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Online video library gives calculus students a resource to turn to anytime, anywhere

Ben Wiles
Ben Wiles, assistant to the head in the Department of Mathematics

When students sit down to work on math problems outside of class, where can they turn if they need more guidance than a textbook?

That’s the question Ben Wiles, assistant to the head in the Department of Mathematics, was trying to answer last spring as his department discussed implementing an alternative course model for one of its basic calculus courses.

Wiles found his solution by leveraging a few ITaP-supported technologies – BoilerCast, Camtasia, Kaltura and  Blackboard – to create a searchable library of online videos that students can view anytime, anywhere.

To create the new resource, Wiles and a group of graduate students cut up a semester’s worth of BoilerCast class recordings from the spring of 2013 into short video clips using Camtasia video editing software. The clips, which feature video and audio of instructors working out example problems, were then uploaded to Kaltura, a Blackboard-compatible application that allows users to easily share and view videos online.

“BoilerCast is a great tool for lecture capture, but we know students oftentimes don’t want to watch a 50-minute lecture video to find the two-minute clip they need,” Wiles says. “Kaltura gave us a systematic way to deliver the tedious stuff that isn’t always covered extensively in class, so students can see an instructor work out and explain how to solve the problems they haven’t yet mastered.”

Students access the videos by logging into their Blackboard Learn course site and using Kaltura’s search function to comb through the more than 500 videos. Each video is searchable by topic, problem type and textbook section, information that can be added using Kaltura’s metadata and tagging features.

“We knew that we would end up with a lot of videos, so devising a way to make the videos fully searchable was a high priority,” says ITaP senior educational technologist Stan Kruse, who assisted Wiles on the project. “Kaltura also can create media reports that summarize student activity, so instructors will be able to determine exactly how students are using these videos.”

The video library is being used with a new hybrid section of calculus led by professor Jim McClure in which students work in small groups during class with instructors available for guidance. Outside of class, students are expected to consult the videos. The interactive in-class format requires students to talk about math and explain key concepts to their peers, a stark divergence from the lecture hall. 

The hybrid section debuted this semester after going through the IMPACT program in the fall of 2013. This fall, the number of students enrolled in a hybrid section of the course is set to double from 120 students to 240.

 “So far, the IMPACT class environment has been fantastic in the sense that students are actually talking about math, which is a huge improvement over standard lecture,” Wiles says. “Typically, a calculus course is a very passive learning experience, but in this format students are constantly doing work.”

In the near future, Wiles plans on expanding access to the video library to include students enrolled in traditional and hybrid sections of the course. He also plans to add captions to the videos to ease viewer comprehension.

For more information on creating supplementary online content, contact ITaP’s teaching and learning group at tlt-consulting@purdue.edu.

Writer: Jonathan Hines, technology writer, ITaP, 765-496-7998, hines18@purdue.edu

Sources: Ben Wiles, assistant to the head in the Department of Mathematics, bwiles@purdue.edu

Stan Kruse, senior educational technologist, ITaP, 765-496-9693, stan-kruse@purdue.edu

Last updated: March 10, 2014