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