Using Video to Enhance Instruction

If you’re teaching an online class, you’ve probably used video in your courses to provide instruction or tutorials–or perhaps both–to your students. But video tools can be useful in a variety of teaching contexts, from face-to-face to blended to fully online courses. Imagine, for example, you want to show your students how to use a particular piece of software. You could demonstrate it in class using the projector and the smart board, but what if your students forget what you did and didn’t take very good notes to refer to later? (I know, it’s a wildy implausible scenario, but bear with me.)

You could create a handout for them, but writing out a step-by-step process and including diagrams or screenshots is a time-consuming process that’s not always feasible during the semester. Wouldn’t it be easier if students could pull something up on Blackboard where they could watch a video of your computer screen as you demonstrated the tool, and listen to your narration as it unfolds? Then they your demonstration available on demand (saving class time), and you haven’t had to take a bunch of time putting together a complicated handout. Everybody wins!

There are several tools you could use to create this type of screencast video tutorial. lets you create a video and share it easily via social media. Camtasia is a video editing tool, with a lot more advanced features, that integrates with, there’s only a limited free-trial period before you’re required to purchase the software. If you have a webcam on your Windows computer, you can record video and use one of Microsoft’s programs (like Movie Maker) to format and edit the recording, but this method doesn’t allow for screencasting. What we in CETL recommend, actually, is using Panopto, our “lecture-capture” tool, to create this type of video. When you open the Panopto software (you can download it for your computer by going to this MyView link [login required]), you’ll see the options to select which video you want to capture. The primary video source is from your webcam (though you can un-check it to turn off webcam recording), but a secondary video source option means you can also capture either the primary screen (which will record whatever’s happening on your main monitor) or a PowerPoint (which allows the video’s narration to be tagged to each slide, so students can advance or rewind by slide).

If you’re using Blackboard, you can link the screencast video right into your course using the “Tools” menu. But if you want to share the video somewhere else (perhaps a private YouTube channel you’ve created for your course, or another blog or online space), you can download the video from our Panopto server and export it to another location (the CETL staff would be happy to assist with this if needed).

For some examples of what a screencast tutorial could look like, check out the series of videos on the Blackboard YouTube channel. This link is to the playlist of videos for students, but Blackboard also has a series of over fifty video tutorials for instructors. Each of the videos-for students or instructors-is under five minutes, and addresses one very specific topic (how to upload an assignment, or how to manage the columns in the Grade Center). They’re good examples of the kind of instructional video that could be really useful for students. Also, it’s a great idea to embed some of the student videos (“how to submit an assignment,” for example) in your Blackboard course; they’re very useful for students who haven’t used Blackboard much (or at all) and can help pre-empt some of the technical difficulties that happen in our courses. If you want to learn how to embed a YouTube video directly in your Blackboard course (as opposed to just linking to it), check out this tutorial:

Using videos in class can go beyond just screencasting tutorials. As any of our LIBA 450 (Core Seminar III) instructors can tell you, we have three rooms on campus (RASM 216, Krumm 5, and the Krumm Centrum) equipped to record class sessions via Panopto. Each room has an integrated webcam and audio mics to capture not just the instructor and smartboard content,  but also class discussions and interactions as well. Even if you’re not in one of these rooms, though, you can still use a webcam and the Panopto software to record a session, or capture a mini-lecture, to put online. Let’s say you have adopted the “flipped classroom” pedagogy and want to put up a series of brief lecture videos. Or perhaps you want to demonstrate how to employ a particular formula, or balance chemical equations. You could record yourself doing these activities and make it available for your students. If you’re teaching an online course, this would have the additional benefit of making your instruction more personal for your students and creating more social presence in your course. CETL has both webcams and microphones available for checkout if this is something that interests you.

Grand View has a number of tools available for you to supplement your courses by making instruction and course information available to your students outside of class. If you’re interested in learning a little more about how these tools-as well as our classroom tools like the Smartboard-work, consider attending our “Tools of Engagement” workshop this Saturday, March 4, at 9:00. We’ll have demonstrations and hands-on instruction to help you figure out how these tools might be most effective for you. And if you want to learn about some of the theory behind how these tools might help student learning, come to the “Learning Science 101” session at 10:30 on Saturday; we’ll look at some of the most pertinent findings from recent research on teaching and learning and brainstorm ways that you might use these insights in your own teaching and courses. Both sessions will be held in the CETL; if you’d like to attend, please RSVP so we can ensure there are enough donuts and coffee for everyone!

Soundtrack for this post:

[Trivia: this was actually the first video MTV played when the channel launched in 1981. I know it’s hard to believe, but MTV at one point did play actual music videos. Now get off my lawn, you darn kids]

Finally, this pup reminds us that in teaching, as in life, there is always more than one standard way to accomplish a particular goal. May his nonconforming, yet still quite effective, strategy inspire us to shake things up this week.


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