- Design a remotely delivered course focused on global pre-modern histories.
- Create video-based microlectures to be used as asynchronous course content, using several digital tools.
- Utilize a flipped approach to design learning activities using the video-based microlectures and strengthen student engagement.
ACADEMIC TECHNOLOGY TOOLs
- Zoom - a video chat tool that was used to record lecture content
- iMovie - video editing software that was used to edit the microlectures
- Vimeo/Kaltura - a video hosting service that was used to create the closed captions and transcript
- Moodle - the learning management system (LMS) where the completed videos were posted for students to view and respond
- Beginnings - FYSE 112-01, Fall 2020
The “Beginnings” First-Year Seminar introduces incoming students to global pre-modern histories by analyzing a broad range of premodern literatures and cultures, from western antiquity and medieval history to American, African, Chinese, Indian, Eurasian, and Islamic societies. In parallel, this course helps students develop the skills central to a Liberal Arts education, including critical reading, analytical thinking, and the art of discussion.
In the Fall of 2020, four faculty members co-taught the “Beginnings” first-year seminar, with each faculty member lecturing for several weeks of the semester. In this way, the course touched on multiple thematic units so that students were exposed to a vast spectrum of topics and could choose to work on areas they found most interesting and meaningful to them. Together, the faculty provided students with the tools of a historian or a scholar of literature, enabling them to develop the skill of historical and cultural text-based document analysis, which can be applied to any text or period.
Because this content needed to be delivered remotely due to COVID restrictions, the faculty needed to develop a new way of teaching this content. One of the faculty members, Hannah Hunter-Parker, was motivated to create new video-based microlectures for asynchronous learning so that more class time could be dedicated to discussion. Students were asked to review the videos and related readings outside class time and submit response papers. This resulted in increasing the synchronous class time for small group work and skill-building activities.
Creating an Effective Microlecture
Hunter-Parker turned to her experiences with social media as inspiration for how to deliver an effective video lecture and thought deeply about what would help students connect to the content. She also wanted the videos to provide space for students to create meaning and encourage them to develop their own ideas and perspectives.
To record herself providing the lecture, Hunter-Parker used Zoom. While this tool is usually used for video meetings, Hunter-Parker used the recording function to capture her lecture. She then edited it together in iMovie with panning shots of artwork, other videos, and title cards to make an engaging lecture experience. Hunter-Parker used Vimeo at that time to create closed captions and transcripts for the videos, before adding them to the Moodle courses. However, Kaltura (which is integrated into Moodle and supported by Academic Technology Services) can now be used for captioning and transcript creation as part of the process of uploading video content to Moodle.
The following video is a short clip taken from one of the microlectures created by Hunter-Parker:
One of the biggest benefits of video-based microlectures according to Hunter-Parker is that the microlectures support self-paced learning in an asynchronous context. This approach accommodated students that were studying remotely from multiple time zones - from London to LA. They could engage with materials at whatever time was conducive to their schedule and could return to the materials when preparing for larger assignments, since the videos remained available for the entire semester.
Students were provided with a writing prompt each week, to encourage them to critically analyze the group of readings and videos they reviewed. In the week that included the video clip above, students reflected on the connections between the materials. One student pointed out that “Both documents work together to catalyze the beginning of our understanding of German culture, offering both an insiders’ and an outsiders’ perspective. The intersection of myth and history is found in these interactions: myth tells us a story from the characters’ point of view, whereas history tells us a subjective, or objective, narrative of what happened.”
Hunter-Parker then used these reflections as a basis for a follow-up discussion in the next synchronous session. Integrating them as part of an ongoing series of connections with the microlectures and readings helped create continuity between the synchronous and asynchronous sessions. This approach helped students learn to make meaningful connections across ideas and develop their critical analysis.
Two Important Factors - Copyright and Digital Accessibility
- The above video clip models how to provide sources for copyrighted materials. Some content, when used for educational purposes, can fall under a category known as Fair Use. Please see the “How to-Resources” section below for more information regarding copyright and Fair Use.
- Hunter-Parker provided closed captioning and transcripts of her video content, which is an important and achievable digital accessibility goal. Resources on providing captions and transcripts are also listed below.
Going Forward - What Will Stick?
While the content covered in the videos was originally intended to be presented as an in-person lecture, Hunter-Parker discovered that using video-based microlectures provides a creative and engaging alternative. The time provided for small group reading and skill-building that was gained by taking a flipped approach is something that she does not want to lose in the return to teaching on campus.
The videos have captions and the full transcripts are also provided. To learn how to caption videos, check out these ATS links:
- How to Caption Videos (Amherst College ATS resource)
- Quick Tips for Recording Videos (Amherst College Communication Department resource)
How To Resources
- ACUE: Plan and Record Engaging Microlectures
- Thank you to ACUE for this resource, and the many faculty that took the ACUE course in the summer of 2020
- To learn more about what is and is not considered fair use, please refer to this Copyright and Fair Use guidance page provided by the Frost Library.
- It is important to obtain permission to use materials that do not fall under Fair Use guidelines.
- When possible, use Open Access materials to avoid issues with copyright.
Readings and References
- Creating Video-Based Lectures: Examples from Amherst Faculty
- Definition of Flipped Learning (from flippedlearning.org)
- What is the appropriate length of a microlesson? (EdApp)