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Using Video to Drive Student Success

Improving teaching and learning, while deepening student engagement
University Business, June 2018

Today’s students have expectations that their courses provide flexible, easy-to-access video content and blended learning environments, but implementing video such as lecture capture platforms at scale across campus—and in a way that drives student success—can be challenging.

To overcome this challenge, the leadership of Odessa College in Texas took a unified approach to lecture capture, strengthening instructor-student relationships and implementing video analytics to measure learning and to connect with struggling students. Odessa has improved engagement, doubled the graduation rate and rapidly improved overall completion rates, earning the Aspen Prize Rising Star Award for its dramatic improvement.

In this web seminar, two leaders from Odessa discussed some best practices and strategies about how to implement video to increase engagement, improve learning and drive student success.


Shawn Shreves
Vice President of Information Technology
Odessa College

Jennifer Lee
Instructional Design and Technology Specialist, OC Global
Odessa College

Shawn Shreves: Over the last 10 years, our in-course completion rate has been up to 96 percent. We also have what we call success rate, because completion does not necessarily mean they passed the class. In our face-to-face and online classes we’re at 81 percent for success rate. Forty-two percent of our students have graduated; 31 percent are part-time. We have very high graduation rates.  

Jennifer Lee: In 2014, we decided to shift from a traditional course offering style to a shortened, more focused eight-week term. The challenge in shortening traditional 16-week courses down to eight weeks format was that courses needed to maintain the same rigor and meet the same learning outcomes. Students needed to be able to engage with the content outside of the course in a meaningful way so that the time they actually spend in the classroom or engaging with the instructor in the class allows them to focus on applying what they learn from that content. Lecture content capture was an attractive option to tackle this challenge.

This presented us with another challenge. We did have a lecture capture solution, but after talking to faculty we learned that they found it intimidating to use. So we needed something that was affordable, user-friendly and reliable. We are very fortunate to say that we’ve found all of these qualities in the TechSmith Relay™ product.

We use four high engagement strategies. The first is an instructor welcome video that’s used in all of our courses. This is a requirement for all of our fully online courses, but we also encourage professors who teach face-to-face and hybrid to do the same, just as a way to make a personal connection with their students.  

Shawn Shreves: Part of our engagement strategy is to build the relationship between the instructor and the student, and these videos allow students to see that the instructor is a real person. We know when we build that personal relationship with the student, they’re more likely to perform better in the class.

Jennifer Lee: Our second high engagement strategy is the course navigation video. The instructor takes Relay and they capture the screen. They use their voice narration to walk the student through various elements of a course. In general, it covers highlights, where they can find important course elements, where to find things like the announcement page, where students can see information about what’s coming up for the week, the course information area where students can find the syllabus, where to see grades, etc.

Our third engagement strategy is module content videos in manageable sizes. We don’t want people recording two- or three-hour videos and expecting students to watch them. We stress the ability to chunk content, because chunking content ensures that students can retain the information and actually use it in the future.

Our fourth strategy is student video assignments. This turns the camera perspective to the student and allows them to branch out creatively in ways they might not have considered before. Many of the programs we have require students to demonstrate a skill in some physical fashion, and creating the student video climate is a great way to capture the evidence of the attainment of that desired skill.

When we started using TechSmith, the science department was one of the first to jump on board. They were enthusiastic and excited about the chance to get to record their lab lectures, and they’ve produced some amazing videos. Some of the instructors have even gone so far as to use video editing software, in the form of a sister product created by TechSmith called Camtasia™.  

One feature that we love about TechSmith is that it offers the convenience to students to download these whole video files in an MP4 format to a local device, so it can be watched without needing an internet connection. Many of our student athletes take advantage of this feature—they will download lectures before traveling so that they can watch them on the road.  

There are several areas where we feel student success has increased because of the use of video. First, it allows students to learn at their own pace. Second is that our instructors are able to make a connection with their students. Third, we feel that encouraging students to branch out and embrace technology not only helps them in the course they’re currently working in, but also lends itself to building future skills and confidence that students will likely use in other courses, or possibly in the workplace environment. And fourth, we’ve found that constant contact with students helps drive student success.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, visit