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Is it live or is it Memorex?

By Lisa Neal, Saul Carliner / September 2005

TYPE: OPINION
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One of the most touted benefits of synchronous learning technologies is the convenience of joining a "live" online session regardless of where participants are located. That a session can be archived for replay is stated as another distinct advantage of these technologies. Recorded seminars are now hyped as if they deliver the same experience as the live sessions---or, in some cases better, since they can be viewed at any time.

While live sessions may be viewed as less convenient, we believe they deliver significant benefits not found in recorded sessions.

Live sessions are compelling in three ways. First is that a live speaker is far more engaging---the inevitable "ums," "ahs," and pauses notwithstanding. A recorded session can be edited to remove flaws, but a live session offers authenticity. Second is that other people have joined the session and generally participants can see who else is there. Finally, participants can interact with the presenter and with each other. Even though many people don't avail themselves of this opportunity, the fact that the possibility exists shapes the learning experience.

Authenticity, presence, and interaction are not often touted as pedagogically necessary for learning and retention. However, with technology-mediated learning, these attributes, individually or collectively, often make the difference between a learner who is engaged and one who is half-listening while doing something else.

Visiting a museum to see original artwork is less convenient than viewing a reproduction, but the experience of being in a gallery with others viewing an authentic work of art is compelling and memorable in its own way. A play or concert may be improvised or flawed in contrast to a movie or audio recording, but the authenticity can make these uniquely potent experiences stay with an audience for years. A textbook can impart clear and concise wisdom, but the lack of engagement is what drives people to take courses with professors who can discuss and illuminate course readings.

This reminds us of the old advertisement for audio tape which asked: Is it live or is it Memorex? As regards online learning, it doesn't really matter whether Ella Fitzgerald's recorded voice can break a glass like the real thing. What is important are the conditions under which people learn best and retain the most.



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ADDITIONAL READING

    Saul Carliner
  1. Long Live Instructor-Led Learning
  2. Designing and developing e-learning projects
  3. Lisa Neal
  4. Do it yourself
  5. Predictions for 2004
  6. "Spot Learning"
  7. When will e-learning reach a tipping point?
  8. Q&A with Saul Carliner
  9. "Deep" thoughts
  10. The stripper and the bogus online degree
  11. Five questions...for Tom Carey
  12. Learner on the Orient Express
  13. Five (or six) questions...for Irene McAra-McWilliam
  14. How to get students to show up and learn
  15. Blended conferences
  16. Predictions for 2002
  17. Learning from e-learning
  18. Q&A with Don Norman
  19. In search of simplicity
  20. Five Questions...for Christopher Dede
  21. Want better courses?
  22. Designing usable, self-paced e-learning courses
  23. Just "DO IT"
  24. Senior service
  25. Formative evaluation
  26. Blogging to learn and learning to blog
  27. Predictions for 2007
  28. Not all the world's a stage
  29. Five questions...for Seb Schmoller
  30. Do distance and location matter in e-learning?
  31. Why do our K-12 schools remain technology-free?
  32. Degrees by mail
  33. The Value of Voice
  34. Predictions for 2006
  35. Five questions...for Shigeru Miyagawi
  36. Five questions...
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  38. Five questions...for Karl M. Kapp
  39. Music lessons
  40. Learn to apologize for fun and profit
  41. Advertising or education?
  42. Of web hits and Britney Spears
  43. Predictions for 2008
  44. Serious games for serious topics
  45. Back to the future
  46. Predictions For 2003
  47. Q&A
  48. Storytelling at a distance
  49. Talk to me
  50. Q&A with Diana Laurillard
  51. Online learning and fun
  52. Everything in moderation
  53. eLearning and fun
  54. The basics of e-learning
  55. Five Questions... for John Seely Brown
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