The desire to improve accessibility and increase the use of video and classroom capture played a part in a recent student election at the McMaster University. During his run for president of McMaster University’s Student Union, one of the planks of newly elected President Giancarlo Da-Ré’s campaign platform was to work with the University’s MacPherson Institute to increase faculty usage of Echo360.

McMaster students themselves have voiced support for expanding the use of video on campus.

“I have had many student groups and individual students message me about advocacy strategies related to Echo360,” says Da-Ré. “Students are excited to join the conversation and find out how they can be involved in large-scale advocacy efforts at McMaster and I’ve begun planning with them as to how we will be able to work together on this project over the coming year.”

Video Recordings with On-the-Go Access Help Students Meet Competing Demands

Da-Ré is a fifth year Chemical-Biology student and has taken many courses in which Echo360 was used. He says the video platform has helped him balance the competing priorities that come up in his life as a student and as student union president.

“Echo360 has allowed me to dedicate time to [other] priorities in my life without sacrificing academics,” he says. “If I have to miss class because of a conflict, I have been able to catch up on the lectures through Echo360. Echo360 also improves my classroom experience because I can listen to my instructor without scrambling to write down everything that I hear. I can make those notes later when I replay the recording.”

Da-Ré uses Echo360 to review course content and says it is the “first step” he takes when preparing for exams. He says the ability to play, pause, and control the speed of video playback are features he has come to rely upon.

“The playback option and speed-of-play manipulation are features I use the most,” he says. “These options allow me to pause, search for something I don’t understand and play it again. The speed of play lets me decrease the speed of videos when I am having difficulty understanding content and increase the speed when I have a lot of content to get through.”

The ability to access recorded content from a desktop, laptop, or other mobile device helps improve accessibility to recorded course content. Such flexibility helps Da-Ré manage the many demands on this time.

“I primarily use Echo360 off campus at home,” he says. “But, I also use the Echo360 mobile app and download lectures to watch when I am on the GO bus traveling around the Greater Toronto area.”

Da-Ré says that the availability of lecture recordings in Echo360 helps him feel better prepared and if given the option, he would always select classes that offered recorded lectures.

“It is not always clear which courses offer Echo360,” he says, “If it were clearer across the board, I would definitely select a course that uses Echo360 over one that didn’t. When video recordings are not available, I feel that I cannot prepare for a midterm or exam after missing a class as well as I could if a recording were available. This is especially true if the class is one where I don’t know the other students and feel uncomfortable asking others for notes that are not available in the posted lecture slides.”

Pilot Projects Help Increase Instructor Comfort Level with Echo360

Da-Ré’s experience working on the Echo360 Sandpit project has put him in direct contact with faculty members who are evaluating whether they want to use Echo360 in their classroom. The Echo360 Sandpit puts students in the role of instructors, and instructors in the role of students for the purpose of helping instructors better understand what it is like to be a student in an Echo360 class.

“Being part of the Echo360 Sandpit team has allowed me to have numerous conversations with instructors who are not using Echo360 in their courses. A common reason for not wanting to use technology like Echo360 is a fear that students will not attend class if lectures are recorded. They also fear that the platform is difficult to learn and use or may not have the features they need.”

Da-Ré’s approach is to listen to these concerns and then offer resources and contacts across campus with other faculty members who are using Echo360 or through the staff at the MacPherson Institute. He also recommends that instructors try a short “pilot” project with Echo360.

“Instructors work very hard to develop and present their classes in the best way they know how, and change can be scary,” he says. “But the staff at the MacPherson Institute has been phenomenal with their support. I explain the benefits of Echo360 from a student perspective and one good option is to propose they pilot Echo360 in their course over a 2 to 4-week period. This helps instructors determine for themselves if it is something they want to continue.”

Da-Ré believes using Echo360 can improve teaching and learning experience for instructors and students alike.

“There are a number of benefits that Echo360 carries for teaching staff, which can sometimes be overshadowed by the benefits to students. Echo360 is a platform that can advance teaching and learning, and it is important to recognize the needs of everyone going forward. It’s integrated into our LMS, Avenue to Learn, it is free to use, and it helps students to learn in the way that is best for them.”

In a previous blog post, Christa Morrison, digital pedagogy specialist at McMaster University, discusses how Echo360 was among the tools used to help achieve institution-wide accessibility goals.

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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