Presentation of content (learning activities and resources) - Fleksibel utdanning Norge

All teaching has an element of content presentation. As well as conventional lectures, this could be learning material in the form of videos, audio files and websites. The subject content can also be textbooks and articles or videos and podcasts that are available online. Subject content will also be resources prepared by the tutor alone or in collaboration with the students. All subject content should be available in a learning platform, preferably in a closed area.

Structure of online content

Regardless of how subject content is presented, structure is essential. The more digital and asynchronous the content is, the more important it is that the learning environment is designed to enable the students to find what they need when they need it. This is often called a learning path and guides the students through the course/topic. There may well be opportunities for digressions, but the main path to the goal must be clear.

We have written in more detail about this in Part 1, but five good tips are:

  1. Ensure the name and structure of the subject matter is predictable.
  2. Clearly mark which subject content is essential and which is supplementary material.
  3. If there are several alternatives to an activity or course content, it should be clearly stated whether they are equivalent or have different functions.
  4. Explain how the course content is related to other learning activities.
  5. Provide students with a recommended order for subject content and learning activities.

Video

There are many advantages to using videos. They can visualise actions and concepts that are difficult to explain well in words. They can be seen anywhere and at any time and can therefore be suitable for students who want to take advantage of available time to study in their daily lives, for example when travelling. Another advantage is that students can fast forward and rewind, increase or decrease the speed and navigate as need be. Which tools are used to produce the video and where it is shared/published are decisive for how accessible such features are. The same applies to subtitling and audio description. Both the organisation of the course/programme and the target group’s assumptions determine whether and how videos can be used expediently in the learning processes.

Advice and tips for using video in asynchronous teaching:

  • Give the students access to videos to prepare before classes.
  • Include instructional videos showing how to do an assignment.
  • Videos can be made interactive by entering reflection questions or a short quiz. Some people use tools like H5P or Camtasia to add exercises to the video. Others embed videos into a tool, for example in the learning platform.
  • Lectures can be filmed specifically for video or filmed in a classroom/webinar. The purpose here is to make it available to those who cannot be present, and that those who were present can rewatch the lecture.
  • Videos that are not made specifically for teaching can be part of the subject content if they serve to illustrate, exemplify or convey the content of the course/programme.

For problem-based learning: A complex problem can be easier to describe using a video before the students get together to discuss it.

Video production

There are many good resources available to tutors who want to make their own videos. Large institutions often have both studios and support centres, but smartphones or screen recorders are also good devices for recording videos. There are many open online courses, learning videos and pages containing tips on how to make a video. You can find good guidance here: fleksibelutdanning.no/tillegg.

Once a video has been made, it is usually published online and the link to the video is shared with the students. Some institutions have agreements with providers of sharing services, while others use free sharing services such as Vimeo and YouTube.

The purpose of the video determines how it should be designed. An introduction, presentation or instruction should be specific, well thought-through and correct. Writing a script in advance is a good idea. Think structure, dramaturgy. Start by activating preliminary understanding, introducing new concepts and/or putting the video in context. Feel free to present specific examples linked to the theoretical subject matter. Manuscripts may also be labour-saving because good planning makes it possible to film everything in one shot and avoid editing. Recordings of a lecture or a calculation on an interactive whiteboard in the classroom can be posted unedited. The participants have already been involved in the process and can fast forward to the points they wish to repeat.

In the book Multimedia Learning, Richard Mayer explains the principles of learning using words and images. (30) In summary, we can say that words and images should support the facts about what is to be learned, and anything that does not contribute directly to this is noise that should be omitted. Mayer also says that image/film and narration activate both the eyes and ears, and both the part of the brain that interprets words and the part that interprets images. Together, this can enhance learning. Adding a third element, such as text, may run a risk of cognitive overload that impairs learning.

How long should a video be? The golden rule has been about 6 minutes (31) or 5–10 minutes, (32) but there are also examples of students enjoying and benefiting from longer lecture videos. Again, it is not only the video itself that determines this, but the characteristics, structure, context and organisation of the teaching of the whole subject. It is always a good idea to think about whether video lectures can be broken down into shorter sessions, or whether you can use asharing service that allows you to divide individual videos into chapters, as you can do in Panopto, for example.

Sound quality is essential in videos. When recording in noisy environments, you should either use a good microphone or find a quiet room – or both. All videos must as a rule have subtitles. If subtitling is not possible, a file can be attached with, for example, the script.

Audio files

There are many reasons to use audio files for content presentation, for example for reading aloud a textbook or manuscript, i.e. a kind of audiobook, for participants who struggle with reading. Audio files can also make the material more accessible to those struggling with language and want to read text and listen to audio recordings at the same time. Presenting subject content in the form of audio recordings will make it possible to combine theoretical learning with physical activity, which can help make learning more accessible.

Podcasting is a popular audio file genre, which, strictly speaking, refers to format for making content available, but is generally associated with audio recordings in an oral style, and often conversational form. Structured academic discussions can be a good example for students who need to practise discussing their subject.

