Using Video in an Online Course

(Rev. date: June 08, 2020 - 10:15pm)
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This page provides suggestions and resources for using video in an online course.  While this page describes general suggestions for any faculty at the University, please contact your local teaching and learning center for more information and support.  

Video Examples

This section describes different examples of how video can support instruction in an online course. Click on each title to read the details. 

Many faculty rely on the chalkboard or whiteboard when teaching in the classroom. It provides an easy method of writing on a large surface.  How does this translate online?  While some faculty reported painting a wall in their house with chalkboard paint, it is not feasible to ask all faculty (and their spouses) to remodel their house to accommodate this strategy.  Using a tablet device (iPad, Wacom Tablet, Surface Pro) with a stylus is a digital chalkboard alternative when combined with whiteboard apps like the Zoom Whiteboard or Explain Everything app.  The limitation of a tablet device is that students cannot view the entire “board” at the same time.  Faculty can also record writing on a sheet of paper with a camera as a lower technology option, but again, the board size is limited. Faculty can check if cameras are available in classrooms with writeable surfaces on their campus.  Be sure to test a teaching session to ensure the writeable surface is visible to students when they are viewing it on a computer screen.   Andrew Ng of Coursera provides suggestions for implementing a chalkboard session when teaching online.

There are a variety of ways to make your lecture interactive by integrating quizzes, knowledge checks, animated diagrams and/or graphics, illustrations, and hyperlinked supplements. However, the easiest way to make a lecture interactive – and the method requiring the least amount of additional computer software – is by embedding thoughtfully designed quizzes and questions.

Design a “Pre-Quiz” for Recorded Lectures

To get your students mentally primed to integrate new material about a subject, first give them a “pre-quiz” that prompts them to retrieve their prior knowledge about the subject. By doing so, they mentally activate organizational structures about this subject that they can augment with the new information. To incentivize student curiosity and exploration of their knowledge, the “pre-quiz” should be no- or (very) low-stakes, e.g., not counted at all or as “complete”/”incomplete.”

Insert Questions between Sections

To enhance retention and recall of knowledge, students need to practice retaining and recalling that knowledge – and simply designed multiple choice questions are very effective in this regard. After each 10- to 20-minute section of video, ask students to perform some simple recall of what they’ve just learned.

You can also design questions that ask students to apply and synthesize knowledge – not just recall it. These questions may take a little longer to develop, but the learning payoff is great, and these types of questions can be a very efficient way of prompting students to synthesize information in an online, asynchronous environment.

All questions should provide feedback on why a particular answer was correct, incorrect, and/or the best choice.

The School of Nursing has a guide on designing questions and other simple activities using Bloom’s Taxonomy: https://info.nursing.jhu.edu/blooms-taxonomy/#/. (Please note: all examples use nursing content, but the overall guidance can be applied to any subject matter.)

Identify Software/LMS Tools for Interactivity

This may be the most challenging part of building simple interactivity into pre-recorded video lectures. Panopto and Kaltura offer the ability to add quizzes to video, so if your school/division uses either one of those tools, that’s probably the easiest way to build interactivity.

Alternatively, you can build out questions/quizzes in Blackboard using the Test Tool in the course site. So: you can record a video using one tool, upload to the video (or video sections) to the LMS, and build out questions in Blackboard.

Contact your school or division’s teaching and learning center for more information about potential tools.

Inform Students of Instructional Benefits

Tell students why they’re doing certain activities. While this may seem self-evident from an instructor perspective, it may not always be from a student perspective. Also, in a live lecture, this message may be conveyed throughout the lecture through discursive give-and-take between the instructor and students; in an asynchronous, pre-recorded environment, this is not possible.  The pedagogical intention of each activity should be explicitly stated so that students understand their instructional benefits.

When you give a pre-quiz and/or insert questions between sections, tell students why you’re doing those things. This will cue them to pay closer attention themselves.

Use Quizzes and/or Questions to Interleave Information

Interleaving is the practice of mixing (or interleaving) multiple subjects or topics to enhance the retention and recall of these subjects across a course or program. Interleaving has been shown to be more effective than “blocked” learning, or learning one topic very thoroughly before moving onto to another one. By mentally juxtaposing topics, interleaving helps students determine the similarities and differences between the topics and develop problem-solving skills.  

