8000 Classrooms: Instructor Perspectives on the Active Learning Classroom

8000 Classrooms: Instructor Perspectives on the Active Learning Classroom

Throughout the world, more than 2.5 million students at 650 higher education institutions use Echo360. In total, that adds up to more than 8000 classrooms where Echo360 is used every day.

Students use the Echo360 active learning solutions to watch or review recorded lectures anywhere, anytime. They can take notes and create their own personalized study guides, ask questions and connect with their peers and instructors – all with the goal of becoming an active participant in their own learning and within the learning process.

We know how students use the system.  But, what is it like for the instructor? Does active learning technology like Echo360 require anything different of them? Is it easy to use? Do they have to prepare differently for class, or is it business as usual? What insights have they discovered about teaching and learning by using active learning technology?

In this series of articles, called 8000 Classrooms, we ask instructors who use Echo360 those questions and more. During a video shoot, we had the chance to chat about teaching with technology with Associate Teaching Professor Mike Buckholt at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). Mike has been using the Echo360 system for more than 5 years to teach introductory biology labs and environmental biology courses. In total, Mike teaches about 200 students a year using Echo360. Here are some of the highlights of our conversation.

Why did you decide to use technology like this in your classroom?

Buckholt: My teaching philosophy is to use anything I can that will help students learn. I’m not a technophile, but I like to play with technology when I can. Anytime there is new technology that we could use, I’ve tried to use it. That’s probably the first reason I started using it.

Has using the technology required you to change your teaching style?

Buckholt: No, it’s never required me to change anything. But, it’s allowed me to use lectures to flip the classroom. I have a stockpile of lectures that have been recorded and I incorporated them as a flipped classroom model.

Are students taking advantage of the system?

Buckholt: Any of the [students] I’ve ever talked to, there’s been an overwhelming positive response that it’s there. Students can go back and review [lectures]. They know that it’s there if they need it. They can always go back to it.

Have you seen a drop off in class participation or attendance?

Buckholt: I know from the beginning that was always a question. Other instructors have asked those of us who use it a lot if that’s true. I don’t think I’ve had any drop off at all. I don’t think there is any change in how many students show up for a lecture.

What would you say about the system to a professor who doesn’t embrace technology?

Buckholt: The first thing I would say is that it doesn’t take any effort on your part. We need to cater to, as much as possible, to any different learning style or preference students might have. I think the important thing is to give them some other way to get the material. If they are not the kind of student who learns well by sitting and staring at me in front of the classroom and hurriedly taking notes, this gives them another way. And, they can do it at their leisure, or when they feel most comfortable. It also gives [students] a way to go back and review, . . . review with you, in a way that they wouldn’t normally get to do.

Some say technology could bring an end to brick and mortar schools. What’s your take on that?

Buckholt: With technology, students can review stuff outside of the classroom, and what you do face-to-face would be things that are more interactive and reinforcing, and they can really ask questions. From most of the data I’ve seen, it really looks like people retain more and learn better if there’s some face-to-face component.  It seems to me that there’s going to be room for both.

Discover how Mike and his colleagues at WPI are using lecture capture and other active learning methods to accomodate diverse learning styles at their institution in this article from Higher Ed Tech Decisions.

 Want more insights on teaching with technology?