Video Technology Helps Schreiner University Reimagine Classroom Instruction
Echo360 Video Platform Plays Essential Role as Students Return to Campus for Focused 8-Week Terms
Schreiner University is a private Presbyterian university with an enrollment of about 1,300 students located in Kerrville, Texas. The university describes itself as a “place of opportunity” offering a personalized, integrated, and holistic educational experience. Small classes, face-to-face instruction, and a vibrant community of learning are at the heart of the student experience.
In March 2020, the worldwide COVID pandemic forced Schreiner to cancel classes and close their campus. Teaching and learning moved completely online. Classes were delivered using the school’s learning management system (Canvas) and Microsoft Teams for synchronous teaching. While the university was able to successfully finish the spring term online, university leaders, faculty, and students alike wanted to return to campus for the fall term.
“Our experience in the spring demonstrated how crucial the teaching and classroom experience really is. But we had to plan for any eventuality. Echo360 gave us a way to continue teaching and stay connected with our students in any scenario where we couldn’t be face-to-face. It was an essential component in our plan to have students return to campus. But we also discovered that Echo360 was important for classroom instruction too. The lecture recordings helped students review and adjust to the shorter, 8-week focused term format we needed to adopt.”
—Dr. Travis Frampton, Provost and VP, Academic Affairs, Schreiner University
Testing, Focused Terms, and Video Technology Allow In-Person Classes to Resume
Chief among the concerns about resuming face-to-face instruction was how to keep students and faculty healthy. But there were other challenges. If the pandemic forced another campus closure, how could instructors remain connected with students? How could they keep students engaged and provide a stimulating teaching and learning experience, regardless of how classes are delivered – in-person on campus, online, or through a blended/hybrid model?
University leaders developed a comprehensive plan to meet these challenges that included:
- Conducting COVID-19 Screening and Random Testing – Students and faculty were tested upon arrival back on campus. Temperature checks and medical screening occurred daily, and people were issued color-coded wrist bands to indicate they had passed screening. If someone didn’t pass daily screening, they were referred to medical personnel for additional screening, testing, and potential quarantining. Random COVID testing was administered throughout the term. In all, these measures kept the total number of infections in the single digits throughout the term.
- Splitting the Semester into Two, 8-week, “Focused” Terms – The university divided their traditional semester into two 8-week terms, with half of the classes scheduled for the first term, dubbed “Fall 1” and the remaining course for the second term, “Fall 2.” This format allowed students to focus on fewer courses for a defined, short period of time. The format also would make it easier for the university to adjust teaching if they were required to close campus and send students home.
- Converting All Available Spaces into Classrooms – To meet state-mandated social distancing requirements, ballrooms, music rooms, parts of the student center, and religious spaces were converted into classrooms. This allowed the university to continue to keep classes small, averaging 17-18 students, with no class larger than 40 students, while maintaining proper social distance.
- Recording All Class Lectures Using Echo360 – Classes were redesigned to fit the 8-week format and every class was automatically recorded using Echo360 Universal Capture. Lectures were synchronously streamed to students who could not attend in person. Lecture recordings were available for students during review and this helped them meet the demands of the shorter, more focused term of instruction.
Recorded Lectures Help Students Keep Pace with 8-Week Focused Term Format
“Echo360 makes it very easy to automatically record every class,” says Dr. Kyle Busing, Director, Office of Academic Innovation and Development. “Our instructors don’t have to do anything but enter the classroom and begin teaching. It’s all automatic. We also live stream each class. This allows students to view and participate in class synchronously or asynchronously if they cannot attend class in person.”
Despite the challenges they faced, Frampton says the university was able to realize important measures of success for the Fall semester.
“We were all together for the two 8-week terms and there was no campus transmission of COVID-19,” says Frampton. “Despite the 8-week term format, DF/W rates and academic probation / suspension rates declined. The average student GPA also remained constant from prior semesters. Students were able to review the lectures recorded in Echo360. It was a tool that supported learning through the course and helped improve learning outcomes,” Frampton adds.
Online Components of In-Person Learning Will Continue to Grow at Schreiner
Moving forward, both Busing and Frampton envision how Echo360 will allow Schreiner to continue to expand online learning opportunities.
“There is no ‘un-ringing the bell’ for online education,” says Busing. “I don’t see us returning to the type of traditional classroom that we had on campus as recently as a year ago. Every face-to-face class already had an online component within our learning management system. But it’s not enough to be able to just present information. We need to be able to engage with our students in a meaningful way. Echo360 provides those tools for us and the online components of our face-to-face courses will continue to grow.”
In the near term, one group of students that stands to benefit from expanded online learning and Echo360 videos are Schreiner’s student athletes. Athletic programs for Division III schools resume in the spring 2021 term and nearly 70 percent of Schreiner students participate.
“In the past, when our student-athletes traveled or had to miss class because of an event, they were responsible for getting class notes or making up the class,” says Frampton. “We encouraged them to come to Schreiner to participate in athletics, but they were on their own when it came to missing classes. Now even when they are traveling to an event, with Echo360 they can participate in classes synchronously or watch the video recordings when their schedule permits. This is a big improvement for students who participate in these programs”
Adopting Quality Matters Rubrics to Ensure Excellence in Course Design
Busing says the university will continue to enhance its ability to deliver teaching and learning online. He says an important measure of success is for the university to meet the Quality Matters Course Design Rubric Standards used to evaluate the design of online, blended and hybrid courses. These standards are based on education research examining the many factors that improve student learning and retention rates, as well as activities that increase learning and engagement.
“Having Echo360 has motivated us to expand faculty professional development,” Busing says. “We’ll begin by helping our instructors design and teach online courses more effectively using Quality Matters rubrics. Our goal is to have our courses receive Quality Matters certifications for quality course design. Echo360 gives us the institutional tools that will help us achieve that goal and, in the end, our students will reap the benefits.”
Learn more: From campus video management, lecture capture, online and hybrid learning and more, contact us to discover how Echo360 can help transform the teaching and learning experience at your institution.