Name of Tool/Strategy: Snagit/Supplemental Video Lectures
Course Name: ECH 161L
Brief Description of Course: Laboratory experiments in the operation and analysis of bioreactors, the determination of oxygen mass transfer coefficients in bioreactors, and the use of ion exchange chromatography for protein separation.
Description of Tool/Strategy Implementation
One of the learning objectives for this course is that students will design and conduct experiments. Student groups are required to submit an experimental plan prior to their assigned laboratory day with their experimental design and other relevant considerations. This experimental plan is then critiqued and students may adjust their plan and report any changes in their lab reports. In order to prepare students to do the necessary research to develop a complete experimental plan, brief lectures are given in the course discussion section on the key concepts relevant to the experiment as well as an overview of the equipment that they will be using in the lab. This course has been capped at 16 students in the past, and the student groups have completed the three required experiments in the same sequence. For the Spring 2016 quarter, the enrollment for this course grew to 24 students, and it was no longer feasible to run the labs in series. I therefore decided to run two experiments in parallel (oxygen mass transfer and ion exchange chromatography), where half of the groups started with one of the two experiments and finished with the other. All groups finished with the same third experiment (E.coli fermentation).
Although the decision to run the first two labs for this course in parallel made sense from a lab scheduling perspective, it complicated the discussion section schedule since half of the class was working on oxygen mass transfer and the other half ion exchange chromatography. Therefore, any information presented to the class relating to either of these two labs would not be immediately relevant to 50% of the class. Therefore, I made a series of two lecture videos each for the oxygen mass transfer and ion exchange chromatography lab. The students were encouraged to watch them prior to constructing their experimental plan. The students therefore were able to access the content normally presented in the discussion section at a more beneficial time. The discussion section time was then used to discuss topics that were relevant to the entire class such as error analysis and lab report format and expectations as well as for small group breakout sessions where students working on the same experiment could discuss their questions with each other and with the instructor.
The videos were made using the Snagit screen capture software to record a PowerPoint presentation. The software recorded my voice as I moved through the slides as well as the annotations that I made on the slides with my mouse clicks by using the annotation feature in PowerPoint. The videos were edited using Microsoft Movie Maker. The videos were saved in mp4 format and made available to the students via our course’s SmartSite online course shell.
Assessment and Analysis
The application of the online lecture videos was found to be successful by informal measures. The creation of the videos took only a few hours and the students appeared to appreciate the effort. One student remarked that all professors should makes these videos for their classes.
During one of our discussion sections, I took some time to demonstrate to the students how to use Microsoft Excel as tool to optimize parameters on an experimental dataset. The students asked that I turn this demonstration into a video that they could access later when they were carrying out their data analysis. Again using Snagit, I captured a video of myself working on Excel to derive parameters for a different dataset than the one that was shown in class. The students commented that they found this useful and many used this technique when carrying out their data analysis.
Comments on the end-of-quarter survey pertaining to these video lectures were the following:
“Lectures are fine, no problem at all with them, maybe incorporate more Excel tutorials and create more videos for lectures as those helped greatly.”
“Jason White made an extraordinary effort to organize online lecture/podcast material to allow for everyone to learn about their own experiments at their own rate. I honestly can’t think of any way to improve the lecture presentations, other than opening up the class to even more small-group discussions.”
“The lecture videos on smartsite is very good.”
“I thought lectures were well put together and posting an audio recording of the lectures was really helpful.”
In summary, I believe that the implementation of these lecture videos in my ECH 161L course was successful and I will be looking for ways to expand the use of these videos in future offerings of this course as well as in my other courses.