Video Express enables students to actively participate in class after absorbing pre-recorded lectures

Before he used Video Express, Professor Ron Reifenberger says his courses sometimes felt like monologues in which students assumed the role of passive listeners despite his continued efforts to engage them in discussion.

Reifenberger, professor of physics, says one of his best students once explained that because the material presented during lecture was new and complex, students required time to absorb it before formulating questions about what they did not understand.

Professor Hoelle records a lecture using Video Express
Matthew Hoelle, assistant professor of economics, records a course lecture using a Video Express room in Rawls Hall. 

In May 2014, Reifenberger developed a flipped course in quantum mechanics in which students could view lectures recorded using Video Express before coming to class. This change yielded several improvements, the professor says, including rich and lengthy discussion sessions and increased attendance and in-depth conversations during his office hours.

“The capabilities enabled by Video Express make it relatively comfortable to tape lectures in advance, and also allow a student to view any lecture – multiple times if need be – at a time and location that is most convenient for that student,” Reifenberger says. “This at least establishes a framework that enables students to actively participate in class, which is crucial for them to fully benefit from the University experience.”

Pre-calibrated and ready to record with the touch of a button, Video Express gives users the means to produce high-quality videos on any subject with minimal technical know-how. It also makes it easy to record, access, and download video, which is automatically sent to a media server and made available through the Video Express website after recording.

The service has continued to expand, enabling more than 13,000 video recordings on a broad range of disciplines since starting with a single room in 2012. Since then, the service has fulfilled a variety of needs, from recording staff training videos to helping students studying atmospheric sciences practice forecasting the weather.

Users set records in February and March, recording more than 1,000 videos each month, and the numbers appear to be climbing. Today there are nine rooms across the Purdue system, with five more in the works.

Matthew Hoelle, assistant professor of economics, has the highest number of recordings in Video Express. He says the videos give students the ability to learn at their own pace, which is useful for multi-step processes such as analyzing data.

“In one video I teach students how to download data from the Federal Reserve website and analyze in Excel, and the recording has a capture of my screen doing each of these steps,” Hoelle says. “Students may pause the video and do each of these steps while following along. It’s almost like I’m right there talking them through it, which you could never achieve in a large class.”

Matt Hoelle records a video using Video Express

As a result, Hoelle is able to reallocate precious class time for group work and presentations instead of going over details students already comprehend from the recordings.

David Hummels, interim dean of the Krannert School of Management and professor of economics, says he typically spends about 15 minutes in a Video Express room to make a 10-minute video and believes the return in student learning is well worth the investment of his time.

“People like people, and I think my students are responsive to the content presented in the recordings in a way they wouldn’t be if they read it in a book,” Hummels says. “This is literally a push-button technology that requires no supplementary support but still delivers a superb product.”

Faculty and staff interested in learning more about Video Express may email to request a training session. Individuals also may review the Video Express Quick Start Guide for additional information.

To learn more about technology tools available to faculty and staff, visit ITaP’s teaching and learning website, browse the "Guide to ITaP Services" or bookmark the Instructional Development Center blog.

Writer: Andrea Thomas, ITaP technology writer, 765-496-8204,

Sources: Matthew Hoelle, assistant professor of economics, 765-496-2737,

David Hummels, interim dean of the Krannert School of Management and professor of economics, 765-494-4366,

Adam Lawson, associate director of software development in the Krannert Computing Center, 765-494-4534,

Ron Reifenberger, professor of physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, 765-494-3032,

Last updated: April 17, 2015

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