A Nice Example of a Learning Object

My colleague, Bob Rycroft, is really generous with his time. For years he has graciously agreed to guest lecture in my research methodology course, giving my students a hands-on introduction to eViews, the statistical software we use. Bob is our econometric guru, so it makes sense in terms of comparative advantage for him to give this introduction. (Okay, also it lets me off the hook.)

This year we ran into a problem–Bob teaches a course at the same time as mine so it looked like I was going to have to do the introduction myself. Into the breach stepped Jerry Slezak, our instructional technology specialist, who had turned Bob on to Macromedia Captivate. Jerry is our go-to guy whenever we have an impossible problem like trying to be in two places at once.

As a result, Bob came back to me and said, “you know I have been thinking about making a movie with Captivate. This would be an opportunity to try it out.” So Jerry and Bob got together and made the movie, which you can view at http://www.jerryslezak.net/eviews/

I played the movie today and it worked very well. I projected the movie overhead, while the students followed along working on computers in teams. I paused the movie at various points to allow the students to catch up (e.g. when they were doing the data entry) or to make a point myself. We finished the movie just before the end of class. For homework, I asked students to think about what questions they have about eViews, that weren’t answered in the movie, especially for doing their own statistical analyses. Anything I can’t answer I will take back to the guru.

This illustrates one way that IT may be able to enhance teaching and learning–by automating lower level processes to allow experts to spend more time on higher level ones. A further advantage is that students can view the movie again as many times as they desire at their leisure, something they couldn’t do in past years.

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3 Responses to A Nice Example of a Learning Object

  1. Jerry Slezak says:

    I’m so glad this worked so well – I like the fact that students can come back to this intro over and over until they reach the point that they no longer need it – it is very empowering to the student.

    I had not initially thought about the fact that this gets the person with the most expertise into areas where it leads to the most benefit for the institution – that is a great point.

    There were a couple of important items to note in the creation of this presentation. I told Bob that although it is possible to edit the presentation in Captivate, we approached this much like he was presenting in the classroom which means it doesn’t need to be “perfect.” What does that mean, not “perfect?” To me it means that pauses, ums, aws, and minor mistakes (as long as they don’t interfere with the learning) are OK. If you made a mistake during a class (hard to imagine with UMW faculty, though 🙂 ) you would simply correct it on the spot. By treating the creation of the movie this way, it really reduces the production time and makes the movie feel more “genuine” and unscripted – just like the classroom experience. So, Bob did that movie in 2 takes – we used the second one. I’ll bet that next time he will just nail it on the first take now that he is used to the process and what is involved.

    The major benefit of a short production time is that Bob may be more willing to work on something like this again realizing it only takes an hour or so, not hours and hours of production and editing afterwards. This alone is a very important aspect in the lives of busy faculty.

    Now it’s your turn to make a movie Steve!

  2. Wonderful idea, wonderful blog, wonderful comment. Now I sound like Lawrence Welk. But I mean it!

    Kudos to all three of you. Most impressive. Bet we could turn a whole lot of departments on to this idea, changed appropriately for different circumstances or needs. Improve collegiality, have fun, empower students, and speak to areas of special interest or expertise. Sounds like high-fives all around to me.

  3. Pingback: Gardner Writes » Blog Archive » That’s what I’m talking about

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