Lectures in the palm of your hand

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Using smartphones to view lectures is a fast growing trend in North American universities, but will Ryerson take the plunge for portable classes? Venus Mosadeq reports

Imagine waking up, grabbing your phone and notebook, and tuning into a lecture without leaving your bed.

Sonic Foundry recently developed the Mediasite 6 Lecture Capture, an alternative for students to watch their lectures through their cellular phones and without having to worry about missing classes.

Sean Brown, VP of education at Sonic Foundry, considers it a fast growing trend amongst universities in North America and internationally.

The equipment is costly at around $15,000 per classroom, but Brown said, “it opens up even more opportunities for students to view classes wherever there is Wifi.”

Farbod Afshar, a first-year electrical engineering student at Ryerson, has a three hour daily commute.

“This is definitely something that I would be interested in seeing as I spend so much time commuting.” he said. “It’s frustrating.”

The new technology could boost Ryerson’s number of applicants because it could put the university at an advantage with an alternative learning strategy.

Ryerson is ahead of the game with Ryecast; online real-time and on-demand lecture broadcasts.

It’s similar to Lecture Capture and uses portable equipment that can be set up in different classrooms to capture lectures, seminars and presentations.

But it’s a service that must be booked ahead of time for use, as it’s not installed in every classroom.

Jim Buchanan, the assistant director of client services at Ryerson said, “We are always working at improving Ryecast and adding more capabilities to the platform.”

A survey from the University of Wisconsin indicated that students preferred Lecture Capture. It reported that the service was “the most valuable instruction technology that the school has provided.”

“It accommodates busy lives… [students juggle] economic demands, family demands and academic demands more the any other generation before them,” said Brown. “It’s a guarantee they will have the time for the instruction they have paid for.”

Mamun Jeddi, a third-year engineering student, who doesn’t own a smart phone, doesn’t feel like he’d benefit.

“I might get a little lazy, I wouldn’t even show up to school and it would probably take away from my whole university experience,” he said.

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