other students, reported grading patterns from professors, message boards for students in the same class, and anonymous student reviews of professors.

“We don’t accept profanity or personal attacks on professors, but we do post negative reviews,” Bragg said.

Jamie Sutton of Pick-a-Prof’s University Marketing, said CourseCast was launched at Kent State two weeks ago. However, no professors have utilized it yet.

“There is interest for this in schools,” she said. “Some universities were doing this sort of thing before we started introducing it.”

Pick-a-Prof has introduced the CourseCast program to “just over 130 schools,” Sutton said.

Josef Knott, director of the School of Music, expressed a desire to try the new program.

“It’s something we would want to consider,” he said, referring to himself and the faculty.

Knott did not feel student attendance would decrease with the chance to download course materials at any time.

“Early reports I’ve read across the country from schools that have tried this have been contrary to that. They found that attendance hadn’t really dropped off. Students come to class and can replay the lecture at their leisure. They also found that students able to replay lectures were able to fill in gaps in note taking,” he said.

Contrary to Knott’s decision, Alison Fletcher, professor of history, said that she would not use the program.

“I wouldn’t put my lectures up,” she said. “I try to do an awful lot of discussion, and I wouldn’t want students to think that lectures were all the class was about.”

Contact academic affairs reporter Derek Lenehan at [email protected].