Calvin James Smith – Department of Maths & Statistics

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We created short videos advertising the content of modules to enable students to make more informed choices during the module selection process. Staff reported mixed experiences and interest in Mediasite personal capture so other mechanisms were also used (e.g. Camtasia, use of camcorder). Student feedback was positive and did not single out a preferred model of video recording.


To create a library of short videos promoting module content to support the module selection process. The library is to be made available via a Blackboard Organisation. Videos should be:

  • Short / concise
  • Reusable
  • Focus on main content of module (not elements whose emphasis depends on staff delivering the module)


Student feedback had revealed that students were feeling there was a lack of guidance and support around module selection, with some students reporting that they only discovered a module wasn’t for them after it was too late to change. Historically, we had provided module selection advice via the tutor system and carousel style talks after the exams periods or in Week 6; however, these mechanisms have experienced declining levels of student participation / efficacy in recent years so a new approach was trialled using the Personal Capture pilot.

We made videos for a wide range of Part 2 and final year modules and made these available in Blackboard alongside “pathway diagrams” showing the pre-requisites linking modules.


Maths and Statistics has a mixed relationship with use of screen-casts (typically linked to difficulties in capturing mathematical notation) so it was necessary to develop options for producing videos to enable colleagues to select the mechanism which worked best for them. Working with a colleague, Hannah Fairbanks, we put together two sample videos for MA2MPH (produced using Mediasite) and ST2LM (using a camcorder), and shared these with colleagues alongside an offer of support to produce their own content. No pressure or steer to use one mechanism (Mediasite or camcorder) was provided, rather we prioritised ease of producing AV content in a way colleagues felt comfortable with. Typically, Hannah or I would arrange a time to meet with colleagues and support them one-to-one. In addition, some staff used the Camtasia tool.

We spoke with students continuously throughout the process to receive feedback on what was useful content, both informally and using a feedback survey.


We created module selection videos for 06 (of 15) Part 2 modules and 10 (of 24) final year modules. These recordings were made available in a Blackboard Organisation called Maths Module Selection, alongside pathway information about how the modules fitted together both in- and between- years, alongside conventional resources such as the module catalogue and programme .

Staff involvement with the Personal Capture pilot did appear to promote additional discussions about inclusive practices and accessibility of resources.

Student was broadly positive indicating that this was a suitable solution to the challenge of supporting their selection of optional modules.


I was particularly pleased to be able to provide inclusive module selection support at times that suited students rather than being conditional on staff availability, etc. However, I was unable to convince all colleagues delivering optional modules of the merits of producing these videos so our coverage is not complete; student feedback identified the deficit and has asked for the remaining videos to be produced. It is undeniable that some staff were put off due to the additional burden of producing transcripts in order to meet our accessibility obligations (although we have had some successes using Google Docs to ease production of these).

Staff who had already developed slides for module delivery typically were more willing to engage with the process (talking over these) but otherwise it was challenging to solicit involvement with broad reluctance to engage in ‘talking head’ or being filmed at board activities.

We won’t know if this has been a successful means for supporting module choice until we see a reduction in ‘module tourism’ in the 2019-20 cycle.

Follow up

I’m hoping that now a bank of videos is available that we can “fill in the gaps” on a more leisurely timescale enabling colleagues to contribute without the time pressures of the pilot project.