• Academic Technology

Using video to create 21st century learning experiences


till_winkler_cropped_322In the first part of my guest blog post for Panopto, I wrote about my early experiences of integrating video into my teaching approach. Having initially used Panopto to record lectures for students who couldn’t make it to class and then having branched out into creating online learning content, it was important for me to get to grips with what my students thought about my new way of working. Through a combination of the course evaluation surveys Copenhagen Business School (CBS) routinely sends out and some custom surveys of my own, it wasn’t long before I got some of the insights I was looking for.

How do video lectures affect student engagement?

The students’ feedback on the online classes, was, thankfully, very positive and in some respects perhaps a little unexpected. For instance, when responding to the question ‘was the teacher able to engage me in class?’ I was delighted to see that the majority of students gave a good evaluation despite the fact my course was not offered in a traditional classroom format. Many academics may shy away from using video as they fear students may feel disconnected from the learning experience. However, the feedback I received painted quite a different picture.

Having reviewed the detailed comments provided by my students, I realized that they felt engaged because they could learn the material at their own pace and in their own way. Some of them compared this to a face-to-face class where they said they actually sometimes got more distracted. For instance, in a classroom situation when I got involved in discussions with particular students on topics that weren’t of interest to the others, they would start to lose interest and their attention would drop.

The feedback also made me wonder whether the fact that I integrate a video of myself talking through my slides gives students a greater a sense of proximity to me – almost like they are receiving a one-to-one session. Perhaps this also helps to account for the high levels of engagement students reported when giving their feedback on my online lectures

Which content lends itself best to online learning?

One other key factor worth highlighting when considering why students gave such favourable responses is the nature of the content I was presenting itself. The course I chose to deliver online is, in my opinion, particularly well-suited to video delivery as it is very ‘concept heavy’. Video is a great medium when a module requires students to fully grasp a number of core theories, methods or frameworks that will underpin later work. These key concepts often lend themselves to being communicated in a more ‘one way’ fashion.

Of course, the other side of that is that lecturers may find video less suited to covering more contentious issues or emerging trends, for which a debate or dialogue-led format may be more appropriate.

As well as having to carefully consider the nature of the content being communicated and choosing an appropriate medium for delivery, as an instructor it is also critical to remember that people only have a limited attention span. Sometimes long live lecture sessions that last several hours are too much and students reach capacity well before the end of those sessions.

Blended learning is an approach that offers instructors and students the best of both worlds by bringing together traditional and online teaching formats. Instructors can use video to give students the opportunity to study the ‘heavy concepts’ before class and this frees up face-to-face time so that these concepts can be applied to real-world scenarios. This can be done in case-based group work or through discussions or exercises. This flipped classroom approach is a shift for both lecturers and students, but a shift which offers great benefits for learning.

The future with video and final words of advice for lecturers

Just as video provides students with greater flexibility in terms of when and where they consume learning content, it offers similar flexibility for lecturers in terms of when and where they deliver their teaching. When I think about the future, I think technologies that enable this level of flexibility open up so many opportunities for academics. In one recent semester, for instance, I was involved in a research project in the US. Due to the online format of my course, this didn’t affect my teaching at all. Panopto’s ability to facilitate asynchronous teaching in combination with our learning management platform meant I could fulfil my teaching obligations from anywhere. I think these types of arrangements will become increasingly commonplace in the future, allowing academics to balance their research and teaching priorities more creatively and also better manage their work-life balance.

So what are my concluding words of advice for other lecturers thinking of using video? Well, I think that experimentation is key and that the application of the medium will depend on the course content and the preferred teaching styles of the instructor. At my institution, to aid this process of experimentation, the Department of IT Management has now equipped a small room as a ‘Panopto studio’, so that any lecturer at CBS can try out this emerging medium. I hope this will spur adoption of video amongst my colleagues – this can only be a good thing. After all, our students feel that video is an engaging way to deliver teaching. To some it seems almost anachronistic to go to class and just listen to someone talking for hours. We need to think realistically about the way learning works in the 21st century and tailor our teaching methods accordingly.

If you’re interested in using video to enhance the student experience, you can request a free trial from a member of our team.