Using personal capture to support students to learn practical theory outside of the laboratory

Dr Geraldine (Jay) Mulley – School of Biological Sciences  

Overview

I produced four screen casts to encourage students to better prepare for practical classes and to reinforce practical theory taught in class. Approximately 45% of the cohort watched at least some of the video content, mainly in the few days leading up to the practical assessment. The students appreciated the extra resources, and there was a noticeable improvement in module satisfaction scores.

Objectives

  • To provide consistency in delivery of teaching practical theory between groups led by different practical leaders
  • To provide students with engaging resources to use outside of the classroom, to use as preparation tools for practical classes and as revision aids for the Blackboard-­‐based practical assessment

Context

The Part 1 Bacteriology & Virology module includes 12 hours of practical classes designed to teach students key microbiological techniques and theory. I usually begin each practical with a short lecture-­‐style introduction to explain what they need to do and why.  The 3 hr classes are typically very busy, and I have observed that some students feel overwhelmed with “information overload” and find it hard to assimilate the theory, whilst learning the new techniques.  I have had to schedule multiple runs of practical classes to accommodate the large cohort and my colleagues now teach some of the repeat sessions. My aim was to create a series of videos to explain the theoretical background in more detail that students can access outside of the classroom. I hoped this would ensure consistency in what is taught to each group and give the students more time to focus on learning the techniques during the classes. I hoped that they would use the resources both to help prepare for the classes and as a revision aid for the practical assessment

Implementation

I initially tried to record 4 videos by simply recording myself talking through my original PowerPoint presentations that I use in the practical class introductions (i.e. 4 individual videos to cover each of the 4 practical classes). Having started to make the videos, I realised that it was very difficult for me to explain the theory in this format, which was quite surprising given this is how I had been delivering the information up until that point! I therefore adapted the PowerPoint presentations to make videos focusing on each of the experimental themes, talking through what the students will do in the lab week-­‐by-­‐week with an explanation of the theory at appropriate points. I recorded the video tutorials using the Mediasite “slideshow + audio” option and narrated free-­‐style as I would do in a lecture (no script).  When I made a mistake, I paused for a few seconds and then started the sentence again. After finishing the entire recording, I then used the editing feature to cut out the mistakes, which were easy to identify in the audio trace due to the long pauses. I was also able to move slides to the appropriate place if I had poorly timed the slide transitions. Editing each video took around 30 min to 1 hr. I found it relatively easy to record and edit the videos and I became much more efficient after I had recorded the first few videos.

I would have liked to have asked students and other staff to help in the design and production of the videos, but the timing of the Pilot was not conducive to being able to collaborate at the time.

Impact

Mediasite analytics show 45% of the students in the cohort viewed at least some of the resources, and 17% of the cohort viewed each video more than once. Students watched the three shorter videos (3 – 4 min) in their entirety, but the longest video (18 min) showed a drop-­‐off in the number of views after approx. 5 min (Figure 1), and so in future I will limit my videos to 5 min max.

Graph showing how students watched the video

Only a few students viewed videos prior to practical classes; almost all views were in the few days leading up to the practical assessment on Blackboard. This shows that students were using the videos as a revision aid rather than as a preparation tool. This is probably because I uploaded the videos midway through term and by this stage one of the three groups had already completed the 4 practical classes and so I did not want to disadvantage this group by promoting the videos as a preparation tool. It will be interesting if I can encourage students to use it for this purpose next academic year. My expectation was that time spent viewing would directly correlate with practical assessment grades, however there is not a clear linear correlation (Figure 2).

Graph showing use of videos and grades obtained

For some students attending the practical classes and reading the handbook is enough to achieve a good grade. However, students that spent time viewing the videos did get a higher average than those that did not view any (Figure 3), although this probably reflects overall engagement with all the available learning resources.  Responses to the student survey indicated that students felt the videos improved their understanding of the topic and supported them to revise what they had learnt in class at their own pace.

Graph showing video watching and grades obtained

Reflections

The biggest challenge I faced was trying to recruit other colleagues to the pilot during a very busy Autumn term and finding the time to design the videos myself. It would have been helpful to see some examples of how to use personal capture before I started but having participated in the Pilot, I now have more confidence. Once I had experimented with the Mediasite software, I found it quite easy to record the videos and publish to my Blackboard site (with guidance from the excellent support from the TEL team and Blackboard help web pages). I liked the editing tools, although I would very much like the ability to cut and paste different videos together.  The analytics are very useful and much better than the “track users” function in Blackboard. The analytics reinforced the suggestion that students are much more likely to finish watching short videos and I would advise making videos 5 min maximum, ideally 3 min, in length.    My experience of personal capture was incredibly positive, and I will certainly be making more resources for my students for all my modules.

