Video Syllabus: Reaching Students from 3,000 Mi

Ithaca to LA

What do you do when you teach an online class 3,000 miles away from your students? Many would say, use Web conferencing to hold synchronous or live class sessions.

I would typically whole heartedly agree. However, not only am I teaching students located in Ithaca, New York while I am in Los Angeles, I am also working a full-time day job with at least a 90 minute commute. This means the earliest I’d be able to meet online would be 8 pm PST or 11 pm EST for my undergraduate students. In addition, five of my students are studying abroad in London. Therefore, unless I want to torture my students late at night or during the weekend, synchronous Web conferencing sessions are just not possible.

So, again, I ask, what does an instructor do when they teach students who are in different time zones?

My solution was simple. I created a “Video Syllabus” to introduce the course, the course environment, and my expectations in regards to requirements. I used lecture capture software that allowed me to record both my Web cam and my desktop, along with audio, at one time. I navigated to the online course environment to show exactly where the students needed to go to obtain relevant course materials. As I moved my cursor, the lecture capture system recorded the moves. This makes it easier for students to visualize where they need to go, as opposed to reading text directions.

Virtual SyllabusIn addition, having my Web camera record me as I spoke, allowed for a better interpersonal connection. Students liked that they were able to see me and put my face and voice together with the person who was lecturing and responding to Discussion forums. It shows that there’s an actual instructor involved in the course and not a random group of people hired as graders.

I already see a decreased number of emails asking for clarification on requirements then last term, when the video syllabus was not used.

This technique of pre-recording lectures for students to view before class is also known as “the Flipped Classroom” or backward designed classes. Hmm.. perhaps that will be a topic for a future blog!

I only have plans on using this one recording this term. But I may consider creating recorded lectures for future terms. Another thought I had was to replace my “weekly email” with a “weekly video”.  I’ll let you all know how it goes once I design, create, and implement regularly occurring class recordings.


About Julie Tausend Burba

Instructional Designer at Hulu, Ed Tech and Project Management enthusiast. MBA Technology Management, MS Management, BS Communications, Traveler and Cook.

Posted on March 24, 2013, in Educational Technology, ePortfolio Pieces, Instructional Design, Portfolio, Tausend Talks Shop, Teaching Tools and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Great Article Julie! I am glad you added this to the course! Having a well laid out introduction to the course is a key to online learning!

    • Thanks, for commenting! I regret not thinking of this Video Syllabus for your course section. You were my first class, and I believe I learned as much from you as you did from me! Always learning, always improving!

  1. Pingback: Video Syllabus: Reaching Students from 3,000 Mi...

  2. Pingback: The Mini Flip | Tausend Talks EdTech

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