Professor John Munro passed away on December 23, 2013. This site is maintained and kept online as an archive. For more infomation please visit the Centre for Medieval Studies
Prof. John H. Munro
Department of Economics
University of Toronto
Updated on 21 August 2008
NOTICE: THE ONLINE LECTURE NOTES SHOULD BE USED ONLY AS SUPPLEMENTS TO THE ACTUAL LECTURES: NOT AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR THEM
Please read this notice with care, if you wish to pass this course, or rather at least pass the final examination.
- In my many years of experience, in posting my lectures online -- which certainly involves tradeoffs -- I have found that many students make the grave error of skipping classes, believing that
they can learn the material just as well by reading the lectures on-line. Many and sometime most who do so end up failing the final examination.
- The online lectures, so posted, can be a useful supplement; but they are not a substitute for the actual verbal lectures given in class.
Unless students come to class, to hear the lectures, most fail to understand properly the lecture materials:
this is, unless students come to class (regulararly) in order to hear me speak, to comprehend my emphases (both in words and hand gestures),
to see the overheads, to hear and/or respond to questions, to understand the emphases given to particular topics. We learn both by hearing and reading -- and also by discussing issues in class.
- Most of those students who skip class, for this reason, i.e., believing that reading the online lectures is sufficient, end up waiting too long to read the lectures:
and then they cannot possibly comprehend and put together the vast amount of the lecture materials, covering many hundreds of pages.
- To use the online lectures properly, read them only after the lecture, but within the same week, and focus only on those aspects of the lecture that you did not fully understand in class.
- At the same time, you should also read those portions of the lecture that, for reasons of limited time, I was unable to give (verbally) in class.
- If your native language is not English, you should benefit even more from reading these lectures online, in order to comprehend strange words and unfamiliar concepts.
- Economics and economic history are fundamentally quantitive in nature; and you should never trust my lectures or any of the assigned readings (published materials)
without examining the statistical evidence: provided here in
both tables and in colour graphs, in almost all lectures.
- Another advantage of having the lectures posted online is that you should not have to take so many notes: it is better to listen carefully, view the overheads, and take only a few notes,
on the most important issues. You can always make more extensive notes in reading the lectures online.
- For many or indeed most students, the major advantage of the online lectures will be in preparing their two (or three) term essays, as well as, of course, in preparing for the voluntary
mid-year test in January, and the obligatory final examination in April or early May.
- My online lecture notes as the textbook for this course: Finally, I should note that, since there are no prescribed textbooks for this course, you should therefore consider the online
lectures note as the effective textook for ECO 303Y. Of course, a major difference between these online notes and a textbook is that you cannot read these notes ahead of time (for the reasons given
above), as you could a textbook. On the other hand, you can read ahead of time the prescribed readings for the A-List essay topics (in the course reader package), though many of the readings are
not directly related to the lectures.
- For further considerations of these issues -- the tradeoffs involved in having online lectures -- go to this web site.
This document is in two parts.
- The first section is a transcript of an 'op ed' piece written
by a first-year Ontario university student, and published in the Toronto Star, this past 19 June 2008. The most interesting
or provocative line is: ‘The classes I found most relevant and most enjoyed had little or no reliance on the Internet for class notes.' That raises the
interesting question: 'If what this student states is valid, should we university professors post our lectures online?'
- The second part of this document is
my response his key points: in offering a justitication for my publishing my lectures online, in my format -- and only after the lectures have been given verbally in class.
I would welcome ant feedback on this issue, especially from students who have taken my economic history courses last year, or in past years.
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