1999 Paper Presentations
THE PRACTICAL ASPECTS OF USING AUDIOTAPED LECTURES IN ONLINE COURSES
Sharon H. Garrison, Florida Gulf Coast University <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Michael Garrison, Florida Gulf Coast University <email@example.com>
Distance classes may be enhanced by the addition of supplementary materials. This paper describes how distance classes in finance were improved by providing online access to audiotaped lect ures on special topics. Some suggestions for implementation are included.
Teaching finance in a university environment is never an easy task. Finance as a discipline relies heavily on theoretical concepts, wh ich must somehow be imparted to students, and also on techniques and applications of those techniques. Many students experience difficulties in mastering both the concepts and techniques, often because their math backgrounds are somewhat lacking. Anotherd ifficulty encountered in teaching finance is that the field of finance changes rapidly as market conditions change. At Florida Gulf Coast University, there are even greater challenges to be overcome. Many of the students at Florida Gulf Coast University c ome from a variety of backgrounds. Some are quite skilled in math and in accounting principles, yet some are lacking in these backgrounds.
Florida Gulf Coast University, the tenth university in the state university system, opened its doors in Augu st, 1997. As part of the mission of the university, innovative teaching techniques and utilization of technology were encouraged. The Finance Department in the College of Business supported this mission.
Each co urse at Florida Gulf Coast University must have a Web presence, even if the page is nothing more than the syllabus for the course. However, in finance, the Web is viewed as an excellent way of enhancing student learning. The pages have somewhat evolved si nce the opening of Florida Gulf Coast University, with the intent of continually offering more to students who wish to understand the concepts of finance.
The page for the courses offered by Sharon Garrison at Florida Gulf Coast University are sho wn at:
The page has links to the individual courses taught by Dr. Garrison, but the first page contains general information that applies to all students in finance. In particular, there are a number of the important topics in finance that have "topic overviews." The topic overviews explain concepts and techniques in simple terms and serve to supplement textbook explanations of those topics. Also included are tutorials on how to se t up financial spreadsheets and how to use spreadsheets in specialized finance applications. Different versions of these materials have appeared on the page since the university opened, but the objective is to continually augment and enhance these materia ls. None of these materials is a student requirement, rather they are there to assist the students. Any use of the materials is strictly voluntary.
Each semester of distance teaching increasingly made it clear that a wide variety of media is necessary to effectively deliver course material. The audiotaped lectures resulted from numerous student requests for tapes of inclass lectures. The sheer number of requests made it difficult to keep up with the pr ocedural aspects of teaching distance courses. Eventually, it was decided that audiotaped lectures would be included on the Web page. An example of the lectures is shown on the course Web page. One of the more extensive audiotaped lectures is the lecture on time value of money. The time value of money lecture may be seen at:
Time value of money involves the learning of some specialized techniques. Often these techniques are difficult to deliver in a distance format. The audiotaped lectures enhance the learning of these techniques. In designing the lectures, there were several issues to be addressed.
One of the procedural issues to be addressed was just how the lectures would be taped. At first, actual course lectures were taped. However, this left some time gaps in tapes as visuals in the presentation were chan ged, etc. Also, background noise was always evident on the tapes. Eventually, it was decided that the lecture material would be "read" at one sitting. This resulted in longer preparation time, but in tapes that took less time for students to hear.
The next question to answer was how many lectures to tape. It was decided that rather than taping all lectures, only the more difficult lectures would be taped. Some topics are fairly easy to explain and students could grasp the concepts just be reading the materials. So only the more difficult lectures would have the additional interface of the audiotapes.
Another design consideration had to do with the accompanying visuals. Rather than have a slideshow where the slides and tapes were "fixed," i t was decided that it would be better to let the students control the visuals. They could listen to the tapes, but flip back and forth in the slides if they chose. Also, they could flip between problems that they were working on and the explanatory slides . This was a difficult task, but student feedback has shown that this was a wise decision.
One requisite of whatever is included on the student Web page is ease of use. Also it is important to have a guide to what students should do in case they r un into difficulties. A great deal of time was spent designing explanations of how students should use the audiotaped lectures and what to do if they ran into certain difficulties.
The audiotaped lectures have onl y been on the page one semester, yet they have proved to be quite beneficial. Student feedback has been quite positive. Students say that they utilize the lectures in various ways. Some say they listen to them over and over again until they master the con cepts. Others say they just skip straight to any trouble area they might be having, listen to the relevant material, then move on to something else. Some say they just play them as background while they're doing other things and pick up bits and pieces of the materials as they do so.
The lectures have also served as giving students in advanced classes a quick review over materials they may need to bring them up to speed for the new course. Also, the lectures have been a selling point for students who may be unsure whether they want to take a course over these topics or not. This gives them a way to preview the materials on their own time. All in all, the lectures took a great deal of time, but student feedback has proved that the time spent has be en worth it.
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