I recently attended the Panopto EMEA Annual Conference in London. This conference provides an opportunity for sharing best practice and to learn about latest developments in using video for learning and teaching.
The theme this year was ‘Your video learning ecosystem’ and the agenda covered how academics are using video to enhance their students’ learning experience, how students view video creation and video learning, and how video can help solve digital learning challenges. One of the overwhelming themes of the day was the focus on active learning, and how video can be used to support active approaches.
Video to support student assessment
Video is an excellent way of helping students to develop verbal presentation skills, and at Birkbeck, University of London, Steve Hirons explained how implementing a new form of video assessment for their BSc Geology course enabled students to prepare for their final viva.
By showing some beautiful super-magnified images of rocks, Steve told us how students need to be able to demonstrate that they can describe these rocks in detail. They were originally asked to do this as a written assessment, but this wasn’t allowing the students to fully develop the competencies they needed. So instead they decided to use Panopto to allow students to upload audio or video descriptions of the rocks. These were stored in a shared folder which could be viewed by their peers, to allow debate and sharing of ideas.
Steve said that some students were initially fearful and worried about being recorded, but once they had done the recording they felt more confident in their ability to describe the rocks. Students said it helped them to be more organised when planning what to say, as they knew they would be recorded and that it could be viewed by their fellow students.
This approach enhanced the experience of distance and blended learning students, who felt part of the class through being able to share and view the audio and videos.
Scenario based learning
Jennie White from the University of Chichester, has been using video in her teaching for many years, and has won several awards for her innovation. As a Senior Lecturer in Marketing, she explained how she used video to create authentic scenarios for students to work on. Real life clients would provide a brief and ask students to pitch for it. Students would then create video pitches, which would be sent to the clients for feedback.
William Seagrim, a lecturer in law at Cardiff University, also makes use of video to create scenarios with quizzes. Using Panopto, a lecturer creates a talking head video explaining a problem or question for the students to solve. Students then watch video of a scenario being acted out to illustrate this problem. They are given time to answer multiple choice questions based on the scenario, for example, ‘what should the barrister do in this situation?’ The lecturer then talks through the answer and the scenario is acted out showing the ideal answer.
Students found this approach very engaging and said that it helped their understanding, particularly in visualising what ethical problems there might be in certain scenarios.
The first time the university created the videos they used a hired actor and camera operator. William reflected that this probably isn’t necessary, and to enable the process to be sustainable they will film using simple equipment such as iPads, and will also involve students in the filming process.
Using video for feedback
As well as using video for scenario based learning, Jennie White from Chichester, said she also uses video for marking and feedback, recording both written and audio comments, to help solve the problem of students not fully engaging with feedback. She records as she is marking, makes the video available to the student confidentially, and asks the student to say what mark they would give themselves based on the feedback and the marking criteria. Once they have done this, she reveals her mark. Allowing the students to see this marking process, helps them to understand what is being assessed and she has seen a big improvement in the quality of assignments.
Video to make us better teachers and learners
A great way of using video is to make complex topics interesting and accessible. Inés Dawson, a PhD student at the University of Oxford, is also a science communicator on her YouTube channel, Draw Curiosity. Inés uses her experience as a learner and a teacher to create short videos which start with real life examples to explain complex subjects. She is often new to certain subjects herself, so explores topics she is interested in, and by sharing it with others helps to embed her own knowledge.
Inés talked about how the fear of making mistakes and striving for perfection often leads to procrastination, and this can be magnified when faced with the prospect of making a video where it feels a mistake will be captured forever. Her approach was really inspiring and refreshing, and she talked about how YouTube can make learning more authentic; videos don’t need to be polished – if you make a mistake, own that mistake, and maybe use peer feedback to correct it. Videos could be used to show the process of finding an answer rather than the answer itself.
This approach was also reflected in a keynote from Dave Cormier, Acting Head of the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Windsor, Canada. He has been influential in developing the concept of rhizomatic learning, of recognising students’ different learning styles and allowing them to follow their own paths. A rhizome is a stem of a plant that sends out roots and shoots as it spreads. It has no beginning or end and contains many interconnected paths.
We tend to be conditioned to teach to learning objectives – and when learners have achieved these, they have ‘finished’. But, as Dave says, learning should be a continuous process, and enabling students to look for answers, rather than telling them ‘the’ answer, can help them to deal with complex subjects. It is also important for you as an educator to take risks, to encourage students to also take risks, and to grow and change ideas as they explore new concepts.
Inés’s YouTube channel is a great example of using video creation as a means to learn, which could be easily used in the classroom. It can help to highlight issues students are having trouble with, allow them to think more creatively, and move away from just remembering the correct answer by researching topics more deeply and making decisions for themselves.
Using Video for Student Assessment at Birkbeck, University of London. Panopto Case Study
Rhizomatic Learning – Why we teach? Dave’s Educational Blog