Key points for practice that engineering educators could take from this study are:
- Pre-session screencasts of up to ~15 mins have potential to enhance student engagement in conventional lectures and are well suited to a flipped teaching model.
- A pre-session screencast can also be an effective revision resource for students, so it is a better use of staff time to prepare pre-session screencasts rather than only post-session screencasts intended as a lecture summary.
- Keep the screencasts to 15 minutes and use it as a scaffolding tool; it is better to include links to other resources which students can hunt down (active learning!) rather than it becoming a full ‘passive’ lecture.
- Remind students when a pre-session screencast is published – email is generally better than relying on the VLE update notifications for this.
- Derivations and example problems are activities common in engineering teaching that could be flipped into pre-session screencasts to leave the contact time to address the higher-level stuff: engineering implications and applications.
Student feedback on screencasting was very positive, and confirmed many of the conclusions of previous studies summarised on the research page:
- The vast majority of students (93%) who used the screencasts reported a better understanding of the course material as a result of watching the screencast.
- A majority of students (87%) responded that they would use screencasts if offered in their other modules.
- International students stated that they found the approach particularly useful.
It is important to note that participation in the survey and focus-groups was optional – this is likely to introduce something of a reporting bias in favour of students who did actively engage and use the resources. However, we can say that when students engage with these resources they report finding them useful. The study methodology did not allow the performance of the students to be directly correlated with screencast use, so this is an expressed preference study.
- Only a minority (18%) of students reported using the screencasts only after the lecture.
- Focus group comments indicated that students found pre-session screencasts allowed active learning in the lecture and could act as a revision resource after the lecture.
- Focus groups were almost completely unanimous that the maximum length of about 15 minutes was a major strength of the approach – any longer would “completely ruin the point”.
- Where students didn’t use the screencasts, the most common reason given was lack of time, but email reminders when a screencast was published were considered helpful.