Desktop Video Recording – enhancing student & staff experiences in the online environment
(David Hepworth. Senior Lecturer, Lifelong and Interprofessional Learning)
This article aims to demonstrate what a versatile tool Relay
is and to encourage you to use it if you haven’t already done so. It concludes with a short Relay video demonstrating how easy it is to set up and use.
It does this giving examples of:
- Video “guided tour” of Blackboard site
- An assignment tutorial video
- Enhancing teaching materials
- Enhancing consistency of marking / feedback
- Various other means of supporting colleagues
- Feedback from students / colleagues highlighting its value
Initial challenges / opportunities
It is recommended that Blackboard sites should include a “video tour” which guides students regarding the content of the site.
Most of the modules that I run are predominantly or exclusively delivered online and I started using Camtasia Relay in an attempt to give students studying at distance a clear indication of the layout of the Blackboard site and how to engage with it.
The video takes a few minutes to make and by loading it to Pebblepad a web link / URL can easily be created (which saves uploading the large file format). As well as embedding this link in Blackboard (image left) students can be emailed it prior to commencing the module.
With over a hundred students studying the module at distance I would anticipate no more than a couple needing to contact me with questions regarding layout / accessing materials.
Here’s a typical guided tour: Video Guided Tour (opens in a new window)
A logical development of this was to produce video tutorials relating to assignments, embedded in an “Assignment Supporting Materials” folder along with a couple of assignment exemplars.
These give a detailed overview of the assignment and are built into one of the early module activities. They evaluate particularly well with students (and External Examiners) and result in very few general questions regarding assignment layout and content.
The EBP module (Level 6 Evidence Based Practice) runs independently as both classroom and purely online delivery. The classroom students receive a detailed face to face discussion in relation to the assignment yet levels of attainment between the two cohorts (composed of very similar students) have been equivalent for several years, despite the online cohort growing from ten to over a hundred students per semester.
The assignment tutorial videos take less than half an hour to produce / embed. They serve as an invaluable resource for all students, evaluating well and resulting in significant time savings from a tutor perspective.
Here’s a typical example: Assignment Video Tutorial Example (opens in a new window)
Potential for enhancing teaching materials
It is apparent that a good number of students struggle to develop good search
skills using online databases such as One Search – even those at Level 7 (see feedback below).
I therefore produced a structured “search package” which developed into a
teaching resource that can be easily adapted and deployed across a range of
modules, forming the basis of a full weekly or fortnightly online activity.
It has proved a very popular resource with students and gives them a high
degree of confidence in their search skills.
- Here’s the basic search skills tutorial: Basic Search Skills Tutorial Video (opens in a new window)
- Followed by a document in which this is woven into a set of activities (including locating a decent article on avoiding plagiarism): Search Skills Activities (opens in a new window)
From the above it is easy to add an activity whereby students seek out a specific article / piece of research that you have in mind, on which an online activity can be built.
I use variations of this format in a number of modules – for students starting their studies at Levels 5/6, as well as on a number of Masters Level modules. Recent feedback from a Level 7 student highlighted its value:
Enhancing other aspects of teaching and learning
Achieving consistency of marking and feedback has been a challenge as student numbers have increased significantly in the last 2 years and the marking team has expanded accordingly. In order to enhance consistency I have produced a range of materials to support staff.
The objective is to go through an assignment, discussing general aspects such as providing feedback in line with the University’s Good Principles for Providing Feedback, along with subject specific aspects.
I embed these in a Content Area (not available to students)
which staff can access.
These materials have demonstrated their worth significantly. Various members of staff who are new to working in Higher Education have undertaken marking on the module and have been commended by the External Examiner in relation to the consistency of marking and quality of feedback (including using the audio facility).
I have also produced a number of video guides such as:
Guide to producing audio feedback – using the Audio Facility in Turnitin / GradeMark (opens in a new window).
I have also mentored a number of new members of staff in setting up Blackboard and using Turnitin. A useful feature of Relay is that it can record these sessions and I can send the colleague the link to them for future reference.
Lessons Learned / observations
Make sure that any resources that you produce remain confidential. The Staff Support Materials above evaluate well but I need to remake part of them as one of the videos identifies the name of a student as I discuss part of an assignment. Care / planning ahead is essential in this regard.
The resources above evaluate well with students, staff and external stakeholders. They demonstrate how the clarity of Blackboard sites can be enhanced, increasing the ability of students to navigate independently. They also demonstrate opportunities for enhancing teaching / learning – with students and colleagues.
Fancy Learning to Use Camtasia Relay ?
A number of staff have expressed an interest in using Relay.
Here’s a short video demonstrating how very easy it is to set up and use. (opens in a new window). The audio is slightly dodgy in the middle – first time for everything!
Please contact me if you have any suggestions / feedback or if you think that I can be of assistance in any way.
Telephone: 01524 384199