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What Schools Can Learn from Talk Shows Right Now

May 19, 2020

If you’ve found yourself watching more TV while working and learning remotely, you’ve probably noticed something many news and talk shows have in common. They’re rebroadcasting old segments for all or a portion of their airtime.  

The TODAY Show, which is live every morning from a mix of the hosts homes and studio, repurposes its third hour with segments from pre-pandemic times – a site striking at first glance when you see face-to-face interviews but also immediately somewhat comforting to see a “normal time. Many sports channels are replaying games on repeat – old golf tournaments, Super Bowls and even Olympics. Saturday Night Live has been alternating between new episodes recorded from cast members’ homes and reruns.  

We’re all enjoying these reruns, streaming and rewatching shows on Netflix and Hulu and getting back into our favorite old movies. It’s helping us get through this unknown time, and on a broad scale, this simple concept can and should be transferred to the virtual classroom. The most successful institutions are doing it.  

Schools like Marshall B. Ketchum University, Villanova University and Western University of Health Sciences – longtime Mediasite users – pivoted most quickly to virtual learning by leveraging their large catalogues of video lectures from past semesters 

Here’s how: 

  1. Re-use academic videos from semesters past: Instead of recording a lecture at home that is very similar to one they gave last May, faculty are having students watch previously-recorded content. This is saving time that they can now use to engage with students 
  2. “Chunk older videos”: This refers to turning a longer video lecture into short, digestible snippets. Many instructors are sharing portions – five to 10 minutes – to demonstrate a particular topic. The shorter the video, the better, in most cases. Think about your attention span for an educational video.  
  3. Record new supplemental material: Using Mediasite’s personal capture software, they’re recording new supplemental videosshort commentaries – for students. They’re devoting extra time to a complex topic, for example, or sharing an anecdote to help students better understand something 
  4. Pay attention to video analytics: You’d be surprised how much you can learn from a video’s data. While analyzing data might not have been the highest priority during the initial stages of the online transition (and understandably so), now that schools are settling into a rhythm and preparing for a possible virtual fall semester, it’s time to start thinking strategically about the video content. Pay attention to analytics that show what videos students watched, when they watched and what sections were most popular. You can glean a lot from that. For example, are they focusing on one section of the video the most, and if so, what is the topic? Maybe they are having trouble understanding and they’d benefit from you creating supplemental content. Maybe they are skipping through another part that you want them to spend more time on. Really diving into this data will help you personalize learning better. Isn’t the ultimate goal right now?  

With all this in mind, it’s important to remember that asynchronous learning alone with on-demand lectures isn’t going to solve the virtual learning puzzle. Streaming video is incredibly valuable, and so is synchronous, real-time collaboration. After students view these videos they should be joining web and video conference calls for some peer-based learning to discuss what they watched.  

[Infographic: Solving the Virtual Learning Puzzle 

“Use old content as a tool to get students more engaged in new content” 

Marshall B. Ketchum University, a medical school in California, is a longtime user of Mediasite with high faculty adoption prior to the outbreak.  

“When California received the order to stay at home, we switched from in-person to over the web lectures in one weekend. The most important priority for us was to deliver a familiar experience to students,” said Matt Breneman, Director of Multimedia Services at the university that specializes in optometry, pharmacy and physician assistant studies. “Our students already watched Mediasite lecture videos through our Moodle learning management system, and most of our faculty members already used Mediasite’s personal capture software to create supplemental lecture videos. Combined with real-time collaborative calls via Zoom for small-group labs and simulations, our students are receiving a highly engaging and interactive learning experience from home.”  

In addition to recording new lecture videos, faculty are repurposing videos from past quarters. The physician assistant program alone recovered three large course modules for students to review.  

Remember, though, these recordings are from a synchronous class where the instructor is talking to a different set of students. They’re watching videos taken from PTZ cameras around the lecture hall, which is sometimes distracting to students sitting at home. Instructors can’t simply re-use old lectures and sit back and wait for questions. Make sure to record new supplemental content and address the students directly 

“Faculty have discovered re-using lectures and creating new ones is an awesome way to teach remotely, and it’s allowing them to have more interactive time with students. Use old content as a tool to get students more engaged in new content. They want to do even more flipped learning like this in the future.’ ” 

The university even changed its retention policy recently from keeping the previous quarter’s worth of lectures to an entire year’s.  

As we all navigate this unfamiliar academic landscape, think strategically about the most effective way to use and re-use videos. When things start to return to normal – whatever that new normal will look like – this flipped way of teaching will be more prevalent and sought after than ever before. While the unknowns can be scary, it will also be interesting to see how the future of education quickly unfolds.  

Learn more about how to weave flipped and active learning techniques into online classes in this blog post. Associate Professor Sehoya Cotner offers tips that have never been more relevant.   


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