We often advise lecturers to use more interesting content on their Moodle sites, rather than just lecture slides, PDFs and so on, but what does that mean in practice and how can lecturers facilitate this and manage their busy schedules?
Videos are an easy way to make sites more visually appealing and are more likely to engage students. We can use videos in two ways: either
(i) source already-created videos, via sites such as Youtube or Box of Broadcasts.
(ii) can create our own.
As an amateur videographer outside of work this is an area I am very interested in. During my time working in the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies I had the chance to interview some extraordinary characters, including government advisers on how to deal with terrorist attacks and ex-convicts who have been successfully rehabilitated into society.
These short interviews provided much better value to students than watching a rerun of a longer lecture. In fact, studies show that the length of the video directly links to how much of the content the student will watch. Whilst this study looks at MOOCs, I strongly believe we can translate this to a Higher Education environment also.
With the introduction of H5P functionality within Moodle we can make these videos interactive and make sure students answer questions to solidify the knowledge they’ve gained by watching them.
The generation of students coming through now have grown up on Youtube and Netflix, and academics are keen to tap into that mindset to provide videos of educational value. There’s various different styles of video to choose from, and I have personally been involved in 7 different ones.
In my current job in the Science and Health Faculty there has been a lot of scope to provide instructional or demonstration videos for specific pieces of equipment in laboratories, for example. Students can watch these videos outside of class, and it saves valuable lab time: students can get on with their work straight away rather than having to get to grips with the equipment.
I think videos also provide a vital link on Distance Learning courses: it’s often a great way for students to connect with the course, especially if the lecturer is happy to do bits to camera. It can humanise the experience if they can see who is teaching them.
Students want to feel they get value for money and just providing Powerpoints and PDFs isn’t enough these days. By creating our own in-house videos the students get an almost personalised learning experience. When I started in the Faculty there was some basic camera equipment, but I was able to purchase a higher-spec camera, lapel mics and some small studio lights via senior management. This means that I’m mobile and can go to the lecturer or a location they wish, rather than have everyone go to a dedicated filming space.
Projects currently in the pipeline are a “TV” style video with student presenters introducing pieces about their specific course, including how to present their poster assessment in front of a panel on a Pharmacy course; this will be invaluable for first-year students.
Looking to the future there have already been requests for my services on field trips for geography-type courses. This means we can increase the accessibility of these courses for students who, for various reasons, might be unable to get onto these trips. Having a short video on how to conduct experiments on soil, for example, means these students will have a similar experience to those who go on the trips. Ultimately, as an institution, we should be striving for all of our students to have consistent learning experiences and by creating short videos we can go some way to achieving that.