Thursday, December 20, 2007

71 year old physics prof is a web star

And yet another reason for university faculty to podcast and get their stuff out to the masses. "Walter H. G. Lewin, 71, a physics professor, has long had a cult following at M.I.T. And he has now emerged as an international Internet guru, thanks to the global classroom the institute created to spread knowledge through cyberspace." Prof. Walter H. G. Lewin was No. 1 on the most downloaded list at iTunes U for a while, with objects he uses for his physics lessons.

Here is a good example of a great teacher taking advantage of the technology experts available to him to communicate and educate people all over the world. Some faculty fear the idea of having to keep up with the latest technology and are worried that as soon as they "get it", "it" will be come obsolete. The flaw with this way of thinking is that they don't have to have a PhD in technology and education to move into the information age. That is a field in and of itself. There are departments at universities dedicated to studying and implementing technology for instructors, thus making the technology virtually invisible to the faculty so that they can focus on the subject at hand. Faculty are the subject matter experts. Does anyone think that Dr. Walter H.G. Lewin was responsible for recording, optimizing, and uploading his podcasts? What about choosing the compression codecs? Or what system they chose to use for podcasting? Probably not. He is a great "physics" professor and relies on a team to assist him with the technology. Now of course there are faculty who love technology and want to know how everything works, but what makes it all come together is team work between the Instructional Designers, Multimedia Experts, and the Subject Matter Experts. Congrats to Dr. Walter H. G. Lewin for using the resources available to him at M.I.T. to make his lectures available world-wide. Check out the article in the NY Times about Dr. Lewin

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