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Lessons Learned In Flipping the Classroom

Best practices for using academic video
University Business, April 2017

At the University of Trinidad and Tobago, recording lectures was once a cumbersome technology dance. From loaner cameras and SD cards to burning and distributing DVDs, the process was disconnected from the teaching and learning objectives and produced no measurable results. The university aligned its efforts by transitioning to an active flipped classroom.

In this web seminar, the multimedia and AV services manager at UTT discussed how the decision to shift from a record-first-figure-it-out-later paradigm to a teaching- and learning-centered system of lecture capture helped UTT achieve desired learning outcomes and positively affect student performance.

Lisle Waldron

Multimedia and AV Services Manager

The University of Trinidad and Tobago

During my 10 years at UDT, I’ve come to terms with this Einstein quote: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking that we used when we created them.”

We are a multisite, multicampus university. Our learning center is a small department, but it’s catering to the educational needs of our entire university. Our student body can be in the realm of 7,500 to 8,000 students, and we’re supporting 1,000 or so faculty members. So as a small department, any plans to manage a service that becomes more resource-intensive is worrisome and should be avoided.

Coming to UDT, the mandate was straightforward and simple: Get this done. So I started like anybody else would, trying to figure out: What is lecture capture? I knew it as a hot buzzword that I’d heard a million times in faculty meetings. I read it in the trades, about all of the cool things people are doing with lecture capture.

Once I began to peel back the layers of this conundrum of lecture capture, what I immediately realized is that we didn’t think about storage of content. We were talking about gigabytes or terabytes of video content that could be accessed by thousands of people at the same time, but we hadn’t thought about how we were going to manage this. We were not thinking about how we would distribute content. And lastly, we weren’t giving any thought to the population and what devices they would be interacting with. We started this journey in 2015, when mobile platforms had already taken hold. It would have been unwise to have this discussion about lecture capture and not consider how were we going to deliver content to mobile devices.

Also, you have to think about storage, servers, possibly upgrading your network, switching, routing, internal bandwidth and possibly external bandwidth—because of course, the expectation is that this on-demand content will be accessed by students wherever they are, whenever they want.

And perhaps bigger than all of this is: How do you control your content in terms of intellectual property concerns, academic rigor concerns, security concerns for student data, passwords, hatching, all of that stuff with these free services?

What I was talking about was managed lecture capture. We were looking for a solution that allowed us to focus on the pedagogy, focus on the end results, focus on the goals of our teaching and learning processes and what we wanted as a learning center, and less on the technical side of lecture capture.

Mediasite became the platform we could lean on or look to when something went bump in the night. It was compatible with almost everything.

The flipped classroom

One of the things we saw was the difference in the classroom when the flipped model starts to come to form. You see the students hover in the classroom way better prepared to engage with a ton more questions. You see students take charge of their own learning, become responsible for their learning, and engage with their facilitators and their faculty members.

That record-distribute-teach model began working well. These students are getting far more content than they ever had before, but with far less face-to-face time and way more online conversation, projects, assessments and so forth.

One challenge you will face when you move to these BYOD models is that sometimes you’re relying on technology-challenged students and/or faculty who you’re going to have to provide some technical support for, especially in your windup. In year one, we had a ton of that. I would come to the first class every semester and go through laptops, go through whose antivirus is up to date, and every little thing you could think about. So you have the faculty side of this, the student side of support, and the technical support side.

Our technical support isn’t where we would like it to be, and we hope it’s going to get there. But Mediasite has been a standout—in spite of the technical support that we don’t have the robustness for, Mediasite has worked well for many students and many members of the faculty.

Another challenge is if you’re thinking about getting into this managed lecture capture space, you need to keep your focus on your learning activities. You need to keep your focus on the learning outcomes. I can’t say that enough—learning outcomes, learning outcomes, learning outcomes.

Do not lose focus on your learning outcomes. And always—especially when you have the privilege of using platforms like Mediasite—use data to drive that next iteration. Also, ask how you can improve the experience of your technology champions, because it’s their experience that is actually going to chart your strategy for your institutional experience with your online learning.

I want to leave you all with this—and this is important: The first rule of any technology used in our business is that automation applied to efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to inefficient operation would magnify its inefficiency. What we have been able to achieve from Mediasite had a lot less to do with lecture capture as a buzzword, and a lot more to do with the fact that we built a focus and a design process that allowed us to make a step-by-step transition over the past three years—from those DVDs, and those hard drives, and those SD cards, and the three hours of importing a video on my computer, and the three hours of exporting and waiting for it to import and decode—into the ability and flexibility with our platform in Mediasite.

Students get it on their phones, on their laptops. It’s very seamless.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, visit www.universitybusiness.com/ws022116

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