Follow-up

Since making the recordings for the Pilot, I have teamed up with several colleagues in the School of Biological Sciences and will show them how to use Mediasite so that they can make resources for their modules over summer. I have also used the Mediasite software to record microscope training sessions and talks from open days.

Building bridges and smoothing edges

Patrick Finnegan – School of Economics, Politics & International Relations

Overview

My use of the personal capture scheme was intended to enhance our teaching methods within the department. My initial aims of building additional video capture material into the ongoing lecture series did not come through but I was able to use the capture package to engage my students more in the administration of a (then) overly complicated module.

Objectives

  • Initial plan centred on including personal capture on the Army Higher Education Pathway project – this was not possible due to software incompatibility with the Canvas platform used for the project
  • New objectives were based on a different module (The Study of Politics) and improving the student experience on that module
  • Improve the explanation of methods
  • Explain the supervisory choice system
  • Enhance lectures on complicated topics

Context

The module I focused on was Po2SOP (The Study of Politics) with 160 students. Personal capture was needed on this project as it allowed myself, as convenor of our largest module, to communicate with all of my students in a more engaging way. We needed a way to bring the topic to life and ensure that the students took on board the lessons we needed them to. I wanted to include real examples of the methods in action and to use the screen casts to explain certain decisions that would be too difficult to do via email.

Implementation

Unfortunately, the project began too late in the term to really affect the lectures on this module, which is co-taught between several staff members often using pre-existing slides. However, I was able to use it to engage in discussion with students to explain issues such as supervisor reallocation during the year and how our special event – the mini-conference – was to work. Rather than writing lengthy emails, I was able to quickly and visually explain to he students what was happening and to invite their responses, which some did. They did not engage with the capture material so to speak but my use of it did encourage discussion as to how they would like to see it used in future and how they would like to receive feedback on assessments in future if audio/visual options were available. The recordings made by myself and my colleague were mainly PowerPoint voice-overs or were direct to camera discussions. This allowed us to present the students with illustrations and ‘first hand’ information. These required significant editing to make sure they were suitable but the final product was satisfactory.

Impact

Beyond ‘ease of life’ effects this year, there was not a great deal of impact but this was expected given the start date (the largest number of views in a video was 86, but this was an admin explanation style video). However, planning for next year has already incorporated the different potential advantages provided by personal capture. For example, the same methods module will now incorporate tutorial videos made within the department and will maintain some supervisor ‘adverts’ to allow students to better choose which member of staff they will seek to work with in future. Within other modules, some staff members will be taking the opportunity to build in some flipped classroom style teaching and other time-heavy elements that were not previously available to them.

Reflections

Time needed to organise and direct co-pilots within a teaching-heavy department needed to be a lot greater than I originally planned. I was also not expecting to meet the levels of resistance that I did from some more established staff who were not interested in changing how they delivered the material they had prepared earlier. The major difference I would include going forward would be to focus on upcoming modules rather than pre-existing as incorporating the material when the module has already started was too difficult.

Follow-up

I have started to prepare some videos on material I know will be needed in the future, this is relatively straight forward to do and will mimic the general practice to date. The main evolution will be seen in responses to student need during class and how screen casts can be made on demand and with consistent quality.

Creating screencast videos to support and engage post-graduate students

Sue Blackett – Henley Business School, 2018-19

Image of Sue Blackett

Overview

I participated in the university’s Personal Capture pilot as a Champion for my school to trial the Mediasite tool to create screen cast videos for use in teaching and learning. My aim was to help PGT students get to grips with key elements of the module. The videos facilitated students in repeatedly viewing content with the aim of increasing engagement with the module. Some videos were watched multiple times at different points throughout the term indicating that information needed to be refreshed. 

Objectives

  1. To connect with the cohort and establish module expectations. 
  2. Reduce class time taken up with module administration. 
  3. Provide coursework feedback in an alternative form and reinforce its feedforward use for the final exam. 
  4. To provide exam revision advice and highlight areas of focus. 
  5. Support students with weaker English language skills. 
  6. Provide module materials in a reusable, accessible and alternative form. 

Context

The target audience was students on ACM003 Management Accounting Theory & Practice, a postgraduate course where 91% of students were native Mandarin speakers. English language skills were an issue for some students, so capture video provided opportunities for students to re-watch and get to grips with the content at their leisure. In addition, I wanted to free up class contact time so I could focus on content in areas that had been more challenging on the previous run of the module. Also, by using different colours and font sizes on the PowerPoint slides, the visual emphasis of key points reinforced the accompanying audio. 

