In the statistical methods courses I teach in the medical school, my students are almost all MD’s that juggle clinical service, classwork, and conferences. Because they miss occasional classes and I wanted to give them a way to catch up, we’ve been recording every lecture for the past year with Echo 360. Within 30 minutes of the end of class, the video of both me and whatever I project on the screen is automatically available. It’s worked well enough that I decided to do the same thing in my undergraduate econometrics class this fall. I thought it would be useful, but I didn’t know for sure since it had never been done for a big (150+ student) undergraduate lecture at Yale before. I was also a little worried that none of my students would show up for my lectures if they had the option of watching from their rooms, but this didn’t happen. It turns out the students absolutely loved the video lectures even when they came to class.
In our end of semester survey (response rate: 40%), 63% of students said they found the video lectures very helpful and another 25% said they were a little helpful. That’s almost as positive as they were about Piazza for something that required almost zero work on my part. 39% of the students who answered my survey said they often watched lectures on video (often at 1.5x or 2x) instead of attending class. This was more convenient and saved them time, and several students liked being able to pause and replay the difficult parts:
The recorded lectures made a huge difference. Being in class was helpful because it was more interactive (hearing other students’ questions, using clickers, etc.), but I often left large portions of a page blank because I could not copy the notes fast enough. Having the videos as a backup was really nice. I also might have learned more efficiently by watching the videos because I could pause, rewind, and take the time to think about the slides or what had been said. It’s hard to remember all of the confusing moments of lecture and then rewatch them hours later; it’s easy to stop the video when something is confusing and try to understand it then and there.
By the day after the last lecture, 86% of the class had watched at least a few minutes of video, and 52% had watched at least two hours. On average, students watched about 4.5 hours of video during the semester. 61% watched more video during reading week as they prepared for the final exam, and this group averaged almost 3 hours each during that week.
If you are at Yale and you want to try it, the first thing to do is contact John Harford in Yale’s Communication and Collaboration Technlogies group. He will tell you what classrooms are outfitted with the appropriate hardware and set everything up on the server side. One important thing to keep in mind is that anything you write on the board probably won’t be legible on the video. I highly recommend using a tablet to annotate slides. It takes a little getting used to, but it’s a small price to pay for the substantial student benefit.