Lessons Learned During Emergency Remote Learning Enhance Classroom Instruction when Students Return to Campus
Echo360 Live-Streaming and Student Response Tools Help University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine Keep Students Engaged Even When They are Dispersed and Socially Distanced
Students had already left for Spring break when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine to shut down its campus. College administrators, staff, and faculty had one week to plan how they would transition to remote learning and finish the term. For synchronous learning in classes that required live, real-time discussion, the College turned to Zoom. These classes were recorded using Zoom and the recordings were uploaded into the Echo360 library. To deliver lectures asynchronously to students online, they used Echo360.
Every lecture was recorded using Echo360 Universal Capture. The recordings were made available to students during their regularly scheduled class time each week, allowing students to maintain their normal schedule while learning remotely.
“To ensure that everyone was up to speed, I ran several intensive courses on how to best use Echo360,” says Terrence Stuber, audio-visual services coordinator and Echo360 administrator. “The majority of our instructors recorded lectures from their office on-campus or from their home. Our faculty members quickly mastered the technology and became Echo360 experts overnight. They not only recorded their lectures, but they also embraced Echo360’s engagement tools and that made the online experience more interactive and helped our students immediately apply what they were learning.”
Asking Questions in Different Ways to Promote Deeper Learning
When instructors taught classes in-person, they used a classroom-based clicker system to poll students and assess student understanding of the material being presented. However, the clicker system was limited to multiple choice questions and could not be used outside of the classroom.
Using Echo360’s student response tools, instructors were able to “embed” different types of questions within their recorded lectures. In addition to multiple choice questions, instructors could now require students to respond with short answers, identify objects on images, respond to numerical questions, or create an ordered list where students organize a list of responses into a specific order.
The result was an exponential increase in student engagement and in the number of student responses. For example, across the entire veterinary medicine program in September 2020 alone, there were more than 37,000 student response to questions embedded within the online lectures recorded using Echo360. During that same month, students participated in nearly 2,000 Q&A discussions online.
“Our instructors love having the ability to choose from a range of question types depending on what they are trying to assess,” says Stuber. “Although they are using the same kinds of questions they would have used in the classroom, they now have options beyond multiple choice, and they are able to effectively engage students and get them to actively participate while learning online. This helps to promote a deeper understanding because students have to apply what they are learning in different ways.”
Live-Streaming Lectures Satisfies Social Distancing and Occupancy Guidelines
In the summer of 2020, the College made the decision that students would return to campus. Classes would be presented live, but the College had to follow the Illinois state and university guidelines that required social distancing and limited the number of students who could be physically present in a classroom or lecture hall.
“We had a team of people who went through all of our lecture halls and classrooms and determined how many students could safely fit into each space,” says Stuber. “It was definitely a hybrid learning model because some students were physically present while others watched the lecture online, remotely. But because we could live-stream lectures with Echo360, it helped us to satisfy distancing and other guidelines and safely deliver a live, in-person curriculum.”
Instructors presented lectures from a lecture hall or classroom with a limited number of students present. The remaining students were spread out in multiple classrooms and viewed the livestream of the lecture using Echo360. Students could even watch and participate from off-campus locations.
Instructors rotated through five different classrooms throughout the week. Student audio-visual assistants were available to help instructors and their classmates, depending on whether their room was the designated “live room” or a remote viewing room for the day.
Engaging Students When On-Campus Learning is Still Remote Learning
Once again, instructors used Echo360 student engagement features to reach and engage with students. Instead of learning from home as they had in the Spring, students were now dispersed across multiple classrooms. The lessons instructors learned while delivering emergency remote learning would help them keep their students actively engaged even though they were not physically in the same space. .
“Because we were back on campus, the natural tendency was to want to go back to using the classroom clicker system,” says Stuber. “But the clicker system wouldn’t work effectively with students spread out over four or five classroom spaces, not to mention if they were participating from a location off-campus. I’m really proud to say that our instructors embraced a new way of teaching. With Echo360, we were able to reliably stream lecture presentations to multiple locations throughout our college, embed questions to encourage active engagement and learning, give our instructors instant feedback as to whether or not students grasp the material, and reliably record the entire presentation so that students can access it and review it later.”
Planning for Future Contingencies
Stuber says that returning to campus was important for students, staff, and faculty. Teaching and learning veterinary medicine and its associated disciplines is a hands-on, kinesthetic experience. But the College’s experience teaching remotely in the Spring of 2020 gave them the confidence that they could deliver a quality online learning experience using Echo360. The technology gives them the flexibility to plan for and handle emergencies that may arise in the future.
“Throughout the period of remote learning and when our students returned to campus, our faculty members got to see firsthand what they could do with Echo360,” says Stuber. ” They saw how the platform’s analytics and metrics help them understand exactly how well their students are mastering the content. They began to see how they could use the technology in other creative ways, such as expanding usage by recording elective courses or using it for staff training and development. Above all, our faculty members learned just how powerful Echo360 is.”
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