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Time Warping Education

September 2013


At the 10th Annual Sloan-C Conference on Blended Learning in July, I was awarded Best In Track in the "Teaching and Learning" track for my presentation, "Time Warping Education: A Blended-Learning Business Statistics Course Example."

My presentation focused on the issue of the growing movement in education toward blended-learning and online courses and the challenge to provide equivalent course content within these formats. I believe that by creatively using a variety of digital technologies, such as videos, email, and appropriate elements of a course management system, "class time" can be manipulated, thereby increasing educational content and quality. This manipulation of time is what I refer to as "time-warping."

I advocate the asynchronous learning model. In this model, students are not required to be at any particular place or in any particular time to access course materials. Students can study when they are most prepared to learn, such as in the evening or when they are not disturbed by social activities or family obligations. Asynchronous delivery, along with providing course materials in a convenient form (easily obtained with a computer or mobile device), can make learning more efficient. The challenge is to design a course that utilizes the appropriate technologies that can manipulate time to the advantage of both the student and the instructor. In my presentation, I described a number of techniques used to "warp" time, with a particular focus on video.

Video is one of the most powerful educational media. Consider what happens when you watch a movie on television or at the movie theater. Through careful editing, content that spans a lifetime or more is delivered in the span of a couple hours. The film producer has spent many hours of real-time activity and compressed this into several viewable hours. Also, the movie can be viewed anytime. Why not use this technique in education? I believe that when the educator becomes a "producer" by carefully creating lecture videos, time can be manipulated in such a way that the consumer (i.e., students), unaware of time manipulation, learns the course content and enjoys doing so. For example, a lecture that took 75 minutes to deliver in the classroom often becomes a 20-minute video.

I do not believe that "lecture-capture" or "webinar" technologies hold the same potential for education as carefully edited videos. Webinars do save travel time, but they do not shift or compress time. In fact, webinars often use time less efficiently because of technology difficulties. Likewise, lecture-captured videos do not compress time, and they capture all of the inefficiencies of the real-time lecture. The human brain is capable of absorbing knowledge faster than real time. Using my methods, time can be both shifted, compressed, frozen, and advanced.

I am most excited about the potential for mobile devices because these devices can provide education anywhere and anytime. Students are able to "study" during times that they are doing nothing else (like waiting for a plane). I have redesigned my course management system and my webpages to be easily viewable on these devices.

Student feedback has been very positive. I believe that these blended-learning courses are better than anything I was ever able to deliver in normal face-to-face courses. You can view some of my lectures on the iTunes store. My presentation (plus more) that also demonstrates my technique can be viewed at http://www.rjerz.com/v/rjPlayer/rjPlayer.html?crs=time.

Dr. Rick Jerz is a Professor in the Finance, Economics, and Decision Sciences Department

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