Associate Professor Colin Montpetit, at the University of Ottawa in Canada, has been using a hybrid teaching model in his Biology classes for many years. His students are directed online to study preparatory materials and then come to class ready to have case study discussions and learn how to apply the material.
Over the course of the summer Montpetit decided that he would use 3 different modes of video to connect with his students, and none of them is a lecture.
“Like many others, I spent the summer thinking about how to manage the change to fully online teaching and the challenges I might encounter. Challenges with respect to student accommodations, with respect to time zones and with respect to the student workload – or my own workload for that matter,” says A/P Montpetit, “and I knew early on that 90-minute online lectures would not be appealing or sustainable.”
“Every Monday morning I’ll create a five minute video, I’ll post it, and students will see it when they engage with the module. I’m getting emails now from students saying, ‘we really appreciate this, you’re setting us up for the module. We know what’s coming up and that’s great,” says Montpetit.
Another way that Montpetit uses video to connect with his students is by a creating a quick video of his email message instead of typing it. “You know, it could be 30 seconds to one minute, and I send it to the student through the Echo360 system. And what’s really cool about this is that the students see your facial expressions … they get to see that you’re still happy and still excited about talking to them. Sometimes the students will video their emails as well and send it to you.”
Montpetit has thousands of hours of content that he can pick and choose from in his repository of past recordings. While he doesn’t use these videos to replace his teaching, he may send a short video to accompany his 5-minute summary video on a week where he wants to provide extra explanation.
He is very open about his growth over the 15 years he has been teaching. “I used to feel that I had to lecture when I was in the classroom with students, and over the years using a blended model, I see opportunities to get away from lecturing in the classroom and introducing the students to more group work,” said Montpetit.
By not lecturing during his synchronous sessions he gives students the opportunity to lead the discussion. “I make the space for not worrying that if I don’t lecture, they’re not going to get it and so I’m ready to give up that lecturing space for all these other discussions, to the point where if the students say, can we just take a mental health break today and just talk about anything else?’ I’m open for that. I think what students like is the fact that I have a presence and they see that I’m there for them and they hear that from my voice online, on video or live, and they really, really appreciate that”.