Technology has enabled higher education to extend instruction outside of the traditional classroom. New lecture capture technology such as the McGraw-Hill Tegrity Mobile App allows professors and students to record information on-the-go. In this web seminar, originally broadcast on October 18, 2012, instructors from Laramie County (Wyo.) Community College demonstrated how they use the app to enhance their lab, online, and hybrid classes in the Geosciences department.
As someone who has taught lab science for a total of 15 years, I have had to work at getting across lab science effectively in a variety of different settings and modalities.
Over the years, we have integrated technology like Tegrity into our classes at Laramie County Community College (LCCC). For some background, the Geosciences department at LCCC is comprised of one full-time instructor and two adjuncts. While there is currently no program, degree, or certificate for Geosciences, students can take our courses to fulfill their science General Education requirement and transfer the credits to many four-year institutions.
TK: We have seen a lot of growth in the past three years. Over 2,000 of the 5,000 students that attend LCCC take Geoscience courses. To address rising enrollment, we keep developing innovative new course offerings. In 2000, we began offering web-enhanced courses, and in 2002, we offered online lab sciences. In 2005, we saw the development of a hybrid course that was designed to address the high cost of home lab kits. Content and personal projects are online, but lab and field work are done face to face every week. It is important to stress to students how important real field work is in Geoscience. In typical field trips, students come and listen to their instructor lecture in the field. Students usually remember the fun they had hiking, but not what was taught. I wanted to insert learning responsibility into the experience. I decided to develop field trip projects that have evolved over the years. Initially, students were bringing along disposable cameras to take pictures. They combined their photos with text describing what they saw and experienced. As technology moved forward, the projects became more advanced. Eventually, students were using small video cameras or smartphones to record and orally describe their surroundings.
TM: With the latest Tegrity mobile app, students with a smart device can load the app and record straight from their device. Tegrity is also on the home screen of our learning management system (LMS) and integrates well into any LMS. We have both written and recorded instructions that explain to students that they will be recording their labs as part of the lab grade and experience.
TK: We have learned from our traditional and online classes that a pictorial representation is important to validate participation. In our online lab science classes, students must be able to prove they actually went out on their own field trip. We have students summarize or analyze the pictures they took, which requires the use of higher-level thinking; they are showing they have retained information. Students are able to take control of their learning with choices. They decide how to do their field trip and what to record with their mobile device.
TM: Online lab courses have gotten a bad rap from instructors who say you cannot offer a fulfilling lab experience online. Trina and I argue that you can if you conduct the class correctly and with the right rigors. The more connection you make with the students, the better. Using mobile devices, Tegrity, and video sharing can create the collaboration found in a traditional lab environment. When a student provides a recording of his or herself out in the field making mistakes and asking questions, instructors can deliver feedback and establish validity.
TK: Through Tegrity, I do a welcome message to my students at the beginning of the semester. It is important to have a face-to-face meeting in an online class, as we may never actually meet. I use this as an icebreaker to give the students a tour of the classroom and to set the stage for the class.
TM: Students will be using Tegrity to record 60- to 90-second clips that display what they are doing in the field and any problems they may have. One project that has changed with the use of Tegrity is our weather lab. Prior, students noted the weather every day, plugged the data into a spreadsheet, and wrote a lab report to describe what happened. Hopefully, with each weather reading, students would engage in a higher level of learning as they gained knowledge from lectures and the textbook. We have now added a video component that has students instead recording and orally discussing the weather as if we were in a live class together. By discussing the different features of weather and how they relate, a real sense of collaboration is developed. Students share their videos with the class and exchange comments, which is very popular.
TK: We offer a field-intensive “Geography of Yellowstone” class where students bring along recording devices. Instead of writing down that Old Faithful erupted, engagement is increased as students record it exploding.
TM: We encourage students not to be afraid, to rehearse, and to shoot many different takes of their videos. Like in a live lab environment, if you make a mistake, it is simply part of the learning experience. You will learn what you missed or did not understand as you watch other students’ videos and receive comments from other students and your instructor.
TK: In our hybrid class, where the class goes on field trips together, students must orally summarize something geology-related at every stop. The recording should help with retention, as students must explain what they have learned. One challenge we have faced is that in the beginning, the extensive use of technology may be a bit nerve-wracking for students and faculty. However, this gets easier with every upgrade and enhancement to mobile devices. On campus, students can connect to Wi-Fi and record lab summaries directly onto Tegrity. There is tremendous opportunity for growth, as Tegrity is always getting better and easier to use. We hope our system can eventually expand to other lab sciences such as Biology. We are getting a lot of buy-in from fellow faculty by making presentations on how other instructors can use Tegrity to enhance their classes or even create hybrid or online-only classes.
TM: Initially, we had trouble downloading videos into our LMS, ensuring there was enough space to store videos, and instructing students on how to upload videos. Tegrity alleviates this stress by allowing students to plug their device directly into the computer and start a Tegrity record session. The video that gets recorded gets automatically pushed into the LMS and becomes available to the class. The mobile app makes this simple process even easier. If a student has a mobile device, they can download the app, quickly record a video, and have the recording pushed to the class.
TK: Students already live in the world of social media; recording and sharing videos comes naturally to them. It balances the rigor of taking a lab science and writing reports.
To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please go to http://www.universitybusiness.com/wsarchive101812