I assume every one (at least those who are of some age) remember the gramophone label “His Masters Voice”. I`m not sure if students listen as closely as that dog to the voice of their lecturers, but it`s probably a nice change of the great and boring mass of text that Distance Education materials (including my own) usually consists of.
Taking a quick look on what various higher education institutions have done with their systems for Distance Education, does not make one a firm believer in the educational systems ability to change old ways of thinking and explore new (or old, depending on your historical and pedagogical view and knowledge) ways of teaching.
This is not to say that text is old fashioned and should be given up. On the contrary! But perhaps it`s time to try and reach the students mind through their ears as well as their eyes?
Like my colleague Tom Erik Holteng I use Audacity to produce mp3 files with short lectures, both in Norwegian and in English. Moodle has its own mp3 player embedded, and by using a bit of HTML-code you may bring that player to the forefront, behind the link to the mp3 file. Be aware that there seems to be some sort of limit to the size of the sound file, so if you`re fond of talking the player will cut your last sentences. I haven’t been able yet to determine what the limit are but a good podcast should perhaps only last for 10 – 15 minutes, just as a good lecture should.
Video lectures are something else I`ve tried, and there are several different software you may use together with a good web camera. Again you have to make them short and not to high in quality, since Moodle has a limit on the size of the files you upload.
When my distant students are asked what they think of using audio and video lectures, they respond positively. As one said “I get tired of reading all that text, so it`s good to be able to just listen and watch. And it makes me feel like being in live contact with the lecturer.”