Colleges and universities around the world are grappling with how to offer high-quality instruction for the upcoming Fall term. Institutions recognize there is a significant difference between remote and online learning. The abrupt but necessary pivot to remote learning offered during the Spring will not be good enough going forward when classes resume in the Fall.

In his recent webinar, How to Use Echo360 to Teach Remotely During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Walter Metz, professor of film studies at Southern Illinois University described how, after the pandemic forced his campus to close, he was able to rapidly create and teach his classes online with Echo360. The classes he rapidly created did not sacrifice quality of instruction. His online classes provided students the opportunity to participate and engage online just as they would if they had been in a physical classroom.

Most importantly, the courses he developed constitute an instructional design trifecta. In future terms, Metz can continue to deliver his classes online, or they can be rapidly cloned and presented within a blended or hybrid learning model. If face-to-face instruction is permitted, his courses can be presented in a traditional classroom. They can also be livestreamed to overflow classrooms, dorm rooms, or other locations to allow for social distancing. This flexibility of delivery provides a template that other institutions can follow as they search for ways to deliver value for their tuition dollar.

Activities Promote Online Engagement. Analytics Reveal Level of Student Participation

Using Echo360, Metz created four courses in just three days. In the webinar, Metz shared how students in his film studies class used Echo360 to view video content, access his PowerPoint lecture presentations and provide written answers to questions he posed in Echo360. Their participation and answers accounted for 50 percent of their course grade.

His students completed the same amount of work and participated in the same activities they would have in a traditional face-to-face class; only now, their class was conducted completely online. Echo360 analytics allowed him to keep track of his students’ participation and identify any students who were struggling to keep pace.

“I was able to use Echo360 analytics to determine if students were doing the work and engaged every day,” Metz says. “The system allowed me to weigh classroom activities that I consider to be most important. For me, I wanted to know whether students were answering the polling questions. The data from Echo360 showed me that excellent students responded to more than 90 percent of the questions asked. The system also identified students who were not engaging with the material and I was able to reach out to them regularly via email to offer encouragement just as I would have done in a traditional class on campus.”

Improving Equity and Greater Access to Education and Learning

In addition to the four online courses Metz conducted this past term, Metz also taught classes in a program called “Learning in Retirement.” The program offers “short burst” classes, taught in local church facilities, where students meet once a week over a five-week period. However, the pandemic forced churches to close and these classes were subsequently canceled.

“Once I got the four online courses under control, I started thinking about these students,” said Metz. “So, I reached out to these students by email and said wouldn’t it be fun to do what we were supposed to do in the church, online from the comfort of your home.”

Metz said that his students responded to him with concerns about using the technology. His students are mainly retirees living nearby to the SIU campus and range in age from 40 to 90.

“I replied to them with a few questions,” Metz said. “I asked, can you use email? Obviously, they knew how to do that because that is how we were communicating. I then asked, do you know how to watch a YouTube video? And they responded, ‘yes.’ I then told them I can deliver classes to you with just that level of technology.”

Metz says that Echo360 allowed him to hide almost all of the technology from the students. On the day of the class, Metz would send his students an email containing PDF’s of a PowerPoint lecture and required reading. He used Echo360 to deliver the associated lecture and students completed their work via email.

“I did a video lecture capture with Echo360,” said Metz. “There is a simple ‘public link’ function that allows me to create a ‘hot link’ which allows the student to click on the link, connect to the internet, and watch the video lecture.”

Metz says this one small step in the right direction to help bridge the digital divide and improve equity and greater access to education. He says there are implications beyond being able to teach classes to a group of retirees.

“Ensuring equitable access is a significant challenge for higher education,” says Metz. “But with Echo360 and a simple email, I was able to teach a class to people who might otherwise been shut out.”

“Clone Button” Makes It Easy to Create Hybrid Courses

Metz concluded the webinar by saying that while he prefers to teach his classes in-person, he realizes that online learning will play an increasingly important role in higher education. He considers his ability to deliver hybrid courses in the future, combining online with face-to-face instruction, one positive outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic. That is how he plans to teach his film studies class in the upcoming Fall term.

“I teach film studies every semester, but this is the first time I ever taught the course online. When I teach this course in the fall, I will make it a hybrid course because I have all the material ready to go. I can push the ‘clone’ button in Echo360, and it will transfer everything I did this semester into my fall Echo360 course shell for my cinema studies class.”

Metz plans to have students review the video film clips and respond to questions at home. In class, he will ask them to make presentations and participate in other group activities.

“Echo360 is intuitive and easy-to-use,” says Metz. “It has allowed me to better innovate new ways of teaching film studies than the software our university previously purchased.”

View the webinar archive, How to Use Echo360 to Teach Remotely During COVID-19.

Learn more: From campus video management, lecture capture, online learning, flipped classrooms and more, contact us to discover how Echo360 can help transform the teaching and learning experience at your institution.

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