Anna Vasilchenko, Dr Fernando Russo Abegão, Teaching Fellow and Dr Matthew Dyson, Research Fellow
School of Computing and the School of Engineering
Science, Agriculture and Engineering
What did you do?
Used student-made videos to introduce students to key concepts prior to physical computing workshops.
Who is involved?
Anna Vasilchenko (School of Computing), Fernando Russo Abegão (School of Engineering) and Matthew Dyson (School of Engineering).
How did you do it?
This case study is a part of a bigger university project that aims to evaluate a new pedagogical approach, called Self-Flipped Classroom (SFC). Self-Flipped Classroom involves reuse of learner-generated materials (self- part of the name) in the Flipped Classroom pedagogical model (-flip part of the name).
In the first phase of the project, undergraduate Computing Science students were asked to create short videos (2-5 min) as part of their regular module assignment to explain key concepts of physical computing in a simple way and using hardware and software demonstrations whenever possible. These videos were part of the assessed coursework which ensured that the students put in a good level of effort into generation of quality materials.
In the second phase of the project, a selection of those videos were used to introduce engineering and science students to key concepts they needed to master for a physical computing workshop. The videos were uploaded to a private YouTube channel and the link to the playlist was sent to the students 2 weeks before the workshop. 1 week and then 2 days before the workshop students received reminders to watch the videos. Also, some headphones were made available on the day for any students who had not managed to watch the videos beforehand, although those were actually not necessary as all students had completed the task ahead.
The students then made use of the concepts learnt in the videos to complete two practical workshops on physical computing, involving Python coding to interface sensors and a bionic hand with Raspberry Pi mini-computers.
From creating students:
About making a video as part of learning:
‘I learned how to create a concise and informational video, which can be used to demonstrate my knowledge in a more ‘interesting’ way.’
About making a video tutorial:
‘It did force me to gain an understanding of the task thoroughly so that I knew I had the knowledge to explain precisely what to do.’
From the students who used the videos to learn:
About learning from videos before coming to the class:
‘I think it’s a good idea because we’re all going to be on different levels of knowledge. So, having even the basics re-taught, you’re like ‘oh I remember that’ or ‘oh I haven’t covered that yet’. But you can also skip ahead if you like, because I’ve done some of the circuit stuff so obviously that bit I was like ‘oh I know this already,’ but at the same time it was good to get a refresher.’
About saving time at the workshop:
‘It does save time and we saved a lot of time today, because we could have been doing that instead at the start, rather than just going straight into programming. And I think that is one of the best, useful things about it, saving time.’
Why did you do it?
There were two main reasons to adopt this approach.
From the pedagogical point of view, we wanted to understand how students learn through making videos, as literature strongly suggests that students learn better through creation of learning artefacts (see for example: Mcloughlin and Lee, 2008; Hamer, J. et al. 2008, Hoban, Nielsen, and Carceller, 2010). We also wanted to see how other students would learn from student-generated videos, particularly in an inter-disciplinary setting of exchange of skills and knowledge (in this case between Computing Science students and other Sciences and Engineering students).
The second reason was more practical from the instructor point of view: to save some time and improve student engagement during the workshops. By asking students to learn the key concepts beforehand from the videos, we were hoping to free more time for hands-on activities so that the students could complete more tasks in the class having access to the physical tools and instructors’ expertise if they need it.
Does it work?
The effectiveness of this practice could be evaluated from three perspectives: 1) students who create the video materials, 2) students who learn from those materials, and 3) instructors who facilitate the learning process applying the Self-Flipped Classroom pedagogy.
First, the creation of video tutorials was extremely beneficial for computing science students. Not only were they all able to complete the task reasonably well (according to the course marks), but they also acquired additional skills and literacies through the process. Such skills as collaboration, communication, information and media literacy are among those that are listed as essential 21st Century Skills [see the Framework for 21st Century Learning http://www.battelleforkids.org/networks/p21]. Our analysis of the students’ work shows that the students demonstrated the development of these skills, see [Vasilchenko et al. 2017 and Vasilchenko et al. 2018]. Moreover, many students in the research interviews said that they prefer video making to traditional report writing and exams.
Second, all students who attended the physical computing workshops reported that they watched videos that were relevant to their prior level of knowledge on the topic and this has helped them to prepare for the workshop very efficiently. This prior preparation was especially useful for a very mixed group of students that we had at the workshop (they were representatives of both undergraduate and postgraduate students from a number of Science and Engineering programmes). Students also commented on how watching introductory videos before applying the new concepts in practice has helped them to solidify their knowledge. A questionnaire was given to the students before and after the workshops which showed a 48% increase (P=0.05) in programming confidence at the end of the workshops, compared to before.
Third, from an instructor point of view, in addition to the solid learning outcomes for both the video creating and video reusing students (as seen from course marks, as well as students’ questionnaires and interviews), introduction of the video materials has helped to save time at the workshop cutting down the introductory “lecturing” section to less than 20 min and focusing the classroom time on the development of the practical activities.
Mcloughlin and M. J. W. Lee, 2008, “The Three P’s of Pedagogy for the Networked Society,” International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, vol. 20, no. 1, pp. 10–27.
Hamer, Q. Cutts, J. Jackova, A. Luxton-Reilly, R. McMartney, H. Purchase, C. Riedesel, M. Saeli, K. Sanders, and J. Sheard, 2008, “Contributing Student Pedagogy,” in inroads – SIGCSE Bulletin, vol. 40, no. 4, pp. 194–212.
Hoban, W. Nielsen, and C. Carceller, 2010, “Articulating constructionism: Learning science though designing and making ‘slowmations,’” ASCILITE, pp. 433–443.
Vasilchenko, D. P. Green, H. Qarabash, A. Preston, T. Bartindale, and M. Balaam, 2017, “Media Literacy as a By-Product of Collaborative Video Production by CS Students,” in 22nd Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, pp. 58-63. DOI: 10.1145/3059009.3059047
Vasilchenko, Å. Cajander, M. Daniels, M. Balaam, 2018, “The Self-Flipped Classroom Concept: Underlying Ideas and Experiences,” in Proceedings of the IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE). DOI: 10.1109/FIE.2018.8658616