Videotaped lectures offer alternatives for student learning

Anne Godlewska (Geography) and Brian Frank (Engineering and Applied Science) are using video-captured lectures this year as part of an ongoing pilot project.

“The willingness of Professors Godlewska and Frank to innovate allows us to investigate the potential use of technology to help students learn and rethink how we engage with students in and outside the classroom,” says Andy Leger, Educational Developer at the Centre for Teaching and Learning, who spearheads the project.

Professor Godlewska will videotape her Geography 101 lectures during the fall semester and make them available on-line to the 450 students registered in the course. With the help of Information Technology Services and the Centre for Teaching and Learning, she is combining lecture capture with clickers and Moodle to boost student engagement.

For the same course during the winter semester, Professor Godlewska will substitute the in-class lecture with smaller group sessions by asking the 180 students to watch the videotaped lectures from the fall semester on their own time. Groups of 60 students will then have a 90-minute interactive session each week with Professor Godlewska together with a small team of teaching assistants.

Over the last 10 years, Professor Godlewska has observed that students are less engaged by lectures. She’s aiming to keep the students interested in the course material through practical exercises, debates and research projects during the weekly group meetings.

“Nothing replaces face-to-face engaged teaching. I am hopeful the lecture-capture technology will allow me to interact with students in new and exciting ways,” she says.

Extensive evaluations will occur after both semesters. Depending on feedback from both Professor Godlewska and her students, the geography department will consider expanding the use of the technology in Geography 101 next fall.

Professor Frank will use the lecture-capture technology primarily to accommodate the needs of some students. For upper-year students who transfer into engineering and cannot fit the first-year Engineering Practice lecture into their timetable, they can watch the videos instead. Students who attend the in-class lecture will also benefit because they can review the material on-line.

“We’re not proposing to eliminate lectures but certainly to support them. There may be some benefit of allowing students to see some lectures online,” he says.

Professor Frank, director of program development in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, says the pilot project will help determine if the technology is suitable for other courses.

Student surveys and faculty feedback from two Arts and Sciences courses that used the technology last year indicated that making the lectures available on-line is a valuable teaching tool.