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Tag: Video

Annotate Videos for Use in Your Courses

In the world of online, blended, hybrid, and “flipped” courses, video is one of the things that separates an average learning experience from an exceptional one. Unfortunately, the majority of videos–70%? 80%? quite possibly more, based on personal observations over the past several years–in these types of courses follow the same general model: a narrated slide presentation or screencast, sometimes a recording of a live lecture or webinar-style presentation. Video, in these cases, is really just a substitute for conducting an in-person lecture. And, like it or not, that isn’t something most students  consider particularly exciting.

But course videos don’t have to be warmed-over lectures. Video has some real strengths when it comes to things like establishing social presence (a topic I’ve written about previously on this blog), demonstrating actions or phenomena that need to be observed visually to be fully understood, or leveraging the potential of multimedia learning to draw out and illustrate connections between concepts. Of course, making videos that do those things can be both difficult and time-consuming–and if there’s one thing that most faculty don’t have a lot of, it’s time.

So what can you do if you want to create more than a voiceover of your lecture slides but don’t have the time or skills needed to do so? One potential answer is video annotation. The idea is simple: take an existing video that someone else has produced and generously uploaded for public viewing and then add annotations that guide students through it, thereby connecting it to the specific topics or activities in your course. Carefully annotated, a video becomes something more than a lecture intended to convey information. Instead, at its best it functions as an exercise in modeling for students a thought process or a line of inquiry. An well-annotated video can establish a kind of dialogue between the video’s content and the larger conceptual or theoretical structures of the course or program of study. It can invite students to explore or understand a topic more deeply, and to connect that topic to others they have studied, rather than passively view and process simply for its informational content.

Video annotations can work in a number of different ways, depending on the specific tool being used to create and display them, but the general idea is to attach notes, usually in the form of text (although some tool support images and multimedia), to specific spans of time within the video. Once the annotations have been created, many annotation tools allow the viewer either to watch the full video and see the annotations displayed in a synchronized fashion as it plays or, alternatively, to jump immediately to specific portions of the video based on a selected annotation.

Some video annotation tools can also facilitate individual or group annotation by students, opening up a variety of possibilities for student projects or, potentially, for moving course discussions out of traditional threaded forums or message boards and into a world where comments are attached directly to the object of study itself.

Used thoughtfully and creatively, annotated videos provide numerous ways to move beyond the conventional video lecture in an online or hybrid course. In a companion post, coming soon, I’ll highlight a couple of free tools that you can start using right away to experiment with video annotation in your own courses. Stay tuned!

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Why you should appear (at least sometimes) in your course videos

First, a shameless plug: EvCC instructor Joe Graber and I will be teaming up to offer a one-hour workshop on October 3 on using the EvCC lightboard, built by a team of engineering faculty, to create engaging and effective instructional videos. If you haven’t already done so, mark your calendar!

With videos on my mind recently, and with this being a time of the year when many faculty are creating new videos to share with their students, I thought it might be useful to address a couple of the myths, misperceptions, and generalizations about instructional videos that I encounter most frequently.

Students don’t need to see me in videos. All they need to see are my slides and the information I’m presenting. (Besides, I hate being on camera!)

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See the EvCC lightboard in action

Last Thursday’s Opening Week session on “Cool things faculty are doing in the classroom,” facilitated by my colleague Peg, was great fun–and a good chance for me to find out more about some of the thoughtful and innovative work EvCC faculty are doing. I learned something from every presenter, and as a result my notebook is now brimming with new ideas for future workshops, conversations, and potential blog posts.

For now, though, I’ll mention just one of the cool things from the session: Joe Graber’s demonstration of the lightboard he and some of his EvCC engineering colleagues have constructed over the past year and are now using to create videos for their courses. What’s a lightboard, you ask? It’s essentially a transparent, edge-illuminated chalkboard you can use to create videos that show you and what you’re writing at the same time. If that’s hard to envision, take a look at this demonstration video that Joe has created to show off some of the lightboard’s uses and capabilities:

This is DIY educational technology at its best!

Joe will be hosting an informal demonstration at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 19, in Whitehorse 109 if you want to stop by to take a quick look. Later this fall, we’ll also be offering a workshop on creating videos using the lightboard, combining a discussion of best practices in planning and structuring lightboard videos with an opportunity to visit the lightboard studio and give it a try yourself.

[Update 9/20/2017 — Joe an I will be facilitating a workshop on October 3, at noon, in Whitehorse 105. We’ll discuss recommendations for creating effective videos using the lightboard, then spend some time putting it through it’s paces. Light snacks will be provided, but bring your lunch — and your curiosity! For complete details, see our schedule of upcoming workshops.]

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Panopto’s long tail

Last week I posted briefly about exploring some simple data showing how many EvCC courses use Canvas. This time around I’m turning my attention to Panopto, our video content management platform. Extracting useful information out of Panopto is a bit harder, so I figured I’d start with something simple: the total number of video hours viewed by (anonymized) course.

Let’s take a look:

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Video and audio feedback in Canvas

Grading assignments can consume a lot of time and energy, and if your experiences are similar to mine, there are occasions where you feel like you are typing the same comments over and over again.  Providing feedback in video or audio form can breathe new life into your grading process.  Your tone of voice, inflections, and emphasis can add a richness to the feedback that isn’t easily duplicated in text alone.  This approach can be refreshing for both you and your students, and it provides an opportunity to engage differently and add another dimension to your presence in the class.  This is especially true in online and hybrid classes.

Canvas streamlines the feedback process in the SpeedGrader, whether you choose text, an attached file, audio, or video.  All the options are described in this Canvas document on providing feedback.  Recording an audio or video file happens right in Canvas.  You don’t have to use external software to create and save the file.  It’s a seamless and approachable process, so long as you have the necessary hardware (a microphone and webcam).

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Incorporating a personal video into Canvas

The Spring quarter is just around the corner (if calendars and dates have edges and corners), which is the perfect time to think about and incorporate new features into your classes.

A brief video introduction can enhance your class and foster feelings of connectedness for your students, whether you teach web enhanced, hybrid, or online courses.  The effort required on your part is minimal, and the return on investment is impressive.

Access the Video Introduction Handout with step-by-step instructions and listen to the podcast on the topic.  An Uploading a Video transcript of the podcast is also available.  More Teaching and Tools podcasts are available on our Soundcloud channel with additional episodes in production!

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Helping students get more out of studying

Consider this a companion post to a message sent out just this morning my colleague Peg. Peg brought to our attention a blog post by Maryellen Weimer on the topic of helping students study effectively for final exams. There’s some great student-focused advice in that post. Reading it jogged my memory and prompted me to track down a series of YouTube videos by Professor Stephen Chew of Samford University (Alabama) that I first encountered several years ago. Chew is a psychologist who studies how people learn, and in his videos he uses some core principles of educational psychology and cognitive science to help students understand how to study and learn more effectively.

What are some of those principles?

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“It’s not going to be comfortable…and that’s okay”

Late last quarter I had the opportunity to chat with EvCC’s Penny Perka about a series of short, informal introductory videos she had created for her College Success courses. Penny’s goal was to increase what is sometimes called “instructor presence” or “social presence” in online class environments, where students can sometimes feel less connected to each other and their instructor than they do in face-to-face classroom settings.

Penny was kind (and brave!) enough to let me film our conversation, a few highlights of which are included in this short video, along with a few clips from some of the videos Penny created:

Although we covered a number of topics, Penny’s emphasis on trying new things and putting herself in the position of her students was particularly inspiring to me.

Though not included in the video, Penny also shared a few important lessons she had learned when creating short videos for her course:

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