I have started teaching a class at George Mason called Economics and the Citizen

It’s been over 20 years since I taught at a college level, and I feel like Rip Van Winkle. After the first class, I was given quick tutorial on the technology in the room. I was struck by the sound coming from the computer through the speakers.

I decided to type my lecture notes (the stuff I might scribble on the board) onto a web page, and then record what I would say using an Olympus DS-330 digital recorder, which I bought a while back because Zack Lynch said it was cool.

I put the audio onto the web page. At that point it occurred to me that if I put the web page up and played the audio, then anybody could stand up in class, move their lips, and pretend to give the lecture. I put up a graphic of Pacey from Dawson’s Creek on the page, so now it sort of looks like he’s giving the lecture.

In addition to being better-looking than I am, Pacey has neater handwriting–he doesn’t scrawl all over the board. Also, Pacey will come into the student’s room and give the lecture on the student’s computer. If the student spaces out for a minute, he or she can rewind Pacey, and Pacey will repeat himself.

Pacey will not get stuck in traffic, or sick, or snowbound. Shouldn’t Pacey teach the course instead of me?

Go to this page and let me know what you think. It’s a bit of a process getting Pacey to work, because the proprietary format of the digital voice recorder seems to confuse Internet Explorer unless you’re very careful about things. But other file formats are cumbersome (e.g., the huge .wav file at the bottom, which only gets about 1/4 of the way through the lecture).

For Discussion. Is this a plausible way to implement distance learning?