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Thesis: We should regard online presentations as adding to (rather than replacing) live presentations.

The best evidence I know in favor of this thesis is the continuing - I would say, growing - enthusiasm in the world of science and technology outreach for live, face-to-face presentations, alongside broadcast, podcast, videocast and other digital media. Increasingly, audiences will volunteer (and even pay good money) for the chance to attend a live lecture, panel discussion, or seminar-style deliberation with one or more distinguished experts. (You doubt this? Just go to any of the websites of the science festivals that are currently popping up all across the U.S. - including our own Cambridge Science Festival! - and take a look at what is being offered today by way of live, researcher-led presentations!)

MIT is full of distinguished experts, and there will always be demand for the chance to attend a live lecture or presentation from these people. Quite apart from anything else, the live experience is more vivid, and hence more memorable; and of course it may give the chance to ask a question or challenge an assertion in real-time.

So...I see no prospect that the live academic performance will disappear any time soon; on the contrary, I think it will continue to be the highest quality offering amid an increasing number of other, less lively but nonetheless valuable options.

John Durant
Director, MIT Museum
Adjunct Professor, STS Program
Executive Director, Cambridge Science Festival

Education & Facilities, Educational experiences, Live, online lectures