Podcast production

We recommend preparing a script when planning a podcast episode, but this entails both advantages and disadvantages. The advantages of a script are that it helps maintain a good structure, that you include all the points, that it can save post-editing work and that it can be posted instead of a transcript. The disadvantages are that it can spoil spontaneity and the colloquial nature of a podcast. One tip may be to write a script, but to put it aside during the actual recording. Or you can jot down some keywords.

Student participation can be an important success factor. As podcasts are often released as a series of episodes, successive feedback can be obtained. Assistant professors Cecilie TynesRiksem and Gro Audveig Hagen Bjørnøy do an open chemistry podcast called Rosa begerglass (‘Pink beaker’). They found that the students wanted thorough explanations of difficult material, and that the entertainment value was not that important. (33) The podcast format is suitable for conveying complicated subject matter, because it allows subject matter to be looked at in depth, whether it is well prepared or spontaneous. Podcasts in the form of a discussion are often more interesting to listen to than a monologue.

When it comes to length, there are again many factors that come into play, but 20 to 30 minutes can be a good rule of thumb. Editing should be manageable.

Technical and practical tips are widely available, including at Poddskolen, a podcast-based and complete podcast course for tutors, provided by Lingu and EPALE Norge.

VR, AR, simulations and games

The reason we combine the more advanced content and activity types into one subchapter is that they represent a newer and, so far, less widespread type of learning resource. However, there are many good reasons to adopt them in many subject areas and at most levels. Examples of areas of use include: 

  • Practise assessing situations (e.g. entering a patient room in hospital)
  • Practise hazardous situations (e.g. walking onto train tracks)
  • Enhanced learning through sensory impressions, emotional experiences (e.g. simulating a sequence of events where the student’s choices can mean life or death)
  • Access spheres that are otherwise unavailable (e.g. the body’s internal organs or the moon’s surface)
  • Perform experiments that would otherwise be difficult to carry out (e.g. climate models)
  • Make learning activities more site-independent and thus more flexible (e.g. excursions)
  • New perspectives by enacting roles and avatars (e.g. playing a prison guard and prisoner in a concentration camp)

Virtual reality (VR)

Virtual reality is, in its simple form, image and video material in 3D that users experience with the help of a special computer screen integrated into goggles. When users move their heads, they see other angles and parts of the scenario. VR can be expanded with multiple motion sensors that enable participants to interact with the virtual environment.

Augmented reality (AR)

This technology adds digital elements ‘to the real world’ and is thus more synchronous in its essence. A popular example from outside the world of teaching is Pokémon Go, where digital characters emerge in the user’s immediate surroundings. An example from education may be exploring anatomy or obtaining digital instructions for how to use machines.

Simulations and digital labs

Digital simulations can be advanced software with many variables and many opportunities for students and tutors to interact with the content. They can contain 2D and 3D graphics, advanced physical consoles (for example a flight simulator) or entire practice labs, also with specific equipment (for example patient manikins with digitally controlled pulse and respiration). A simulation can also be non-digital, like a role-playing game.

However, much of this software and the equipment needed to use it are still expensive, and thus not widely used in flexible teaching where students can study when and where they want, but more and more simulations are being developed for such use. Virtual technology can also in some cases replace physical laboratories and practice rooms and be used by everyone who has access to the tool, regardless of where they are.

Games and game-based activities

Games in teaching are a learning activity that often requires time and resources to develop and to use. It is therefore important to clearly define what the student is supposed to learn through the game, before development gets under way.

There are several definitions of games, but a common denominator is that they involve some kind of task or assignment to be solved or won, as well as some rules – a framework. A game can in itself promote learning by

  • the players having to practise skills and solve tasks,
  • activating emotions that can enhance learning, or
  • enabling players to see situations from different perspectives by playing different roles in the game universe.

When games are used as a group activity, participants can both cooperate and compete against each other. The game can provide a common frame of reference and understanding of the task. Role-playing is one example. Games that involve complex tasks can take time and are appropriate for asynchronous teaching. Games can also be used as a motivator and/or social activity without being directly linked to learning objectives.

Studies show that games and simulations can be good ways to strengthen generic skills, but that it depends on the tutor being active, for example by setting achievable learning objectives and interacting with the students to support and motivate knowledge building. (34)

Fotnoter

  1. 30

    Mayer, R.E. (2021) Multimedia Learning, Third Edition, Cambridge University Press

  2. 31

    Guo, P. J., KIM , J. & Rubin, R. (2014, March). How video production affects student engagement: An empirical study of MOOC videos. In Proceedings of the first ACM conference on Learning@ scale conference (41–50).

  3. 32

    Engeness, I., Nohr, M., Singh, A. B. & Mørch, A. (2020). Use of videos in the Information and Communication Technology Massive Open Online Course: Insights for learning and development of transformative digital agency with pre-and in-service teachers in Norway. Policy Futures in Education18(4), (497–516).

  4. 33

    Riksem, C. & Bjørnøy, G. A. H. (2021). Hvordan utforme faglige podcaster slik at de skaper engasjement rundt faget?. Læring om læring6(1).

  5. 34

    Lillejord, S., Børt, K., Nesje, K. & Ruud, E. (2017). Campusutforming for undervisning, forskning, samarbeid og læring – en systematisk kunnskapsoversikt.

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