Purpose: In light of educators' concerns that lecture attendance in medical school has declined, the authors sought to assess students' perceptions, evaluations, and motivations concerning live lectures compared with accelerated, video-recorded lectures viewed online.
Method: The authors performed a cross-sectional survey study of all first- and second-year students at Harvard Medical School. Respondents answered questions regarding their lecture attendance; use of class and personal time; use of accelerated, video-recorded lectures; and reasons for viewing video-recorded and live lectures. Other questions asked students to compare how well live and video-recorded lectures satisfied learning goals.
Results: Of the 353 students who received questionnaires, 204 (58%) returned responses. Collectively, students indicated watching 57.2% of lectures live, 29.4% recorded, and 3.8% using both methods. All students have watched recorded lectures, and most (88.5%) have used video-accelerating technologies. When using accelerated, video-recorded lecture as opposed to attending lecture, students felt they were more likely to increase their speed of knowledge acquisition (79.3% of students), look up additional information (67.7%), stay focused (64.8%), and learn more (63.7%).
Conclusions: Live attendance remains the predominant method for viewing lectures. However, students find accelerated, video-recorded lectures equally or more valuable. Although educators may be uncomfortable with the fundamental change in the learning process represented by video-recorded lecture use, students' responses indicate that their decisions to attend lectures or view recorded lectures are motivated primarily by a desire to satisfy their professional goals. A challenge remains for educators to incorporate technologies students find useful while creating an interactive learning culture.