Interleaving is an easy way of prompting your students’ abstract, higher-level thinking skills (such as problem-solving) in an online, asynchronous environment. 

Sources on interleaving:

https://www.learningscientists.org/blog/2016/8/11-1

https://academicaffairs.arizona.edu/l2l-strategy-interleaving

Some faculty use video to record demonstrations that would be conducted with students in class. For example, a physics instructor may demonstrate the conservation of energy with a pendulum, a nurse could conduct an in-take protocol with a patient, or a lab instructor can record data collection procedures.  These videos can be highly effective, however, they involve significantly more work to produce. Consider the need for lighting and staging in unique spaces.   Recording multiple angles can help students view the entire demonstration.  The videos may need to be edited to switch between different perspectives, but also to stitch together steps conducted over time into a condensed shorter video.  In addition, it is recommended to record audio separately in a controlled environment with a quality microphone if recording equipment demonstrations, which can be noisy especially if ventilation equipment is used. If multiple actors are used to role play a scenario, be sure to mic each person seperately.

Lab Demonstration recorded for JHU Chemistry Class (Accessible with JHED ID): 
https://jh.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=0c4c3772-7f9c-49c0-a1c0-ab8b00e350fb

Tools Recommended: Panopto, webcamera, microphone, lighting, editing software

Running office hours, problem-solving sections, test prep classes, or question and answer sessions are a great way to involve students directly during synchronous sessions.  The biggest challenge is typically facilitating questions from students.  If using a tool like Zoom, use the raise your hand feature to answer student questions in the order of requests.  Students can also post questions in the chat tool so faculty can respond.  For a large class, it may help to have a co-instructor or teaching assistant to monitor the chat tool and participant requests.

Video is not just an opportunity for faculty to deliver content, but also an opportunity for students to demonstrate what they learned.   Students can record presentations the instructor evaluates or shares with the class. Do not limit students to basic presentations with PowerPoint. If relevant to the learning objectives, allow them to make a short film, documentary or multimedia presentation in video format.  Students can also record interviews with experts for class research assignments. It is important to make sure students have access to the tools they need to develop video presentations.

While some students may be comfortable using their phone to record and edit a short video, also consider how to provide students access to cameras, microphones, lighting, and access to editing software if needed. Also consider sharing this guide for students on using Panopto: https://cer.jhu.edu/tools-and-tech/panopto-students.

Example of a Three-Minute Thesis from a SoM student. 

Tools Recommended:

Zoom, Panopto, webcamera, microphone, lighting, editing software

Instructors should not limit the use of video for content delivery. Video can also be used to engage students directly and let them contribute to the learning experience. At the most basic level, video chat sessions and office hours are an excellent way to engage students and build community.  Students commented that in large courses, live synchronous chat sessions gave them an opportunity to feel closer to the faculty.  In larger classes, it may be necessary to break students into smaller groups using features like the Zoom breakout rooms.

Other tools can allow students to engage with each other asynchronously. Students can pre-record presentations and share with peers.   Students can also create video annotated presentations using tools like VoiceThread.

You may not have to create your own video content. Search online for video content relevant to your course.  Check with your division’s library to see if they subscribe to video content available to you and your students.  Textbook publishers may also provide free supplementary video or multimedia content you can share with students.  The JHU physics department took another approach and purchased the FlipIt physics videos  originally developed at the University of Illinois when it created a new active-learning version of the core introductory physics courses.

Pre-recording Lectures

Recording lectures using video capturing tools is usually one of the easiest and most efficient ways of getting content to students in an online environment.  This section developed by Caroline Egan, School of Nursing, provides best practices for video capture and lectures. Some of these are also best practices for live delivery of lectures.   

First: organize your material.

Provide learning objectives and an outline of topics/sections at the beginning of your lecture so that students know what they will be learning. If using a slide deck, make sure every slide has a header and insert section breaks as necessary so that students can orient themselves within the material. Make sure your material is tightly aligned to your objectives. At the end, remind students what they learned.

Second: divide your material into 10- to 20-minute sections (as much as possible).

This segmentation (also called “chunking”) is crucial for ensuring that students get the break they need to mentally consolidate information while watching a recording. There has been a lot of research on the most effective length for recorded lectures – i.e., the length at which students are most likely to remain engaged and involved with the material without zoning out – and 10 – 20 minutes(ish) is considered the optimal length. With anything longer, engagement declines. This division will probably be a rough estimate, but that’s okay – you can adjust while recording or if you edit the recording. 

