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Digital Education

5 Lecture Hacks

Students often get confused and bored during lectures. With the help of technology instructors can hold students’ attention both inside and outside of the classroom with engaging videos. Here are 5 lecture capture devices that can help make instructors videos more engaging:

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Dynamic Green Screen:

  • Recording a presentation while the professor is standing in front of a whiteboard or projector can make it difficult for students to see the presentation clearly. Chromatte is a dynamic green screen which is made from a ring of LEDs that go around the camera lens. These lights can shine green or blue on the Chromatte to change the color of the background in the video. The different color helps distinguish the presentation material clearly.

Virtual Green Screen:

  • Personify is a software that inserts a video of the instructor into a PowerPoint or other online material. You will need a 3D camera, similar to an ordinary webcam, mounted on the computer. Next, the instructor will record himself with the 3D camera, and Personify automatically filters out the background so the instructor appears in front of the presentation material in the video similar to filming himself in front of a green screen. This is an easy way to insert an instructor into a learning presentation.

Lightboard:

  • Instructors often have to turn their backs on students while writing on the board, blocking the students’ view of the content on the board. The Lightboard is an illuminated 4-by-8-foot sheet of glass, which allows an instructor to write on the glass from behind using fluorescent markers, so the writing “glows” in front of the person. This helps students see what the instructor is talking about while writing rather than seeing somebody’s back write on the board. On camera the writing appears reverse, but can be digitally flipped or recorded with a mirror. The Lightboard itself costs about $2,000 for the glass frame.

Multi-Perspective Video Capture:

  • Mediasite MultiView is a great multi-perspective video capture tool that records both the instructor and the presentation material. While Chromatte, Personify and Lightboard produce a video where the instructor and presentation materials appear in the same view, Mediasite MultiView captures multiple video streams and allows students to view them side-by-side simultaneously or zoom in on one or the other.
    • This is an excellent tool for people with disabilities. For example, a student with disabilities can see an interpreter using sign language in one screen while watching the instructor’s PowerPoint slides displayed on another screen. With the help of technology students with disabilities can even zoom in to the singing to receive a closer look.

Interactive Video:

  • Instructors often don’t know if students actually understood their video lectures or if the students even watched them. With the help of eduCanon instructors can use this free tool to embed questions into online videos to create interactive lessons. As a student watches a video, it pauses wherever the instructor has embedded a question and students can’t continue watching the video until they answer the question. EduCanon helps teachers comprehend if their students understood the lecture.

For more information on this topic click here.

Videos Find Their Place In and Out of the Classroom

Videos have started to become an integral part of education and could become as important as textbooks.

The research was done by SAGE Publications out of curiosity to see the variety of perspectives on the same topic.  Elisabeth Leonard, an author at SAGE Publications, claims that she was “intrigued by the variety of reasons students had for using videos.” The study shows that, from the 1,673 students surveyed, the majority watched educational videos simply because the professor played it during class. The second most popular response was that they used the videos for help in understanding the course material.


(Photo Credit: http://www.sagepub.com/repository/binaries/pdfs/StudentsandVideo.pdf)

An interesting finding was that many students looked directly at Google and Youtube for their videos and were unaware of the resources that the library had. Students suggested that, to solve this, the library market them through the websites, social media, posters, as well as deliver specific and personalized messages rather than general ones.

As the research shows that videos are becoming more popular in the classroom, it is important to note how a video can be appealing and informative to the student so that they can get the most out of it. Researchers Greenberg and Zanetis found that there were three main factors involved in the impact of an educational video: Interactivity with content, where the student relates to the content by note taking or applying concepts; engagement, where the student becomes drawn into the video; and knowledge transfer and memory, where the student remembers and retains information.

The speakers in the video themselves is an important factor in making the video more compelling. Students stated that they didn’t like videos where speakers were monotonous, did not look at the camera, or looked nervous. All of these factors determined how long the student would watch the video. Many people are quick to judge whether they would sit through the entire video or not; most students would watch a couple minutes unless the video had all of the factors mentioned above.

Source: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/videos-find-their-place-in-and-out-of-the-classroom/56113

Creating Dual Classrooms. A Positive or a Negative in Higher Education?

