Software gives students flexibility to listen to lectures as many times
as needed, resulting in increased comprehension and retention.
By David Pluviose
Many a college student has had to will themselves out of bed to attend a 7 a.m. organic chemistry lecture after having spent much of the night writing a paper for another course.
Trying to scribble down notes with bleary eyes and a weary mind, many times students leave class unable to read — much less comprehend — what they have just written. For students who aren’t native English speakers, this problem is only magnified, and in frustration, many students drop out.
Now, new software from Tegrity Inc. aims to change this paradigm with technology that captures both video and audio of classroom lectures digitally. Students can access the lecture on the Internet and review it as many times as they choose at their own pace. Additionally, students can pull up the lectures via podcasts and cell phones, so they can go over what they need to learn while on the move. A pressure-free environment can be especially valuable for English as a Second Language students, who can pick up language skills while reviewing their class material.
College professors and administrators nationwide say Tegrity has done wonders for boosting student performance and retention rates for both on-campus and distance-learners. Barbara L. Russell, an assistant professor who heads the medical technology program at the Medical College of Georgia, says the software has been an asset in the classroom.
“Before we had Tegrity, our ESL students would bring the tape recorder in class and you could see them frantically trying to switch tapes in between classes. That doesn’t happen anymore for some of our ESL students,” Russell says. “I have a tendency to talk really fast in class, so they’re having to overcome the language barrier and also try to understand the very difficult material that we’re covering. [Now,] they’re able to re-watch the lectures as many times as they want to understand the more difficult concepts.”
Russell adds that almost 50 percent of her clinical laboratory science students are distance-learners, and “Tegrity has just really been a life-saver for our distance program for the faculty.” The sentiment is echoed by officials from Calhoun Community College in Decatur, Ala., who say they plan to use Tegrity to help teach their booming population of immigrant Hispanic students.
“ESL students are our fastest-growing student population. We have an increase of about 124 percent over the last two or three years,” says Jimmy Duke, the college’s distance-education coordinator and the chairman of the division of health and natural sciences. “We have considered using Tegrity in sort of an innovative way, where once you create one of these recordings, you can actually dub over the instructor’s voice. We would like to consider, for some of our courses, over-dubbing with a native Spanish speaker.”
Calhoun’s Dr. Theresa Hamilton, vice president for instruction and student services, says retention is a particular problem at Calhoun and other community colleges. Many of their commuter students have full-time jobs, families to support and a myriad of other adult responsibilities that prevent them from graduating, she says. At Calhoun, Tegrity has helped the students integrate classwork into already-hectic schedules, and take classroom lectures wherever life takes them.
“Previously, if a student would move in the 10th week of a 15-week course, you’d have to drop out of Calhoun Community College,” she says. “You can take it with you now. So, you can continue that course, not lose your time or your money. If it’s a babysitting issue, again, you have that flexibility. If it’s ‘I’m just not getting it,’ we can show them how to access it and replay and replay and replay.”
Check out Tegrity on the Internet at www.tegrity.com.
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