Video, Closed-Captioning, and Flipped Classroom Helps ESL Students Thrive

Video, Closed-Captioning, and Flipped Classroom Helps ESL Students Thrive

Teaching ESL students and keeping them engaged and motivated presents unique challenges. But Bill Fricker, an instructor at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) has elevated student engagement to new levels. In fact, his methods are so innovative that his students nominated him for a teaching excellence award that he subsequently won.

“I teach two sections of Organizational Behaviour. One class is made up entirely of ESL students. The other is about 65%. It’s a challenge for students who have difficulty understanding English.  But with the help of Echo360 I keep my students more actively engaged. And they also have the benefit of being able to replay a recording as many times as they need to understand the concepts being presented,” says Fricker.

Flipped Classroom Encourages Classroom Discussion, Closed Captioning Improves Understanding

Fricker uses a flipped classroom approach for his Organizational Behaviour course. He uploads PowerPoint presentations and a corresponding lecture commentary into Echo360 and  students access the content through their Moodle LMS. At various points during the lecture, he asks students to pause the recording to answer a question or to post comments about the presentation.  Prior to class, Fricker reviews student answers and comments and those questions and comments then serve as a basis for group discussion when they reconvene in class.

“Getting students to speak out in class is always a challenge,” says Fricker. “Students for whom English is not their native language may be reticent to speak up. But, using their own comments and answers that they’ve posted in Echo360 helps to break the ice and get them talking.”

Closed captioning in Echo360 is also an integral part of Fricker’s instruction.

“Captioning is a vital component of my course and for ESL students it really helps them learn,” adds Fricker. “It allows my students to not only hear my words, but also see them as I speak them. Imagine the burden on students who may be struggling to interpret my English and grasp the course terminology at the same time. Closed captioning solves all of that.”

Closed Captioning example

Increasing Student Engagement through Peer-to-Peer Learning

Once in class, Fricker uses Echo360 software to record a variety of student-centered activities.

“I bring along a simple camera to plug into the podium computer, some microphones, and I include a variety of activities in my class,” says Fricker. “Everything gets recorded – student questions, student presentations, classroom discussions, and student debates. After class, I upload it all into Echo360 and students are able to use the classroom sessions as a tool for review.”

To make sure student questions or comments are efficiently captured, Fricker uses a Catchbox microphone. Catchbox is a microphone encased in foam that was developed to encourage in-class engagement and conversation.

Students use Catchbox in classroom

“If a student has a question, I literally throw them the microphone for them to catch, “Fricker says. “The questions and answers all get recorded in Echo360. The students have a lot of fun with this. It’s very playful and it helps to liven up the class. Because everything is recorded, students have yet another tool when reviewing for exams.”

The interactivity in class doesn’t end there. Each lesson includes themes and topics for students to debate. He requires each of his students to teach one theme to the rest of the class. They are also required to take one side of a specific argument and defend their position in front of the class.

“Student presentations and debates are also done on-camera,” adds Fricker. “This is an important activity for my students. It gives them a tool for self-evaluation. Most importantly, it helps them gain confidence. Speaking in public was probably not something they thought they could do. But now, they can go back and review the Echo360 recording and say to themselves, ‘I really am learning,’” Fricker concludes.

Example of Point Counterpoint

Student Survey: Video and Flipped Classroom Make Learning More Effective

When surveyed, students overwhelmingly support Fricker’s methods. 88% of the Winter 2016/17 student cohort said the ability to view lesson and classroom videos with closed captioning was valuable or extremely valuable. The same percentage reported that using Echo360 to flip the classroom helped them to understand the subject more effectively than traditional classroom instruction would have done.

Fricker’s students took their satisfaction to the next level by nominating him for an instructional excellence award. He was one of eleven NAIT instructors recognized in 2015 for exceptional teaching skills and commitment to his students. Instructors were nominated by students and winners were selected by a committee that included NAIT instructional staff, students, and Academic Council members.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by my students and peers,” Fricker says. “Students definitely value the way in which we use Echo360. They definitely feel that it is instrumental to their success.”

Find out how Echo360 can improve learning outcomes at your institution.

Contact Us