There is Much Potential for Video in Higher Education: It’s worth trying!

Case study: Copenhagen Business School

Assistant Professor Till Winkler has been intensely using video as part of his teaching at Copenhagen Business School (CBS). He is one of an increasing number of lecturers at CBS who use video to support their teaching by recording lectures, flipping the classroom, and creating a more blended in-class and online learning experience. Till shared with us some of the lessons he learned on his journey of using video in teaching. These experiences may inspire other readers on how video technologies can help adding quality and flexibility to teaching, as well as enable better control and allow the design of courses that address the increasing quality and efficiency pressures in higher education.

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Professor Winkler in a studio recording on Panopto Viewer

Simple Question: Why Video?

According to Till, video can be a valuable teaching tool for several reasons:

  • Providing a service for students to facilitate learning

Firstly, our interviewee explains that he started providing recorded lectures as an extra service to the students who were not able to attend his classes due to different reasons:

“Some people cannot make it to class, some have part-time jobs and parallel classes, so I thought it would be useful for those who can’t attend.”

Moreover, the professor wants to help his students to have access to the recorded lectures, if they need to study or recap before the exam:

<…> if they want to go back to the material and see what I have been saying about a specific topic or to a specific slide, they can do that easily for studying for the exam.”  

This not only helps the ones with special disabilities, but also addresses the various learning needs of the students.

  • Keeping guest talks and other special content for future use

Till described a situation arising during one of his elective courses, where he had a lot of guest speakers. Some of the guest speakers were coming in from far away. Therefore, he felt that he would waste the guests’ time, if they had to come every semester again, while still wanting to keep their contribution to the course:

“I found it not very optimal to have these people coming in every semester to tell similar things. <…> Their time is also precious and valuable. For example, one of them was a CIO driving down from Århus (a city in Northern Denmark, which is more than a three hours’ drive to Copenhagen) to CBS just for our talk.”

At first, he arranged with the video team at CBS to set up the equipment and record his guest speakers. After he saw how easy it was, he simply borrowed the recording equipment and recorded all subsequent talks himself, without the need for further assistance.

“I keep the recording and reuse it the next year without these speakers having to come in personally.”

Video recording was the perfect solution that could save his guest speakers’ time and maintain their contribution to his lectures.

  • Flipping the classroom and using in-class time more effectively

To record his lectures, Till has been using Panopto’s video solution. After having gotten more familiar with Panopto, he came to a point where he was ready to take his recordings to the next level and further develop his elective course “into something that is more online/offline blended or more of a flipped type of course”, as he described it. He admitted that he had gotten somewhat tired of repeating the same lecture every semester, and thus video opened a more exciting new way of teaching here. He said:

“It became bit dull to go there every year and explain the same content to the students that I already provided last year, like in a bad theatre. I felt, this was neither really rewarding for the students, nor very efficient for me.”

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Professor Winkler in a home recording on Panopto Viewer

That was one of the motivations for him to invest his time into the development of a blended course which included several sessions provided fully online. In the future, he plans to use these lectures to “flip” the classroom and thereby save valuable classroom time for more discussion and interaction. The “theatre” will then be left for the students to watch at home before and prepare each session.

  • Enabling better control and tracking the learning progress

In the process of developing the online material for this blended course, Till also began to recognize one additional benefit. Through packing all the lecture content into videos of 4-6 minutes and combining them with online activities such as quizzes, polls, and essays, he would be completely in control of the activities and objectives of each session. In comparison, Till admits that a lecturer’s performance may vary in traditional classroom teaching:

“When you go to the class, it’s a bit situational, there might be good weather, bad weather, you might be in a good mood or bad mood, so the class can sometimes take a different trajectory. After some sessions you go and think, ‘oh, this was a great class!’, and in the others you think, ‘I could have done better this’ or ‘I lost too much time on this or that discussion’. So there are lot of outside factors you can’t control.”

Therefore, using video not only solved some of the perceived inefficiencies mentioned above. It also enabled Till to design and track the learning progress of each student by the lectures that they viewed and the online activities they participated in.

Professor Winkler managed to adapt his pedagogical work to this new medium, using the Panopto video recording solution with the university’s learning management system:

“<…> You design the video lectures, you script them, you record them, you can make them as you like. And then you design the online activities, so, you control a lot. And you can see the participation of the students, if they participate. That’s another aspect I learned to like and that I used intensively to give the students feedback.”

Disregarding the fact that it took quite some time to script and record the lectures, he estimates that this effort will pay off in the long run. At least in the case of his course, he feels it’s the right way to go for both him and the students, to create his material once with a high level of quality and then continue to use and reuse it—while improving it gradually—over the coming years.

Students’ Feedback on Online Learning:

Professor Winkler was positively surprised about students’ feedback on his online classes. Responding to the question ‘Was the teacher able to engage me in class?’, students gave quite a good evaluation even though his sessions were provided online. Students felt engaged even though they would see these videos comfortably sitting at home or anywhere else. While reviewing the students’ feedback on the qualitative evaluation, he found most of the comments very encouraging:

“I realized students were feeling more engaged because they can do it at their own pace. While they are in class, the teacher might get involved in discussions with one of the students and then the others they just switch off and focus on something else. So, that’s why apparently many of them feel more engaged than in the classroom. It was actually quite interesting to learn about that.”

He speculates that this might have happened because students feel the proximity of their professor, like in a “one-on-one” session with their teacher while watching the recorded videos. In contrast, the classroom environment can cause distractions, when students are sitting in a classroom, leading them to feel less engaged in the lecture.

How Can Other Teachers Benefit from Using Video?

Remote Workforce: Teachers deliver quality from anywhere

Professor Winkler mentioned that during parts of the semester in which his course ran he was abroad for a research stay in the U.S. Due to the online format, however, this did not affect his teaching at all. Being able to record his lectures and provide them to the students in Denmark in an asynchronous manner gave him the flexibility needed to fulfil his teaching obligations, while not having to compromise on his research activities abroad. This is one of the great opportunities that video lecturing offers to researchers that teach in higher education.

Video especially suited for “concept heavy” courses

Although our interviewee mentioned a number of benefits related to video-supported learning, he also added that his course was a comparably “concept heavy” one, i.e. one that requires students to grasp quite a number of different theories and frameworks. Video lecturing was particularly well suited to provide this “one way” information transfer online. He says:

“In fact I had realised that the course was very concept heavy in nature, maybe even a bit too heavy for the attention span of students who would sit there and listen to a full lecture all at once.”

Through watching the videos at home, students get the opportunity to study these heavy parts at their own pace and at the time and place that is convenient for them.

“It’s worth trying!”

We asked Till what advice he could give to other teachers who would like to start using video for their teaching.  His response was simple: He sees it as a learning journey in which every teacher should try to experiment and find their own way on how to use the videos. After all, the application of this medium depends a lot on the course content and the current ways of teaching the course, but according to him, “it’s worth trying it.”

As for students, he believes: “Students simply feel it’s just a timely thing to do. It almost seems anachronistic to go to class and listen to someone talking for two hours. That’s maybe not the way how learning works in the 21st century. 

If you’re interested in trying out Panopto, the video solution used by Till Winkler at CBS, please, contact our team to receive a personalized demo, or sign up for a 30-day trial.

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