Subudhi’s demonstrations reach beyond the classroom

September 30, 2011
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Editor’s Note: This is the eighth in a series of occasional features provided by the Teaching and Learning Center to encourage faculty to share ideas about teaching strategies that engage students and enhance learning. Faculty members are encouraged to share their ideas by contacting the TLC at 255-4872 or tlc@uccs.edu.

Portrait of Andrew Subudhi

Andrew Subudi, pictured here in a low oxygen research laboratory, records classroom lectures for replay by students.

Q – Please introduce yourself. Your name and department and how long you’ve been at UCCS.
A – Andrew Subudhi , associate professor, Biology Department. I joined the UCCS faculty in 2005, so I’ve just entered my seventh year at UCCS.

 What gave you the idea to record your lectures? How did you integrate the recorded lecture into your course?
A  My motivation to record lectures was in response to the increasing enrollment in BIOL 4360 Human Physiology course. Because I structured this course around in-class demonstrations which require equipment from my laboratory that is difficult to move, I’m restricted to teaching in the Osborne Center. The largest classroom in the building holds 66 students but  last spring I had 90 students enrolled, or on the waitlist, at the beginning of the semester. I reasoned that I could accommodate the entire waitlist if we opened an additional online section of the course that provided quality streaming video and screen capture of the actual class. I worked with Jerry Wilson, Jackie Crouch and Mike Belding to adapt the MediaSite system to fit my specific needs. Thanks to their hard work, streaming videos were available on Blackboard immediately after class for students in both the online and in-class sections.

 How do student use the video? Did students miss class knowing that they could listen to your lecture online? If so, how did you respond?
A  Online students watched the recorded classes when and where it fit their schedules. Students in both sections used the videos to review concepts, recopy their notes, and prepare for exams.

As the semester progressed, about one-third of the students registered for the in-class section stopped attending class but continued to access the videos. This was expected based on feedback from students and colleagues at the medical school where lectures are routinely recorded. I saw this as a plus because it opened up seats in the room for students who were registered for the online section but found they preferred to come to class. I thought it was great to have a flexible dual format and saw no detectable difference between grades of students who attended class and those who didn’t. This experience has changed how I feel about the future of online learning. I’m more optimistic about it now.

 Did it change how you used class time?
A  Yes. I had to plan and rehearse every lecture to make sure I was using video, whiteboard, LCD projector, and laboratory equipment in a way that could be captured effectively on video. I also had to experiment with ways to specifically address online viewers so that they didn’t feel completely removed from the classroom.

From a technological standpoint, there was some set up time involved. Fortunately for me, Mike Belding and Norm Halford from IT came and filmed every class session, including a make-up class because of a snow day, so I could focus on teaching. The biggest difference I felt in class was the presence of the camera in the room. There were no opportunities for retakes so any mistakes were part of the permanent record. I watched every video immediately after class to make sure I posted Blackboard announcements clarifying any inadvertent errors I made (for example, “ at 24:23, I said ‘left’ when I meant to say ‘right’’’). I have to admit, this process was a bit painful at times but watching the videos from the students’ perspective was a great learning experience for me. I noted many technical and even content items that I need to improve.

 How did the students respond?
A  Student feedback was overwhelmingly positive. I received many comments throughout the semester and on my FCQs stating that the ability to review each class was invaluable. The ability to pause and rewind lectures was a big hit. Many students said that they wished all their classes were recorded. On the negative side, some students were disappointed that they could not view the videos on iPhones or iPads since MediaSite uses Microsoft Silverlight, a program that is not supported on some portable devices. I know that the IT Department is currently evaluating other systems that may address this limitation in the future.

 Would you recommend recording lectures to your colleagues?
A  I would recommend recording lectures to those who have the time to polish or rework their lectures with online students in mind. For me, this will be an evolving process over the next several years. My experience thus far has been favorable but it does take a large investment in time, energy and money, to produce something worth watching. I spent at least twice as much time on this class as I would have without the additional online component. Additionally, I have to stress that I was completely reliant upon the IT Department’s support. While I know that the MediaSite system can be set up by a single user, I needed extra support in my classroom to film the variety of activities and technologies I incorporated into my classes. IT agreed to help me because they wanted to learn the pros and cons of the MediaSite system. It is unrealistic to have IT film everyone’s classes but I imagine that with some training teaching assistants could take on the responsibility.

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