It is essential that your content aligns with unit learning outcomes and assessments. Building online content for a new blended unit takes time. Those who have used blended learning have found that although there is initial time investment, it pays off in future.
ACU academics speak
As I deliver my unit again I have a digital resource... while there was... effort ...to develop it for the first time, I’m going to get efficiencies from that in the years to come.
Professor Tim McKenry - Deputy Head of School of Arts (VIC). To watch Tim's full case study follow the link.
It took a long time to produce materials for our unit. But now we’ve got that in place, it is so easy we just cut and paste it from one year to the next...now it’s saving us time.
Dr Helen Aucote - Senior Lecturer, Psychology.
Explore the following areas for ideas about technology-enhanced resources for your units.
Videos have the potential to allow us to set the context for a week’s work, explain complex material, record a scenario and importantly embed teacher presence in a unit.
Use active learning strategies
Watching a video by itself is a passive experience, and by itself has the potential to lead to shallow learning. To create an active experience that encourages depth of thinking always pair your video with a related activity. This activity should promote higher level thinking and engagement.
There are some great suggestions available on these sites:
Example 1: Unit assessment video
Assessment overview - BUSN102 - Dr Sebastian Krook, Peter Faber Business School.
Videos about a unit's assessments are appreciated by students. This example is from BUSN102 kindly provided by Dr Sebastian Krook.
Sebastian recorded this video using FLB's Pop-Up Studio, the edited and created captions in Adobe Premier Pro (ACU has license). He then used Handbrake to compress the file, before uploading it to Kaltura.
Example 2: Week 1 overview video
Week 1 overview - BUSN102 - Dr Sebastian Krook, Peter Faber Business School
This video is an example Week 1 video. It's good to keep introductory videos short to capture student's attention, share your passion for the subject and explain the rationale for the unit.
Adobe Presenter was used for short screen recordings. Sebastian edited them in iMovie on an iPad, and sometimes added in a film clip that was recorded on his iPad as well. He used Adobe Voice for short “lecture overviews”, it’s a really handy tool that works on an iPad, and is ideal for short recordings.
Example 3: Week 3 Mini lecture
Week 3 mini lecture - MUSC335 Music composition - Professor Tim McKenry, School of Music
This video is an example mini-lecture video. This example is from MUSC335 kindly provided by Professor Tim McKenry.
Tim used a screen capture program (ScreenFlow for MAC) to produce videos that he then uploaded to ACU’s Kaltura streaming server. This allowed him to give the students an experience of him discussing, demonstrating, composing music, before attending face-to-face sessions. Although Tim uses ScreenFlow for MAC there are tools available for use internally that will allow you to do screen capture. Including Adobe Presenter, Kaltura and ECHO360.
Example 4: Questions embedded in a video
Week 2 EDpuzzle - EDTS240 Technologies education - Dr Donna Gronn, School of Education
This video is an example of using EDpuzzle a tool that allows teachers to embed questions within a video they find on the internet. This example is from EDST240 kindly provided by Dr Donna Gronn.
Donna uses EDpuzzle as part of a 'flipped classroom' design, in which students work through videos and other material before class. Originally it was hard to track which students had completed the preparation work before class, EDpuzzle allows Donna to track who has watched the videos and completed the questions before the coming session.
Recording podcasts (audio files) can have benefits over videos.
- Convenience - they are easily downloaded to a portable device for 'anywhere, anytime' listening.
- Easier to make than videos.
- Uses less bandwidth.
- Allows you to embed a conversational dialogue with the student.
- Useful for those who don't want to have their face on screen
The following audio file is kindly provided by Lisa Burrell, Educational Designer for Faculty of Law and Business. She describes how you can easily create audio using, for example, your smartphone, to summarise or explain concepts, or tell a story related to your unit.
Why use audio? podcast
Design Notes: This audio file was created using the Voice Memo app on an iPhone and a lapel microphone. It was emailed and then saved onto a computer and edited (basic only to cut out some mistakes) using Audacity editing and recording software. It was then uploaded as a media file to Kaltura in LEO.
