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U of Tennessee Knoxville Professor: Take A Chance on Academic Video; Your Students Want It

July 21, 2017

SallyHunterHeadshot (002)Clinical Assistant Professor Sally Hunter at The University of Tennessee Knoxville is in the midst of her 15 minutes of fame. You might have read about her in USA Today or Cosmopolitan or seen the viral post on Twitter from her student, Morgan King, that started it all.

Morgan recently emailed Hunter to say she couldn’t make it to class because she didn’t have childcare for her daughter Korbyn. To Morgan’s surprise, Hunter told her to just bring Korbyn to class next time and offered to hold Korbyn while teaching so Morgan could take notes.

Plus, UTK uses Mediasite for lecture capture, and in her email, Hunter referenced some of the Mediasite videos that Morgan should watch on-demand in the campus learning management system, Canvas, that she missed during class.

Hunter understands the importance of work-life balance. She can relate to Morgan, having had a son while in Graduate School. Read on for Hunter’s thoughts on the importance of flexibility in the classroom and embracing educational technology – all of which she fittingly talked about while folding laundry at home in between classes. Talk about work-life balance.

Q: Why did you respond to Morgan the way you did?
Because I’ve been there and know what it feels like trying to be a student and a mom. It’s really difficult and nobody can do that without support. I wanted to be just one person who was supporting her. I think we all need a community of people around us. I know I needed the support when I was in school and had my son.

I’m not the only faculty member in the Department of Child and Family Studies who has invited kids to class. It’s a very normal thing for us to have children in the classroom.

Q: How do you use Mediasite in your classroom?
In the past, I’ve recorded my lectures for fully online classes. Currently, I’m teaching my undergraduate human development course as a hybrid. In this particular course, each week we’re covering a new stage of life. The first week, for example, we study pre-natal development. The Digital Media Services department of the UT Library filmed me interviewing my pregnant friend Sarah, and we later put the interview on Mediasite. She’s talking about what it is like to be pregnant, and my students are asked to write a short paper comparing Sarah’s personal experiences with what we have learned about pre-natal development in the classroom. On Fridays, my students are home watching those types of Mediasite videos that are demonstrating the real-life concepts that we’ve been talking about all week.

My students have responded really positively to learning from actual people with Mediasite.

Q: What advice do you have for other instructors who don’t have a video strategy? Why should they embrace academic technologies?
Professors should take a chance and try a technology they might not be fully comfortable with because the students want it. Students respond so well to technology, and they can really learn a lot from things that are online. It’s good for us to jump on that trend.

It’s a flexible way to teach and learn. I’ve been using academic video for about four years now, and I have not had a negative response from a student yet. My students love watching human development videos on Fridays. The concepts I’m teaching can be hard for students to imagine in real life. For example, if I tell them a preschooler is limited by “centration” and is unable to think about multiple properties of an object (such as shape and color) simultaneously, they’ll find that hard to believe. It’s really fun to then show the students a video of a preschooler trying to count all the things that are yellow and then count all the circles, and allow the preschooler’s cognitive dissonance to prove my statement. These videos make things more real to my students.

Read more about this story in this blog post – With Mediasite, Learning Isn’t Disrupted – Even When Parenting Takes Priority.

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