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(http://www.hotcoursesabroad.com/india/blog/seven-major-advantages-online-classes/)

In most classrooms, and especially in higher-education, the students of today rely on the flexibility of their work and social life balanced around a school schedule. What’s often seen when that delicate balance is even slightly thrown off is a decline in student performance. This could range from missing classes, not turning in assignments and even dropping classes as a whole (in certain cases). What if universities began to adopt the idea of a flexible course? Meaning that classes offer both online and the in class learning experiences. Obviously this sounds exactly like the traditional “hybrid” course, however the structure for a dual classroom differs in the sense that students are allowed to switch between being in the online course to being in class from week to week, depending on what best fits their schedule. In the scope of learning technologies, this initiative could perhaps accelerate the online learning curve at major universities throughout the U.S. On the other hand it would then require professors to prepare both an online and in class course to maintain this structure. Peirce College decided to try this structure out via a pilot test and what they found was that in the flexible course “absenteeism fell from 10.2 percent to 1.4 percent” (Fabris 1). The drop in absenteeism is major, especially for teachers who rely on participation as a focal point for grading. It also gives students the ability to form school around their life and rather than vice-versa, subsequently creating more focus on the class, regardless of whether the student is in class or learning online.

While the notion of dual classes is interesting and Peirce’s example does shed a positive light on ways to decrease absenteeism, it should be noted that Peirce College is a bit of an outlier. First they specifically cater to working adult students, who typically need the flexibility offered by Peirce. Second, the professors at Peirce already offered both versions of their course online and in class, so the transition into the dual classroom wasn’t as difficult as it would be for a professor who only taught online or in class versions. Overall the purpose of this study was to see if this allowed students more flexibility, while also proving beneficial to classroom focus, and while that was successful it is also imperative to think of how successful this would be at other campuses across the nation.

Source: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/online-or-in-person-one-college-lets-students-switch-back-and-forth/56265

As High-Tech Teaching Catches On, Students With Disabilities Can Be Left Behind

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Credit to James F Clay

 

In our digital day and age learning is an opportunity granted to almost everyone. The internet has given us a medium of information transfer that can touch millions of people, anyone can learn anything now. These advancements in learning have been adapted to the college classroom in many ways as well–teachers will use videos, PDF documents of texts, as well as devices like Clickers to further their student’s understanding of the topics addressed in class.

But this can prove to be a difficult feat for those who are disabled.

In an article on the Chronicle of Higher Education, by Casey Fabris, the issues of discrimination against those with disabilities in the classroom is examined.

Students who are blind or deaf are having difficulty gaining access to resources that are offered to their other classmates. One instance of this is the flipped classroom model that many classes are adapting, assigning students videos to watch or texts to read outside of class then coming prepared to discuss them. Unfortunately closed captioning on all videos is only just starting to emerge. Many people are making an effort on sites like YouTube to close caption their videos, but sadly most still aren’t. This leaves behind students who have disabilities, and in some cases professors just excuse them from the assignment, leaving them out of a great learning opportunity.

There have been numerous lawsuits against Universities who have failed to supply their students with proper materials to perform their duties in class. Things like PDF documents being incompatible with their reading software, videos without closed captioning, and the lag time between translation of questions and students using clickers have all been issues that people with disabilities have to deal with.

This is an issue that continues to plague many campuses, sadly leaving many students behind. Many universities are fighting back against this, doing everything they can to accommodate those who need help, but the issue still persists. There needs to be more of an effort to include everyone in classroom activities, and one good way to start would be to spread the word of this problem.

For more information on this topic visit the link above.

One Reason to Offer Free Online Courses: Alumni Engagement

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Photo Credit to Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Photography

It is assumed that once you graduate from college you will no longer need to spend time in the classroom. A diploma from a university is a pinnacle moment of your educational career and once that has been obtained there is no use in spending any more time in a classroom. This idea is incorrect.

Casey Fabris examines the benefits of offering free online courses to college alumni in his article on The Chronicle of Higher Education website. This article examines the experiment conducted by Colgate University over the past few years in which they invited back alumni from the school to participate in MOOCs (massive open online courses). The courses offered ranged in subjects from “The Advent of the Atomic Bomb” to “Living Writers”. In a course offered last spring pertaining to atomic bombs they even invited veterans to participate in class discussions online to give the students a better perspective on their experiences with the war, since many of them weren’t even born at that time.

By offering free online courses to alumni from the school they are able to keep them connected with the community of both former and current students. During the first enrollment period Colgate University was able to enroll 380 alumni, when their original goal was only 238. The numbers grew to a whopping 800 online participants as the courses continued. The alumni participating in these courses were asked to share their feedback on the university’s experiment with online learning, and officials behind it considered it a success.

Other universities are now trying to engage their alumni using free online courses, offering former students a way to learn throughout their lives after university. The courses offer ways for alumni to engage each other if they wish and increase their knowledge even after their education has ended.

For more information on this topic visit the article above.