August 06, 2013

Video feedback to students

Our campus is going to be transitioning to a new Learning Management System (think Blackboard or Moodle) within the next year-ish. I volunteered to be on the LMS Task Force that is part of the process for selecting the new LMS. This summer I sat through four vendor demos showing off the incredible ways that their systems worked and how great they would be for our campus.

The four that we saw all do the same basic things.  There are some faculty on our campus who have specific needs for their courses like grading discussion forums, tying rubrics to certain types of assignments, various uses of calendars and other specific needs. Most of the systems actually seemed (on first glance) to handle most of these needs, although some seemed easier than others to set up and use.

What struck me as something new was that all four of the vendors featured the ability for instructors to provide video feedback to students via the LMS. I mean that it was a prominent part of each of the demos that all of the reps glowed about. I think that all of the video feedback implementations were via screencast, but I think most also weirdly included a recorded webcam session of the instructor talking to the student. I've been assigning students to do screencasts as homework for the past few years now, so I am no stranger to students and instructors communicating via screencast. Depending on the need, I've found it useful to post feedback as a screencast to students, but never my talking head.   

I asked some of the reps if the video feature worked for the students to post to the instructor or rest of the class.  It was clear that some of the LMSs had the ability, but none of them were intending for that use, which I found a bit disappointing.

So why are so many of these companies showcasing this feature? Are faculty using it? Do students like it?  Does it facilitate learning?  I feel that I have a pretty good pulse of the physics teaching community, and I don't see anyone using video communication as faculty-to-single-student transmission only.  Nor do I have a sense that instructors at my school want that either.  But, I could be missing a segment of teachers who find it to be really valuable.  If so, I'd be interested in hearing who is using it.


arundquist said...

I do this kind of thing all the time. In fact, I did a count of my videos and found that over half are of this variety (the other half are scasts for the whole class). I really like it for essays the most.

Andrew said...

Yes, but you're very much at the forefront of effectively using screencasting for assessment and feedback. :-)

I do screencast replies to some (not all) of the assignments I get from the class, but I've never done a webcam-style headshot video of feedback for either individual students or the whole class. That's what I thought was really weird to promote as a feature of the LMS.

The other part that I was wondering about was the fact that it was so prominently featured as a built-in component to the LMS. I guess it is supposed to be more convenient than doing a video with installed software on your computer? I don't know...I guess my workflow involves using email to communicate with students more than using the LMS.

John Burk said...

I think companies may do this because it looks futuristic. Just like how back in the 80's and 90's video phone calls were a feature of almost every futuristic advertisement or science fiction movie. It's an easy way to say "we're modern."