engaging students with video

Post by Thembi Mason.

A little while ago I ran a workshop which was entitled ‘The learning of online learning’! Faced with such a large topic, I decided to ask everyone what they would like to focus on. It was amazing, I received a response via email from almost every participant – this was an enthusiastic group!

Responses were varied:

 What’s in it for the teacher?
 How can we find out if learning takes place in this [online] space?
 What are the pros and cons of the various online learning tools?
 What’s a simple and efficient way to get started with online learning to complement my face to face teaching?
 How can you use audio feedback on assessments?
 How do you create quiz/tests online and use the grade book?
 What is “best practice” for using blogs and wikis?
 How can you use Eluminate and YouTube/audio feedback and other ways to effectively teach online?
 Can I engage students in a “live” way where I can interact with students with some immediacy?

Obviously there was a lot to get through. We started looking at some of these questions but again, as always, when I showed this group how they might use video in their courses, that is when they came to life!

Why is video so engaging? Have you embedded video into your curriculum? It is so easy to do and it does seem to breathe life into a course for both teachers and students. It doesn’t really matter what your discipline is, you are bound to find a video you can embed from youTube/vimeo/Google videos etc into your course, and one that might even offer students a different perspective on a subject to yours. If you are worried that the information in the video is misleading, then you can capitalise on that too. Ask students if they have concerns about the approach or information conveyed in the video and to respond with how they might do it differently.

I explained to this group that videos are a valuable tool in learning and teaching. Rather than describing an industrial printing press, you can show students a video of someone walking around one, difficult theories or concepts can be connected to visuals in video and rather than asking students to respond to oftentimes dense journal articles or book chapters, asking them to respond to a video can sometimes elicit more responses. Indeed as entry points to these more difficult articles, videos can give students the prior knowledge to be able to connect to them. Students find videos engaging. Perhaps it is the visual, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook world they have grown up with but I must admit, I find video much more accessible than reading reports.

You can create your own videos too. You could use your phone or camera to do this or there is Desktop Personal Capture which allows you to record little snippets of video from your personal computer which you can top and tail and then send through to your course (basically a vlog)(via the Lectopia link). This is brilliant! You can catch key concepts or processes that students perhaps find difficult to understand on video and then students can watch them over and over to perfect a process or until they understand an idea.

But the best thing about video is that students can also search for them and author them too! Ask your students to find examples of videos on a particular issue, embed them into a blog or a wiki and share with the class. Ask students to comment on each other’s videos. Or set an assessment where a student needs to record a process, explain a concept or role play an activity. Most students have phones with video capabilities, and if not, student loans could be organised through your uni or school’s audiovisual team. Students can then upload the video to YouTube to process and reduce the file size. They can even create a private area on YouTube if they don’t want the rest of the world to access them. And then again, embedding them in a wiki or a blog allows them to share their video with you, their group or the whole class.

If you find the idea of using video in your teaching exciting, but are daunted by the “how to” – speak to you local IT or audiovisual staff – they can often show you the most efficient away to use new technology – as opposed to the time consuming trial and error method.

Below are some sample of the types of video readily available from YouTube that could enhance different classes:

Teaching strategy – Learning jigsaw
Statistics: Sample & Population
Organisational culture

RMIT University specific support:
For more information on how to embed a YouTube video in your myRMIT (Blackboard) course watch this.
Contact your College Academic Development team.
Try the audiovisual team in Building 8, level 7.
ITS workshops you can attend to learn more about myRMIT Studies (Blackboard).

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