Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Using Vlog Posts to Teach Undergraduates: The New Homework Assignment?

Persuasion Part One from Joshua DeLung on Vimeo.

Now that you've watched the video, perhaps I should do some explaining. Because of changes in the schedule during the last semester I taught Public Speaking classes at Virginia Tech, I had to change one of my in-class days to an online day. Normally, this would mean simply conveying material and assignments via boring old text on each section's Blackboard site for the course. I decided, however, given my interest in social media, to use a vlog post for the out-of-the-classroom instruction that day.

My students were instructed to watch the approximately 17-minute video and follow the instructions therein. In retrospect, I wish I would have had time to make the production better and come up with different scenes to use as examples and such to make it all more interesting. I didn't have much time to plan though, as I only got the notes I needed from higher up a day or two before I had to get everything up online for my students. If I ever did this again, I would try to get a videographer so I didn't have to stay fixed in front of my MacBook Pro's iSight the entire time, and I would get hopped up on caffeine to convey the energy I normally have when up walking around in front of a class on normal days.

Now, what my class may not have realized so much was that I was primarily running an experiment on them. Yeah, and I didn't even consult the IRB! Ha, well it was informal research for quality control purposes, and I'm pretty sure they didn't suffer any negative consequences. fI told them they could voluntarily participate in a survey to help me learn more about using social media to teach today's undergraduates, and I think I did learn something! So now, I'm finally going to go through and review the results of that survey to share with you in hopes that you can learn something as well:

I found the vlog experience for class to be:


10 (28%)

13 (36%)

9 (25%)

3 ( 8%)

1 ( 3%)
no answer 0 ( 0%)

As you can see here, 64 percent of the students had more fun with a vlog assignment than with other previous homework assignments.

Rate the vlog's ability to keep your attention on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being the most boring to 7 being able to keep your attention the best.


2 ( 6%)

2 ( 6%)

5 (14%)

4 (11%)

14 (39%)

8 (22%)

1 ( 3%)
no answer 0 ( 0%)

OK, I'll admit I wasn't my most energetic in this vlog, which is something I can learn from and improve upon next time. However, judging from the middle response upward, 75 percent of the students didn't find the post boring if four is neutral on this scale.

Please rate the ability of this learning tool in helping you learn the concepts in comparison to normal in-class lecture with 1 being a low ability and 7 being a high ability.


2 ( 6%)

1 ( 3%)

4 (11%)

9 (25%)

10 (28%)

6 (17%)

4 (11%)
no answer 0 ( 0%)

Only 20 percent of the students who responded said they felt that the vlog post was not as good as in-class lecture for them, 25 percent responded in the neutral zone, and 56 percent actually found the video to be a superior learning method.

Before, you rated this learning tool in comparison to in-class lecture. Now, please rate the ability of the vlog to help you learn in comparison to other out-of-class reading assignments, etc., with 1 being the lowest quality of learning and 7 being the highest.


2 ( 6%)

0 ( 0%)

1 ( 3%)

7 (19%)

6 (17%)

12 (33%)

8 (22%)
no answer 0 ( 0%)

These numbers seem to indicate that 72 percent of the students felt like they learned more from the vlog post than a traditional homework assignment. Only 9 percent were in the range that indicated they felt the vlog post was an inferior homework assignment in terms of how it helped them learn.

How does the use of a social media tool such as a vlog post impact your perception of the Public Speaking course?


4 (11%)

18 (50%)

12 (33%)

1 ( 3%)

1 ( 3%)
no answer 0 ( 0%)

Sixty-one percent of the respondents said incorporating social media into the class makes them view the course at least somewhat more favorably. Perhaps there is something to be learned here about how much more receptive we can make students if we relate to them and meet them on their own turf, which for this generation, is social networking sites. However, 33 percent of the students didn't really care one way or the other, and two students actually must hate social media or something (communists).

I also solicited three open-ended qualitative responses from the students, some of the most insightful comments I will share as well:

What could be done to make this learning tool more interesting so that it keeps your attention better?

"More graphics popping up. More humor, more energy. Interactivity somehow, maybe?"

"I have trouble paying attention to an online learning tool because there are so many other distractions available on one's computer."

"I liked how the important messages were shown in writing."

"Instead of one long vlog, maybe several shorter ones."

"Maybe show a little more than just your face."

"It kept my attention very well throughout the lecture."

"Juggling. Just kidding, it was good as is."

What could be changed to make this learning tool help you learn the concepts within even better?

"Video clips of examples embedded throughout."

"It was good the way it is because I have the ability to watch it over again for things I missed."

"I took some notes during the video. Maybe a quiz directly afterward on Blackboard would help reinforce the concepts."

"More graphics and bullet points on the screen, and downloadable companion documents."

"I really liked how the main points were shown on the screen while you were talking. Maybe attach an outline of some sort in e-mail, so we can have something to take notes on as we follow along."

Please leave any other general comments you might have about the use of the video post for the Unit V Part One Persuasion class in Mr. DeLung's Public Speaking class. Feel free to be honest and candid. Also feel free to make suggestions about future uses of social media such as discussion boards, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, etc. Any other general feedback about the course at this point is also welcome.

"I think this is a great tool that has been utilized and that it shows how good technology really has become. It gives interaction with the instructor and provides a great learning tool for the students."

"
I liked the vlog because if I needed to hear something again I could go back and listen to it. I was also able to take detailed notes about the topics. For topics that cannot be covered in class, this is a great way to appeal to students by not giving them a huge assignment or reading to cover, but allowing them to hear and understand concepts as if they were in class. I've enjoyed this class a lot and you have done a wonderful job teaching it. Thank you for all your feedback and hard work!"

"
By using any social media I believe it makes the class seem more interesting, just because that is what everyone does these days in their free time so it makes the class feel like less work even though it is not."

"
I thought it was really great. I was watching and just thinking to myself how cool it was that I was listening to a lecture from my actual professor and he was talking directly to me. I liked it a lot."

"
I really enjoyed the vlog more so than just the average online days. It was much easier to obtain the information I needed to know. Many times during the semester, my oline days were wasted just flipping through pages in a book. I have always been a fan of lectures online or inclass and not a fan of general book reading. I think that this technique should be used in the future for other COMM classes. I did feel engaged in the work. When I saw that the video was 17 minutes long I anticipated something quite boring, but my attention was held and I didn't even look at the time once. Nice job!"

So there you have it folks! I feel like I learned a lot from this experience and from letting my students give me some feedback. I'm not sure how soon in the future I'll be teaching again, but I know that if I do I will definitely keep my teaching methods up-to-date with technology, as many students really seemed to relate to and have fun with this assignment. I strongly feel that nothing can replace good in-class lecturing from an enthusiastic and experienced professor, but from time to time, students need a break and some flexibility and the vlog post class seems to provide that. I welcome thoughts from other educators and/or students in the comments section!

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

Class Boring? It's (Maybe) Not Your Fault!

Class Boring? It's (Probably) Your Fault!

Have a Question? Ask Facebook.

10 Tips for Acing Comprehensive Exams

Social Media Survey Results, Discussion

Writing?!?! Like with Pen and Paper?

It's Not Hazing, It's Mentoring

No comments: