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goal: to use the quiz not for recall but to “prompt synthesis.” Justice pointed out that the quizzes aren’t graded. However, the responses do help the instructors and designers gauge where students are in the class. The video quizzes also provide basic statistics, and that information can be used by the professor in flipped classes, for instance, to know what concepts need better explanation in class the next day. Justice said that one faculty member in an online course would send an e-mail the next day, “recommending reading, recommending an additional exercise. That way we were able to close the loop and use
the data to our best advantage.”
4) Use of Experts
While the faculty member is, of course, the expert in any class, asserted Sosulski, “having diverse perspectives is really important — to offer different ways of thinking about problems.” The Stern team has brought in outside experts for video “mini-lessons” to impart domain knowledge. As she explained, “We use them to demonstrate problem- solving and also to share their pitfalls [and tricks of the trade], or what we call their ‘heuristic strategies.’”
The practice started, said Justice, when the group tackled the remake of a course called “Business Methods,” which had been a two-day online session led by experts. “We decided to have these experts pop on screen for one to
two minutes in a middle of a series of exercises and interactive prompts that we had for the design of the entire course.” They would show up to deliver an expert tip pulled from their area of specialization.
“That allowed these people to share their nuggets of wisdom,” she noted. “Where are your pain points? Where do you trip and fall? What mistakes have you made? What have you learned? If I had to walk out of this room right now and I had to remember one thing, what should it be?”
The experts were “really excited to share these tips,” Justice said, because it used their “standing and expertise.”
5) In-Video Prompts
This is an area that Sosulski called a “work in progress.” The idea is to motivate students to reach for the next level of their learning through challenges. Open-ended prompts are attached to the video clips to “encourage engagement from the viewers,” said Justice.
“Students are encouraged to take the ideas they’ve learned in the lecture so far and try to synthesize that and learn new information. We want them to fill in the blanks. We want to present them with incomplete problem sets and have them find the solutions — or maybe we want to end in a cliff hanger.”
As an example, one video for a “Business and Society” course opened with a brief introduction from the professor,
in which she previewed the subject of the video: Columbia’s decades-long civil war and the four years of negotiations that finally ended it. At the end of the introduction, the viewer is told, “you will be asked to describe how government and business combined to end the stalemate,” explained Justice. By getting a clue up front about what they’re expected to pull from the video, students are given a reason to pay attention.
Frequently, achieving that structure calls for reorganizing the script, which is a multi-session, joint effort between the Learning Science staff and the faculty member. It starts with a listening session where the team hears the instructor’s ideas, including what they love about media, whether it’s a TV show or movie. Then the endeavor gets “more discrete,” said Justice. “We start showing different examples of other videos that we feel employ best practices. And usually it takes three or four meetings to get to a place where we’re happy with the script or we’re at a place where we can start producing the content.”
As a result of that deep work, the faculty member comes to understand the process of creating great videos “isn’t just an assembly line, where you go into a studio and you shoot with no support. They see the energy and passion that we put into it.” Just like Breaking Bad, except all your favorite characters survive.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for Cam- pus Technology.
CAMPUS TECHNOLOGY | January/February 2018

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