During a Lunch and Learn session I was doing on Planning and Integrating E-Learning, I mentioned demonstrating and if you were going to do a demonstration you could consider videoing it and uploading the resulting movie for students to access either at their leisure or in future years so you didn’t have to repeat the demonstration (unless you really wanted to !)
This then provoked discussion on video in general and how effective it was in getting the point across. For example videoing your own lectures and making them available on a streaming server, or videoing yourself doing worked solutions of maths problems. I only really had anecdotal evidence to back up my very strongly held view that it can be very effective (as long as it is done right – which sadly, much of it isn’t), until now.
Deb Lewis of Business and Economics (one of the people most immediately interested in the matter – I think) was looking for something else a few days later and came across this page from the University of Toronto Scarborough.
It describes a new approach they are trying with some courses where the lecture component is offered in the traditional turn up, sit down and listen format but also in an online version. Lectures are filmed as they take place and are quickly uploaded to a streaming server for students to access as they wish. This gives the students the option of attending the physical lecture as it is delivered or they can access the online version whenever it is convenient for them to do so.
To quote from the site:
“While the concept is simple, its implementation has lead to benefits at virtually all levels within the university. Most importantly, the students love the flexibility this option provides both in terms of scheduling but also in terms of allowing them to get more out of the lectures. That is, many students welcome the ability to (a) watch lectures when they are feel alert, (b) control the local distractions that cannot be controlled in a traditional lecture setting, and (c) pause and rewind lectures during their presentation. In fact two thirds of the students we have been surveyed feel that watching lectures online provides a superior learning experience“
They later go on to hail it as “a fantastic success that truly has changed the way we offer post-secondary education at the University of Toronto at Scarborough” and state that its annual growth is fueled by student demand.
This is an excellent example of how a more student centred approach can really pay off. The old chestnut concern of “if I provide my lecture notes and PowerPoints on Blackboard then none of the students will turn up. Maybe if you provide the whole experience (notes, PowerPoints and a video of the actual lecture) it won’t really matter if they turn up or not !