Learning materials are becoming increasingly available online, being available both in batch mode, such as through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and continuously through web sites and Youtube. Existing traditional face-to-face courses may try to adopt such external materials, to substitute for some face-to-face learning activities or to augment them. This paper reports on our experiences in replacing face-to-face lectures with recordings from a MOOC, and how we used the subsequently available face-to-face time to add further value to the class experience. While several producers of online content have written about their experiences, this paper documents experiences from the perspective of smart use/consumption of external online materials.
Our motivations for adopting externally produced online resources were to avoid the costs (both time and monetary) of developing high-quality online content, and to offer students a variety of content sources from which they could choose according to their personal preferences. Our goals in this trial were: to gauge student opinion about this delivery mode; to learn how to maximise student satisfaction with, and the educational value of, a course taught in this mode; and to develop teaching staff experience in how to successfully adopt online course content.
We surveyed student opinions about the use of recorded videos before using them (in the previous instance of the class), and after using them for half- and a full semester. Positive feedback from the previous class led to our process of checking the availability and coverage of online materials. We then developed a procedure to determine what to cover in class time so as to add extra value beyond the recorded videos, including short lectures that distilled the essence of the recorded videos, and longer enrichment classes with local industry speakers, elaboration and more examples, and extension topics that were more challenging or detailed than the recorded videos. We developed systems to synchronise students with class activities, and a system for students to submit Requests For Information. We compared the academic performance of this cohort of students using videos to a previous cohort who did not, and study the qualitative feedback from students.
Average student performance on selected test questions was unaffected by the change in delivery mode (59% before, 57% after), and feedback from students about the new delivery mode was very positive, e.g. before the change: 86% for and 11% against (the remainder didn’t care), n=54, and after the change 82% for and 6% against, n=34. We found that the enrichment material was best presented as elaboration followed by extension topics, even though that added contextualisation overhead, that a weekly class synchronisation email was popular but that the Requests For Information system was not. As judged by student attendance in the optional classes, students highly valued the essence lectures (over half of the class attending) and in the extras class we were surprised that it wasn’t just the better performing students who stayed for the extension topics.
We were encouraged by the very positive feedback from students about using recorded lectures, and we hope that the teaching processes and experiences documented in this paper will help other teachers make better use of available online course materials.
Online education, recorded videos, blended learning