Examples in practice
- Increasing student engagement using podcasts [video]. This case study examines the use of simple audio podcasts in a fully online distance education class at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom. (COFA 2011).
- Podcasting (Deal 2007) this 15 page white paper explores educational podcasting in three realms:
the creation and distribution of lecture archives for review, the delivery of supplemental material, and assignments requiring students to produce their own podcasts.
- ACU academic Associate Professor Catherine McLoughlin and two Charles Sturt colleagues wrote, Using student generated podcasts to foster reflection and metacognition ACEC 2006 — Highly Commended paper (Mcloughlin, Lee and Chan 2006).
Audio turned into animation
This animation is an example of using Tellagami, a tool that allows teachers to record their voice on an iPhone/iPad and an animated character will speak the message. This sort of tool can be a useful option for those who feel disinclined to be on camera. Note: Tellagami is free if messages are 30 seconds or less, but costs for longer videos. Backgrounds can be imported to personalise your videos.
This example is from a primary education unit kindly provided by Dr Donna Gronn.
Week 1 Introduction using Tellagami - EDTS411 - Dr Donna Gronn, School of Education
There is a general consensus that shorter videos are best.
for video 6-9 minutes maximum is optimal to maximise student engagement (Guo & Robin 2014), shorter is even better.
- How video production affects student engagement: An empirical study of MOOC videos (Guo, Kim & Rubin 2014). Here is an earlier related blog post.
- How long should your next video be? (Fishman 2016)
Similar to videos, the general recommendation is that podcasts are short.
for audio 15 minutes maximum is optimal**, shorter is even better.
Even more important than length is the importance that a podcast have a structure: beginning, middle and an end. Try to capture the listener's attention at the beginning, integrate real-world examples and stories where possible.
**(Recommendations vary: 'no longer than 15 minutes' (Beck and Cebeci 2005), '15-20 minutes' (Harnett 2010)); other institutions have used 5-14 minutes (Abt & Barry 2007)).
Aside from student engagement, there are other practical reasons for shorter recordings:
- Smaller file sizes are easier to upload
- Shorter recordings support student flexibility in how they break up their study time
- Updating shorter recordings is easier
How is this different from ECHO360 lecture capture?
ECHO360 lecture capture is primarily designed to give students flexibility in attendance at face-to-face lectures. As such these recordings capture the entire length of a lecture. In contrast in a blended/online model, there is opportunity to develop shorter recordings which meet the recommended time parameters, and maximise student engagement.
The time it takes you or your team to create video or audio recordings will depend on your experience in making them and what access to support you have.
The length of a final recorded resource might be short, but don’t forget to factor in time for the following.
- Sourcing equipment and/or software
- Practicing with equipment and/or software
When creating recorded content consider its sustainability. The last thing you want to do is to re-record because one of your comments is out-of-date.
Avoid things that are likely to need regular update, such as:
- Mentioning dates, year, semester both in the recording and in the file name
- Talking about specific assessments (you could create an assessment video)
- Unit name, module or week number (you may wish to re-order the weeks, or delete a week in future).
- For content that unavoidably regularly changes (e.g. legislation), consider ways of minimising the need to re-record. A strategy would be recording a video about general concepts, but having an easily editable document for specifics.
- When using web-links for activities try to draw on sources that will have some longevity. So you don't need to update URLs and change activities because the sources have disappeared.
Think about sustainability of the resources...before you develop them... It’s not practical to take the lecture recording that you did last year and just go and change it because at one point in that lecture you mentioned something about 2016 and now it’s 2017. But I guarantee if you don’t...students will listen to it and complain.
Mr Adam Burston, Lecturer, School of Nursing, Midwifery & Paramedicine (QLD).
Using a consistent structure in your unit will reduce cognitive load and aid clarity for students. Your faculty LEO template is a good first step.
- Describe how the unit is structured
- Provide learners with a clear purpose for tasks
- Use consistent styling - headings, features etc
Relevant principles from the Guidelines to enhance the use of LEO:
- Presentation principle 1: Visual Design - Staff should use approved faculty template/s which encompass good practice in online visual design and consideration of usability principles.
