by Mike Lewis, Associate Professor, Chemistry
Thinking about topics for my first CTTL blog post this year, the obvious idea was to discuss my experiences with lecture capture over the past year. As most faculty probably know by now, SLU uses the lecture capture program Tegrity from McGraw Hill. This time last year, however, I think it is fair to say almost nobody had heard of this technology existing at SLU. I taught a large class last Fall semester, Organic Chemistry for non-Chemistry majors, and going into the course I had already decided on conducting the class very differently than I had previously. I was moving significant portions of the homework, quizzes, and overall learning online, and it was under this framework that a student approached me on the first day of class to ask me if I would consider using Tegrity. The student had been on the University committee charged with selecting a program for lecture capture during the previous academic year, and he was relatively familiar with the technology. After having him briefly tutor me on the program, I was happy to use it in the course.
The primary reason I thought this would be a good topic for a blog post is that in starting to use Tegrity the way I did, essentially without much thought and by the seat of my pants, I am definitely well positioned to comment on best practices for working Tegrity into your courses. And really, this is sugar-coating with catch words (best practices) how my experiences can be used to gain perspective on using Tegrity – the better description of what I can offer here is an overview of what does not work in using lecture capture in a large class. In my experience, large classes already have the issue of low attendance when compared to small classes. Still, in my Principles of Organic Chemistry I and II courses for non-majors, which have between 225-300 students, I generally have approximately 75-80% class attendance, even towards the end of the semester. With the adoption of Tegrity, I saw class attendance fall to about 50%. While I haven’t performed any pedagogical research to explore the reasons behind the drop in attendance, the obvious hypothesis is that students have convinced themselves that there is no need to attend the class if they can just watch it from the comfort of their room on their own time. The problem with this is that students don’t appear to watch classes they did not attend in person until too late, if at all. Based on questions by students, emailed to me close to an upcoming exam, or even the night before exams, it was clear that students did not watch the Tegrity classes. Thus, the adoption of Tegrity in large classes, in my experience, leads to a significant number of students not attending class, and not watching the lecture on Tegrity. It is important to point out that I have also used Tegrity in small classes (less than 40 students) and the attendance issue is not a problem.
I will teach a large class during the upcoming Spring semester, and I do plan on using Tegrity. My initial thoughts on how to deal with the issue of class attendance are to integrate clicker technology into the course, and possibly have pop quizzes. In both instances the clear approach is to attach points to attending class.
Beyond evolving the class design to involve Tegrity and maintain class attendance, employing Tegrity offers other pedagogical opportunities that I hope to explore. For instance, posting traditional lectures to Tegrity for students to view on their own, and then using the class time for interactive learning approaches, is the idea I am most interested in trying. This would certainly require some thought on how to get students to watch the Tegrity lectures, since my experience is that most of them will not do so on their own accord. Still, the idea of having a more interactive large class experience is enticing, and I hope to start working on such an approach this Spring semester.
Mike Lewis is an Associate Professor in the Chemistry department. He serves as a Faculty Fellow for the CTTL and chairs our Mentoring Committee. His areas of interest and expertise include teaching large classes, teaching and learning with technology, and mentoring new faculty.