Implementation

The first video recorded was a welcome to the module video (slides and audio only) that covered the module administration i.e. an overview of module, outline of assessment, key dates, module text book etc. The content for the video was relatively straightforward as it was taken out of the first lecture’s slides. By isolating module admin information, more information could be added e.g. mapping assessable learning outcomes to assessments and explaining the purpose of each type of assessment. In first recording the video, I did not follow a script as I was trying to make my delivery sound more natural. Instead, I made short notes on slides that needed extra information and printed off the presentation as slides with notes. As this is the same strategy that I use to deliver lectures, I was less concerned about being “audio ready” i.e. not making errors in my voice recording. 

 In the second and third videos (coursework feedback and exam revision advice), I included video of myself delivering the presentations. As the recordings were made in my home office, additional visual matters had to be considered. These included: what I was wearing, the background behind me, looking into the camera, turning pages, etc. The second attempts of each recording were much more fluent and therefore uploaded to Blackboard. 

 The last two recordings were quite different in nature. The coursework feedback used visuals of bar charts and tables to communicate statistics accompanied by audio that focused on qualitative feedback. The exam revision video used lots narrative bullet points. 

Examples of my videos:

Welcome to module: https://uor.mediasite.com/Mediasite/Play/7a7f676595c84507aa31aafe994f2f071d

Assessed coursework feedback: https://uor.mediasite.com/Mediasite/Play/077e974725f44cc8b0debd6361aaaba71d

Exam revision advice: https://uor.mediasite.com/Mediasite/Play/94e4156753c848dbafc3b5e75a9c3d441d

Resit Exam Advice: https://uor.mediasite.com/Mediasite/Play/e8b88b44a7724c5aa4ef8def412c22fd1d

Impact

The welcome video did have impact as it was the only source of information about the administration for the course. When students arrived at the first class with the text book, this indicated that they had been able to access the information they needed to prepare for the course. Student response to the personal capture pilot project questionnaire was low (18%), however, the general feedback was that the videos were useful in supporting them during the course. 

 Analysis of analytics via MediaSite and Blackboard provided some very interesting insights: 

  1. Most students did not watch the videos as soon as they were released. 
  2. Some of the videos were watched multiple times throughout the term by weaker and stronger students. 
  3. Some students were not recorded as having accessed the videos. 
  4. Students were focused for the first 20 – 60 seconds of each video and then skipped through the videos. 
  5. Few students watched the videos from start to finish i.e. the average time watched for the 4 min 49 secs welcome video was 2 min 10 secs. The coursework feedback video was 9 mins 21 secs, however, average viewing time was 3 mins 11 secs. The revision video followed the same trend being 8 mins 41 secs long with an average watching time of 2 mins 55 secs.
     

Review of video along with watching trends showed that students skipped through the videos to the points where slides changed. This suggested that the majority were reading the slides rather than listening to the accompanying commentary which contained supplementary information. 

 As no student failed to meet the admin expectations of the course, those that had not watched the video must have been informed by those who had. 

Reflections

The analytics were most illuminating. Me appearing in videos was supposed to establish bonds with the cohort and increase engagement, however, my appearance seemed to be irrelevant as the students were focused on reading rather than listening. This could have been due to weaker listening skills but also highlights that students might think that all important information is written down rather than spoken.  

 Videos with graphics were more watched than those without so my challenge will be to think about what content I include in slides i.e. more graphics with fewer words and/or narrative slides with no audio. 

 I will continue with capture videos, however, I will do more to test their effectiveness, for example I will design in-class quizzes using KahootMentimeter, etc. to test whether the content of the videos has been internalised. 

Follow-up

I’ve become much quicker at designing the PowerPoint content and less worried about stumbling or searching for the right words to use. I have been able to edit videos more quickly e.g. cutting out excessive time, cropping the end of the video. Embedding videos in Blackboard has also become easier the more I’ve done  it. The support information was good, however, I faced  a multitude of problems that IT Support had to help me with, which, if I’m honest, was putting me off using the tool  (I’m a Mac user mostly using this tool off campus).  

 

Adopting a flipped classroom approach to meet the challenges of large group lectures

Amanda Millmore, School of Law,  a.millmore@reading.ac.uk

Overview

Faced with double-teaching a cohort of 480 students (plus an additional 30 in University of Reading Malaysia), I was concerned to ensure that students in each lecture group had a similar teaching experience. My solution was to “flip” some of the learning, by recording short video lectures covering content that I would otherwise have lectured live and to use the time freed up to slow the pace and instigate active learning within the lectures.

Objectives

  • Record short video lectures to supplement live lectures.
  • Use the time freed up by the removal of content no longer delivered live to introduce active learning techniques within the lectures.
  • Support the students in their problem-solving skills (tested in the end of year examination).

