Although the final product is far from being perfect and can be expected to remain a work-in-progress for quite some time, students’ responses to this and other multimedia content are encouraging. In addition to the video syllabus, I regularly use video clips for other classroom functions, e.g. to explain assignments, procedures, or to give feedback on student papers. Survey data collected from end-of-term course evaluations during the past two years corroborate the positive impact of these video files in distance education. They appreciate the sense of immediacy that multimodal communication provides.
Students’ positive comments about teacher-produced videos fall under the following broad categories:
- Effective communication (fewer opportunities for misunderstanding, obvious body language); E.g.: “Sometimes conveying your thoughts through actual spoken words is much more effective than writing. It can be quicker and there is less room for confusion and misunderstanding.”
- Personal connection with instructor; E.g.: “I think the video files are very important, not only for learning but also to better get to know you and it creates a better, more personalized instruction.” “It helped put a face with the name.”
- Increased comfort level with course; E.g.: “I was completely lost until I watched the video. I printed out the paper syllabus as a check-off list for doing my assignments. The video syllabus also gave me a bit of a feel for you, and made me feel better about the course.” “[I]t makes me feel like there are teachers who care which helps out a lot when it comes to feeling comfortable asking questions in a class.”
- Higher motivation to learn; E.g.: “I really liked being able to see my instructor and hearing her instructions on various assignments. It made the things much easier at times.” “I loved having the online teacher right in front of me.”
- Personalized instruction (learning styles taken into consideration); E.g.: “The audio and visual files were a necessity for me this semester. I am both an auditory and visual learner but mostly visual. I feel that the audio and video files are necessary to accommodate the diverse learning styles of your students. Internet classes are very challenging and restricted to the self-motivated and independent learner, but the students ‘learning styles’ have to be taken in consideration to promote an equal opportunity for learning.”
- Enhanced active learning (interactivity, ability to go back and view material again, benefits of repetition); E.g.: “Anything that I didn't understand I could have gone back to play again, and she made captions next to every video which was also helpful.”