It can be difficult to build a sense of community in an online course (Moskal et al., 2010), especially in mathematics where written work is usually somewhat limited. I find that regular class discussions provide a considerable benefit in this process. But the practice that has most effectively improved connections between students and between me and the students has been requiring the students to create 3-5 minute video presentations of themselves explaining how to work a homework problem from the course. As a review before unit exams and the final exam (two to four times during a semester), my online students are required to create and post these presentations and then view and respond to at least two of their classmates’ presentations in the context of a Blackboard discussion.
Benefits of these Student Review Videos (DeMara, Salehi, & Muttineni, 2016):
- Students master at least the topics they present. It increases their confidence on this material since they have taught the problem to others.
- It’s more interesting to listen to fellow students present review examples than to watch more professor-made review videos.
- Students get to know each other in a way that is not possible through other interactions in the online course.
- As the professor, I also get to know my students in a much more personal way through these videos.
- Often I find some student videos that I can make available for supplementary video solutions in future semesters of these online courses (with the student’s permission, of course).
Link to example artifact(s)
- Instructor: Paul Seeburger, Monroe Community College
- Course Title: Mathematics
This PowerPoint presentation showcases this strategy. File: StudentVideosSeeburger.pdf
For each of these Video Presentation discussion posts, students use a course wiki to post their topic and specific exercises they plan to present a few days before the video post is due. This helps me oversee the spread of the topics and be sure there is more variety rather than multiple students choosing the easiest topic.
As stated above, students are required to explain how to work the problem step-by-step from start to finish. They are given bonus points for writing it out clearly as they go or for a particularly clear and helpful video presentation. Visual verification of the result using a graphing applet is encouraged. Problems can be chosen for the videos from the assigned textbook problems, from WeBWorK problem sets, or the student can create their own problem.
Students are required to watch and respond to at least two of their classmates’ video posts for each of these review discussions. Good students will watch and respond to most of them.
I grade the video presentations on correctness, clarity, and on the overall quality of the presentation. I am fairly generous on these assignments, giving most students 100% or more on both parts of the grade. (Video discussions count twice a normal discussion AND also count as a regular written homework assignment grade). As mentioned above, I give bonus points for students who take time to write their problems out clearly while giving the explanation of how to work the problem. I also give some bonus to students who do particularly good job with the overall video and/or if they include a visual verification of the solution given on an online graphing tool.
Link to scholarly reference(s)
DeMara, R., Salehi, S., & Muttineni, S. (2016). Exam preparation through directed video blogging and electronically-mediated realtime classroom interaction. Proceeding from 2016 ASEE: The American Society for Engineering Education Southeast Section Conference. Tuscaloosa, AL. March 13-15.
Moskal, P. D., Dziuban, C., & Hartman, J. (2010). A transforming environment for adults in higher education. In T. Kidd (Ed.), Online education and adult learning: New frontiers for teaching practices (pp. 54-68). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference. https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-60566-830-7.ch005