The goal of any new piece of educational technology is to facilitate the learning experience. Sometimes that can mean diversifying the method in which material is presented to students to take advantage of the different ways people absorb information. Much of the focus of burgeoning technological advancements in the education field is centered on personalizing a lesson plan for each student. Any new technological implementation that can engage a student more effectively and cultivate enthusiasm for the given material is a major asset for educators. One program launched at a Massachusetts college has aided professors' abilities to create appealing coursework while also providing the flexibility to target individual students.
Finding a new way to reach students
Faculty members at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, have been increasingly integrating video into their lesson plans over the last few years. The program began in earnest as an extension of past efforts to provide students with video-based educational content through slide presentations and instructor-created pieces recorded inside the college's recording studio. Those methods, however, proved to be unsatisfactory the resulting content was generally subpar. Additionally, the videos required the expertise of the college's instructional technology team, which limited the amount of content that could be created at any given time. When administrators began looking for a simpler alternative, they landed on a web-based service that allows both faculty and students to easily create and upload videos to be shared with a class. Campus Technology reported that, since the revamped program launched, nearly 60 percent of the college's professors are now integrating video-based coursework into their lesson plans.
A large reason for the increased adoption rates of the new video service has been the ease with which students and faculty alike can create content, upload it to a server and share it with others. The college contracted Brainshark, a company that specializes in presentation software, to supply it with the tools needed to launch the program. By hosting content on its cloud-based server, Brainshark allows users to quickly and easily publish videos that can accessed by others on campus.
Engaging students through mobile devices
One aspect that administrators knew would be vital to the success of the program would be access to the service through mobile devices. The use of smartphones and tablet devices has exploded over the last few years. According to a report issued by GSMA, the total number of mobile connections will rise to 7.4 billion over the course of 2013. That number would outpace the current growth of the entire human population. With so many students now carrying mobile devices on campus, it was vital for educators to be able to engage students through them. Students can view material away from a classroom computer, greatly increasing their accessibility of the coursework. Regardless what operating system a student's device is running on, Brainshark's software uses a video player that detects what type of device is being used to view the content and displays the video with the correct plug-ins. If a professor chooses, he or she can also add interactive content such as polls and quiz questions, although these features are currently available to iOS and Android mobile devices only.
Creating customizable content
The new program has allowed professors to practice a new way to present material that engages students while allowing for some flexibility to create individualized material. Faculty members can craft the bulk of a presentation around content that can be reused from semester to semester. However, they can tweak the slides to address specific student questions or tie the material in with something that came up in an earlier class. These adaptive qualities provide the convenience for professors to create material that does not need to be updated with each passing year, but still allows them to tweak the coursework for specific classes.
The video service has proven to be a rousing success for both Babson faculty and students. By implementing a system that stresses customization and accessibility, the college has provided professors with the tools to teach their students in a personalized and engaging fashion.
Should video-based content be implemented on a larger scale? Are universities doing enough to take advantage of the proliferation of mobile devices among college students? Tell us what you think in the comment section below!