When agricultural economics Professor Larry DeBoer began recording his lectures with BoilerCast two years ago, he found that his students earned higher grades after the first recorded semester — and they have continued to do better every semester since.
After adding ITaP’s lecture-capture technology, DeBoer saw first- and second-year students in his principles of economics course perform better in a course with historically poor attendance and low enough grades to consistently warrant a curve. Other than sending ITaP a request for BoilerCast, he only needed to make one change: wear a microphone in class.
“Students come fairly regularly at the beginning of the semester, but when they realize that I don’t take attendance and the course content becomes more challenging, attendance drops,” DeBoer says. “By the end of the semester, I no longer see the several hundred students I should in this large lecture class. I find myself greeting the students who do come with ‘Welcome to my recording session!’”
Since he began teaching undergraduates in 1986, DeBoer has spent countless hours refining his lecture notes and updating the 70 PowerPoint slides of illustrations and data he’s developed for each lecture. Capturing his classes was appealing as a permanent record of his hard work as well as a portable, easily accessible source of course content for his students.
DeBoer says that poor attendance has always been an issue in this course. AGEC 217 is often scheduled at 7:30 a.m. or 4:30 p.m., neither time popular with undergraduate students. With more than 80 percent of their final grades based on weekly quizzes, two midterms and a final exam, some students who fall behind in coursework have a hard time catching up.
Once his BoilerCast recordings began, DeBoer expected even more students to miss class and instead access the lectures online. But surprisingly, his impression is that it hasn’t made a measurable difference. In a survey he did at the end of the past four semesters, about half the students listened to some or all of the recordings, while half didn’t access the recordings at all.
The recordings provide another avenue for study. “Students who miss a class can catch up. And everyone can listen to me again explain ideas they didn’t understand the first time they heard me, and they can more carefully study the visuals. That’s got to help understanding.”
In the past four semesters, DeBoer has not needed to implement an artificial curve for final grades. “Grades increased by about two percentage points that first semester with BoilerCast, which wiped out the curve points. Grades have held up ever since. I can’t prove that BoilerCast is the reason — but it’s quite a coincidence.”
For fall semester 2011, 90 students have enrolled for an online version of his course. DeBoer anticipates that his recordings will become a valuable asset in this, his first distance learning venture. Distance education students will have full access to the lectures. Lectures from past semesters remain available as well.
“Sometimes technical problems may crop up with current recordings — happily, that’s very rare,” says DeBoer. “But if it happens, students can access the library of past recordings. And ambitious students can get ahead by viewing lectures from earlier semesters.”
Instructors who request BoilerCast can select either a podcast, a recording of the audio of the class, or a vodcast, the audio recording plus a video of what appears on the classroom’s ITaP computer screen — often times, a PowerPoint slide presentation. The classroom must be one of ITaP’s 266 technology-in-classroom (TIC) sites.
After receiving a request, ITaP sends an email to the instructor confirming the class time and location and the link to the posted recordings. With ITaP centrally supporting this service, the recording for a podcast or a vodcast is automatic, requiring nothing further than simply logging in to the TIC classroom computer.
Students may access the class recordings and supplemental materials through iTunesU. Other publishing options are available. A 50-minute class is processed and available generally about 30 minutes after the session ends.
To sign up for BoilerCast, complete the request form on the BoilerCast website. Instructors can sign up anytime during the academic year.
For further information about BoilerCast, contact ITaP’s Academic Technologies unit.
Writer: Carol Bloom, ITaP technology writer, 765-496-7998, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Larry DeBoer, professor and extension specialist in agricultural economics, 765-494-4314, email@example.com
Last updated: Aug. 25, 2011