Context

The module “General Introduction to Law” is a “lecture only” first year undergraduate module, which is mandatory for many non-law students, covering unfamiliar legal concepts. Whilst I have previously tried to introduce some active learning into these lectures, I have struggled with time constraints due to the sheer volume of compulsory material to be covered.

Student feedback requested more support in tackling legal problem questions, I wanted to assist students and needed to free up some space within the lectures to do this and “flipping” some of the content by creating videos seemed to offer a solution.

As many academics (Berrett, 2012; Schaffzin, 2016) have noted, there is more to flipping than merely moving lectures online, it is about a change of pedagogical approach.

Implementation

I sought initial support from the TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning) team, who were very happy to give advice about technology options. I selected the free Screencastomatic software, which was simple to use with minimal equipment (a headset with microphone plugged into my computer).

I recorded 8 short videos, which were screencasts of some of my lecture slides with my narration; 6 were traditional lecture content and 2 were problem solving advice and modelling an exemplar problem question and answer (which I’d previously offered as straightforward read-only documents on Blackboard).

The software that I used restricted me to 15 minute videos, which worked well for maintaining student attention. My screencast videos were embedded within the Blackboard module and could also be viewed directly on the internet https://screencast-o-matic.com/u/iIMC/AmandaMillmoreGeneralIntroductiontoLaw.

I reminded students to watch the videos via email and during the lectures, and I was able to track the number of views of each video, which enabled me to prompt students if levels of viewing were lower than I expected.

By moving some of the content delivery online I was also able to incorporate more problem- solving tasks into the live lectures. I was able to slow the pace and to invite dialogue, often by using technology enhanced learning. For example, I devoted an hour to tackling an exam-style problem, with students actively working to solve the problem using the knowledge gained via the flipped learning videos and previous live lectures. I used the applications Mentimeter, Socrative and Kahoot to interact with the students, asking them multiple-choice questions, encouraging them to vote on questions and to create word clouds of their initial thoughts on tackling problem questions as we progressed.

Impact

Student feedback, about the videos and problem solving, was overwhelmingly positive in both formal and informal module evaluations.

Videos can be of assistance if a student is absent, has a disability or wishes to revisit the material. Sankoff (2014) and Billings-Gagliardi and Mazor (2007) dismiss concerns about reduced student attendance due to online material, and this was borne out by my experience, with no noticeable drop-off in numbers attending lectures; I interpret this as a positive sign of student satisfaction. The videos worked to supplement the live lectures rather than replace them.

There is a clear, positive impact on my own workload and that of my colleagues. Whilst I am no longer teaching on this module in the current academic year, my successor has been able to use my videos again in her teaching, thereby reducing her own workload. I have also been able to re-use some of the videos in other modules.

Reflections

Whilst flipped learning is intensive to plan, create and execute, the ability to re-use the videos in multiple modules is a huge advantage; short videos are simple to re-record if, and when, updating is required.

My initial concern that students would not watch the videos was utterly misplaced. Each video has had in excess of 1000 views (and one video has exceeded 2000), which accounts for less than 2 academic years’ worth of student usage.

I was conscious that there may be some students who would just ignore the videos, thereby missing out on chunks of the syllabus, I tried to mitigate this by running quizzes during lectures on the recorded material, and offering banks of multiple choice questions (MCQs) on Blackboard for students to test their knowledge (aligned to the formative examination which included a multiple choice section). In addition, I clearly signposted the importance of the video recorded material by email, on the Blackboard page and orally and emphasised that it would form part of the final examination and could not be ignored.

My experience echoes that of Schaffzin’s study (2016) monitoring impact, which showed no statistical significance in law results having instituted flipped learning, although she felt that it was a more positive teaching method. Examination results for the module in the end of year formative assessment (100% examination) were broadly consistent with the results in previous academic years, but student satisfaction was higher, with positive feedback about the use of videos and active learning activities.

Links

University of Reading TEL advice about personal capture – https://sites.reading.ac.uk/tel-support/category/learning-capture/personal-capture

Berrett, D. (2012). How “Flipping” the Classroom Can Improve the Traditional Lecture. https://www.chronicle.com/article/how-flipping-the-classroom/130857. Chronicle of Higher Education..

Billings-Gagliardi, S and Mazor, K. (2007) Student decisions about lecture attendance: do electronic course materials matter?. Academic Medicine: Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 82(10), S73-S76.

Sankoff, P. (2014) Taking the Instruction of Law outside the Lecture Hall: How the Flipped Classroom Can Make Learning More Productive and Enjoyable (for Professors and Students), 51, Alberta Law Review, pp.891-906.

Schaffzin, K. (2016) Learning Outcomes in a Flipped Classroom: A comparison of Civil Procedure II Test Scores between Students in a Traditional Class and a Flipped Class, University of Memphis Law Review, 46, pp. 661.