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Four Steps to Student Success with Academic Video

Strategies to improve student engagement
University Business, December 2016

Imagine using academic video to strengthen prerequisite skills, enhance curriculum content, ease anticipated student struggles, and push students further in their knowledge of course material. Brooke McCurdy has been teaching math for more than 14 years. When her classes morphed from a traditional in-person method to a flipped-classroom environment, she saw the success of her students soar as they became more engaged.

In this web seminar, McCurdy discussed some of the best practices for using video to teach math to grades 9-20, including how to use academic video to reinforce learning, breakdown complex concepts and successfully implement classroom projects, how to break up lectures into shorter modules to better complement overall course design, and advice for faculty just getting started teaching online.

Math Teacher
Collaborative College for Technology & Leadership (N.C.)

My classroom used to be more structured around lecture and basic recall questioning, but I have now transitioned to more of a technology-enhanced, multiple-methodology setting. My students are now more engaged, using technology, working together, collaborating, using inquiry-based learning and project-based learning in the classroom.

There are multiple ways I use academic video to help my students in mathematics. One is that I use it to ease student struggles. As educators, we have to anticipate concepts that students may struggle with. So I’ll create videos to explain in detail some of these concepts. That way, the students can revisit these at any time.

I’ll even tell them, “These videos are going to be in our LMS permanently. I’m never going to take them down.” They can look at them while they’re completing homework, while they’re preparing for a test, or working through projects. And when students don’t understand certain concepts that we’ve worked on, they’ll often email me asking if I have any videos, or if I can make a new video about the concept. So they do see the importance of using the videos to ease some of their struggles.

I’ll also use videos through the implementation of projects—where I can give them instructions and guidelines through Mediasite Desktop Recorder to help them with their projects so that they understand what is expected and what outcomes I want to see. I also use academic video in a true flipped-lesson type of setting, where I might send them a video to watch before they come to class so that we can have more rich discussion and I can use higher levels of questioning in class. And then sometimes I’ll just have a video to activate recall of prior knowledge, maybe something they’ve learned in a previous course that I will need them to remember for the day’s lesson.

Personalizing learning
Mediasite has a lot of benefits for not only myself, but also for my colleagues and my students. One of the hot topics these days is personalization of learning and being able to address all levels of ability. Through Mediasite, I can actually do this.

I can do something as simple as creating an online survey, where I may ask the students some general questions—maybe about where they feel they are with the topic. Then I can tailor the academic video through Mediasite to meet the needs of the learners. Some learners are fine with a recorded lecture, but others need short videos that go into a little more detail or focus on something specific. By doing this, I can personalize the learning, and it can help me enrich class discussion, since all learners will have a good foundation.

One of the things that I like about Mediasite is the analytics. I can see how many students are watching the videos, and which students have watched them. I can also identify hotspots in the videos, where multiple students have focused on one section. And I can use all of this information to drive my instruction the next day.

Another way that I and my colleagues use Mediasite is to give feedback to students. We’ve found that a lot of times, recorded feedback is more beneficial to them than just one-to-one feedback. So if they are turning in a big project or a paper with some of my English colleagues, we can record feedback using Desktop Recorder, and give them written or verbal feedback as well. That way they can watch it more than one time to improve upon their learning moving forward.

The flipped classroom
One other big topic in today’s learning environment is the concept of flipped lessons and flipped classrooms. I do use a lot of true flipped lessons, where I might want students to watch a video using something that I’ve created through Mediasite to help them recall prior knowledge. I’ll have them watch this video ahead of time, they’ll come into class, and we’ll use that prior knowledge and the learning that they’ve gotten through the video to do something else in the classroom.

That could be getting students to think on a higher level. It could be some more inquiry-based learning, some project-based learning. I can also differentiate this way using flipped lessons, where in the classroom I may have different levels of learners, and I can have multiple videos that I’ve created through Mediasite for them—I can show one group of learners one video and another group another video.

When I started using academic video, there were some things that I figured out along the way, things I can now offer as tips for someone starting out. One is that you need to be upfront with your students. I definitely tell them that this is a learning curve for me as well. I tell them that this is an ongoing process and that I will continue to make new videos and put those out there.

By doing this, I feel that the students buy in more to what I’m doing. I will use a lot of student input in these videos as well, because they give me some of the best feedback. I will ask what changes I should make, what videos they need, and I will take that and improve upon what I’ve created. I’ve also found that video length is important. Five- to eight-minute videos seem to go over the best. Anything above that and usually the students don’t end up finishing watching.

Through these academic videos, my students have become better at math. They’ve found that this helps them reinforce what we’re doing. That goes right into the retention improvement. Students seem to be remembering more using these academic videos, and this is showing through in different assessments, both formative and summative.

A couple of years ago, we started incorporating academic video and Mediasite. In the first year, our test scores rose to the top 6 percent of the state, and we were pretty happy with that. After this past year, we’re in the top 2 percent, and we have exceeded all student growth targets. So this has helped us grow not only in my classroom and for individual students, but as a school in general.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, visit 

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