Third: choose a video recording or capture tool.

There are several tools available to you for recording, such as Voice-Over PowerPoint (VOPPT), Panopto, and VoiceThread. Consider the material you are recording (PPT, whiteboard, other), the number of screens you need to capture, your turnaround time for the recording, and your willingness/desire to try out unfamiliar technologies.

If you are working solely with a PPT presentation, VOPPT may be the easiest way for you to record. Panopto is a more sophisticated program with more screen capturing options (not just PPT), offers a higher quality video output, and provides some easy editing functions. NOTE: you should contact your teaching and learning center to verify the video recording tools available to your school/division and also for support and guidance on how to use them. 

Fourth: record the lecture in 10- to 20-minute sections.

First do a test to make sure everything’s functional (you are not muted, the recording is working, etc.) and then move forward. If necessary, set up a clock within your sight line so that you can ensure that your sections are 10- to 20-minutes in length. If you have a coughing fit, need to think about how best to explain a piece of content, or take a break, just stop the recording and start again. It’s usually best to start over from a pre-ordained break (like a new slide).

Fifth: complete any editing (if you’re comfortable doing so).

If you’re comfortable enough with the editing function of the recording tool, you can do light editing: further editing your content into sections, cutting out unnecessary “umms” and “ahhs” and pauses, and even doing fade-ins and fade-outs for each section.

Sixth: organize and configure all lecture content in the LMS.

This organizational step is crucial in the online environment for two reasons: it provides clear cues in an online environment about what content will be covered in each section and how long that section is so that students can mentally organize their knowledge and plan their time. It also gives students the opportunity for a self-paced experience:  they have supporting material to follow along with, take notes, stop, go back, and review certain points.

So, tell students how many sections of video they’ll be watching on this particular topic, what each section contains, and how long it is. Additionally, upload one or two PDF versions of the slide presentation– a full-color version and/or a note-taking version (both are good practices).

Example: Video for Recorded Lectures

Here is an example of an interactive video developed with Storyline 360 for a course in the Doctorate of Nursing Practice program at the School of Nursing. The lecture is on the diagnosis and management of shock, and it demonstrates the best practices for delivering recorded video lectures online:

  1. The material is organized according to the high-level steps in a disease treatment cycle: assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and management.
  2. The material is recorded as a voice-over Power Point.
  3. There are objectives and an outline of the presentation at the beginning that identify what students will be learning and the length of each presentation.
  4. The presentation is chunked into three parts, all of which are between 10 and 20 minutes in length.

There are two PDFs of the presentation for students: a full-color version and a note-taking version.

Technologies to Leverage

Equipment 

Faculty should explore what recording studios are available to them through their division's teaching and learning center.  If recording at home, consider using a separate webcamera and microphone instead of the computer's built-in camera and microphone. This will improve the quality of the production. Again, consult the divisional teaching and learning center to potentially borrow equipment or to get advice on purchasing your own. 

Software

  • Panopto (https://cer.jhu.edu/tools-and-tech/panopto) - A video cloud-hosting service that faculty can use to host videos developed in other software. Faculty can also pre-record lectures directly in Panopto that are automatically integrated into their course management system. Students can also use it to record online presentations.
  • Zoom (https://cer.jhu.edu/tools-and-tech/zoom) - An online webconferencing tool faculty can use to host synchronous classes or office hours. While faculty can record lectures in Zoom, it is recommended to use a tool like Panopto instead. It is highly recommended to avoid uploading Zoom session recordings directly in to the course management system (e.g,. Blackboard, CoursePlus) as there is a storage limit for each course site.  Upload Zoom recordings to a cloud-service like Panopto instead.  
  • Voice Thread (https://uis.jhu.edu/voicethread/) - A web-based presentation software that allows faculty or students to develop multimedia presentations annotated with audio and video.
  • Voice Over PowerPoint (School of Nursing Overview) - An easy way to create an online lecture is to record audio directly into PowerPoint and then publish the file as an online lecture (export as mp4 file and upload it to Panopto to stream).

 

Accessibility 

Faculty should consider accessibility best practices when developing their materials to make it easier for all students to access their content.

Faculty may also want to consider appying Richard Mayers' Principles of Multimedia Learning when developing video content.

(Rev. date: June 08, 2020 - 10:15pm)