Recorded lectures take on new risk as blogger ‘goes after teachers’

“Schools and other institutions understandably have a strong interest in taking prompt action to address outstanding problems, but incidents like the Shirley Sherrod case show the dangers of jumping the gun, especially when there are unscrupulous actors seeking to distort the truth,” Halperin said.

Breitbart also pushed spliced video of employees from the community group ACORN telling an undercover actor posing as a pimp how to launder earnings from prostitutes. The edited videos went viral and prompted Congress to defund ACORN in the face of a fierce public backlash against the nonprofit group.

Breitbart, in a March 15 interview with the online publication Slate, said he has a penchant for piecing together narratives for news consumption.

“I have a very good memory. I’m also good at connecting things together,” he told Slate. “That allowed me to make outrageous cockamamie narratives. To be able to apply that to the news world, that was it.”

In a recent Fox News Channel interview, Breitbart said his Big Government site is powered by a “citizen journalism revolution” that would now target educators.

“We’re going to take on education next, go after the teachers and the union organizers,” he said.

The threat of lecture video used against professors teaching controversial subjects comes just months after a survey showed how popular recorded lectures have become in higher education.

Nine in 10 students surveyed at the University of Massachusetts’ Lowell campus said video lectures posted online helped them better learn the class material, and 96 percent said they wanted video lecture available for more classes.

Students who watched the video lecture and took notes, according to 2009 research on lecture podcasts, scored an average of 15 points higher than their peers who did not.

Jacqueline Moloney, executive vice chancellor and head of online learning at UMass Lowell, said the ability to review parts of lengthy lectures while studying for exams has become preferable to relying on speedy note taking.

“You lose a lot of what the faculty is trying to teach you when you focus more on transcribing,” she said. “With [lecture capture], students don’t feel nearly the pressure to take down every word.”