Joel Kilty and Alex McAllister
Mathematics professors Joel Kilty and Alex McAllister have spent the better part of two years planning and refining their Mathematics Modeling and Applied Calculus (MAT 145) course. They dedicated two summers working with students to develop their own textbook for this course; and with the help of a technology mini-grant obtained from the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), Kilty and McAllister set out to incorporate a variety of new teaching tools to supplement the design of the new course.
To provide students with the best possible learning opportunities, they knew they wanted to include supplemental video instruction with the use of screen casting tools to serve in a variety of capacities including flipped instruction, Just-In-Time teaching (JiTT), and post-instruction review.
They began creating mini-lectures with software such as Doceri, Screencast-O-Matic, and Playback Pro with the intent to make the material as interactive and class-like as possible, matching the content with the textbook, and providing students the necessary tools needed to navigate the course. Designing pre-class examples of mathematical concepts helps students prepare for class and in turn makes classroom conversations and learning experiences richer and deeper. The question they always ask when creating this content is, “is it beneficial to them?” McAllister stated that an important piece of creating these supplemental videos is trying to “broaden the opportunities for a different set of learners, being respectful and intentional about trying to reach out to them.” Meeting learners where they are by providing them multiple modes of learning helps narrow the gap and creates a sense of balance to the course material.
Prior to a class, quiz, or exam, students in MAT 145 now have additional material from which to study, or brush up on a specific process they may have missed. Many students learn well this way. Though both Kilty and McAllister will admit that this style of learning is not for every student, they are quick to say that those students who were already seeking out alternative methods of instruction are the first to view the videos and find them beneficial. Kilty states that several students have come to him after class indicating how thankful they are for these videos and how much they helped the learning process.
Kilty and McAllister both mentioned their deep desire to meet students where they are – to give them another opportunity to reach students through methods that ultimately have a fairly low impact on them as instructors, yet dramatically impacts students.
The goal is to put the responsibility for learning into the hands of the students. Both Kilty and McAllister are intentional about providing interactive material that pushes students to learn how they learn best. Anecdotal evidence suggests that students who have utilized the supplemental videos in this class have been more prepared for other Math courses because they have really grasped the diverse set of ideas combined into this MAT 145 course.
Their advice for other faculty interested in pursuing the creation of this type of instructional material is to “just do it.” Both Kilty and McAllister talked about the importance of overcoming the initial apprehension of trying something new by mapping out where you want to create these materials in the course and being intentional about the content. Getting started is often the hardest part, but making that decision to move forward with the project is sometimes all you need; you can always modify the content as needed along the way. They also talked about the benefit of gaining accountability by working with or being mentored by another faculty member who has previously created this type of content in their courses.
Ultimately, the goal is to impact students in different ways. Adding interactive video instruction to a course is a great supplemental tool that can benefit many students. Students who learn well through specific conceptual explanation contained in the videos are most likely already seeking out this type of instruction; and the familiarity of their instructor’s voice in these videos can help solidify additional topics learned in the classroom.
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