- Presentation principle 2: Learner experience - Learner experience should feel seamless and any tools and resources (within or external to LEO) are well integrated into the unit.
- Presentation principle 3: Student expectations - Unit/Courses should address student expectations with respect to a consistent ‘look and feel’, have similar unit components arranged in a way that are easy to locate and clearly identifies what students can expect from the unit.
We have to maintain structure within our units, so that we guide our students through the learning journey. We don’t just throw them into a pool of resources.
Professor Romina Jamieson-Proctor - State Head of Education (QLD). To watch Romina's full case study follow the link.
There are various options for packaging content within a unit, your choice will depend on whether your unit is unique, or is shared across various campuses and in what way this is done.
Allows you to create a booklet of multiple pages. Allows for a contents list. See LEO Guide: Book.
Lesson is similar to book except with the added features of: Embedding quiz questions and allowing branching. It doesn’t provide a contents list. See LEO Guide: Lesson.
Equella content package
Both LEO Book and LEO Lesson are the easiest ways to package your content. When your learning materials are for a specific unit and not used across multiple units.
For units in which the same resources is across multiple units Equella is another option to use.
The strength of putting content in Equella is version control. If you want to update the content, you can update it in one place and it will be updated in all places linked to it. This can be useful when there are multiple LEO units that access the same material.
Do I need knowledge of HTML/web programming to use Equella?
No. The non-technical way of using Equella allows you to create your content in Word, turn it into a PDF and turn into a booklet in Equella. Though it is a more complex process than LEO Book or LEO Lesson.
Some faculties may have access to faculty eLearning staff that are able to do more complex things within Equella content packages.
See the left-hand menu of the LEO Guide: Equella content package.
- Provide text alternatives for non-text content. (e.g. transcripts for videos and audio)
- Provide captions and other alternatives for multimedia.
- Create content that can be presented in different ways,
including by assistive technologies, without losing meaning.
- Make it easier for users to see and hear content.
- Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
- Give users enough time to read and use content.
- Do not use content that causes seizures.
- Help users navigate and find content.
- Make text readable and understandable.
- Make content appear and operate in predictable ways.
- Help users avoid and correct mistakes.
- Maximize compatibility with current and future user tools.
The ACU Disability Services can help students with additional needs (log in required).
Relevant principles from the Guidelines to enhance the use of LEO:
- Presentation principle 4: Attribution and accessibility - Unit presentation upholds accessibility standards and acknowledges that students will interact with the unit material in diverse ways.
- Learner support resources principle 3: Learning accessibility - Students with disabilities are informed of support for learning accessibility issues.
Always consider copyright when creating your content, it is much easier attributing as you build than leaving everything until the end.
For further information about copyright see ACU Library’s Copyright for Teaching guide. It will tell you not just what you can use, but where to find it.
For information about Creative Commons.
Relevant principles from the Guidelines to enhanced the use of LEO:
- Presentation principle 4: Attribution and accessibility - Copyright material is presented and attributed correctly and appropriately, and allows for easy future updates.
Abt, G. & Barry, T. (2007) The quantitative effect of students using podcasts in a first year undergraduate exercise physiology module, BioScience Education Journal, 10. Available at http://www.bioscience.heacademy.ac. uk/journal/vol10/beej-10-8.aspx.
Berk, A., & Cebeci, Z. (2005). E-learning perceptions of undergraduate students at the Faculty of Agriculture, Çukurova University.
Deal, A. (2007). Podcasting. Carnegie Mellon. Retrieved from <https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/technology/whitepapers/Podcasting_Jun07.pdf>. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/
Guo PJ, Kim J, and Robin R (2014). How video production affects student engagement: An empirical study of MOOC videos. ACM Conference on Learning at Scale (L@S 2014); found at <http://up.csail.mit.edu/other-pubs/las2014-pguo-engagement.pdf>.
Harnett, M. (2010). A quick start guide to podcasting. Kogan Page Ltd. London UK.
Hibbert, M. (2014). What makes an online instructional video compelling? April 7. Educause Review. Retrieved from <http://er.educause.edu/articles/2014/4/what-makes-an-online-instructional-video-compelling>.
Page last updated: 2018-03-02
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