Robert Capps wrote an intriguing article, The Good Enough Revolution: When Cheap and Simple is Just Fine (Wired Magazine, Aug. 24, 2009), where he cites examples in the market place where consumers are choosing the "good enough" over higher-quality alternatives. Consider the popularity of MP3, YouTube, Skype, Flip video camera, and Google Apps.
How does this relate to education? Lecture capture has been generating a lot of buzz as online programs seek to deliver content via the web. Sophisticated (and expensive) systems are on the market that record everything that a professor delivers in the classroom. High-end video editing tools can produce an impressive end product.
For Taylor's online program we have experimented with high-quality lecture videos, setting up studio conditions and investing hours of time filming and editing. What we're discovering, however, is that a simple webcam and tools such as Camtasia (inexpensive) and Movie Maker (free) might just be "good enough". Such low-budget videos are: 1) quick to produce, and instructors can do much of the work on their own, 2) ideal for a 6-10 minute mini lesson*, 3) small in size and easy on bandwidth, 4) of sufficient quality to satisfy the YouTube generation (as long as audio is clear and slides can be read), and 5) easy to update in courses that require semester to semester tweaking.
*We need to get away from the idea of posting 50-minute lectures online. Students have difficulty engaging in an hour long face-to-face classroom lecture. How long do you suppose they will sit in front of their computer watching a long lecture before their cell phone comes out and they open up Facebook? (How many of us watch an hour-long online webinar without checking our email?)