Is video in HE the answer to better engagement?

Linda Storey, Director at Echo360, discusses video tech, and why these next-gen applications are the future for higher education

In a fiercely competitive sector with pressures to deliver value for money for students, successful universities are most often those that focus on one thing above all else – being student-centric.

Technology is the language that students speak and so engaging them in this way makes sense. The trend for blended learning, flipped classrooms and online facilities continues to grow. But the truly discerning university now has to go one step further to get ahead of the curve to meet the current needs of their students, while also keeping one eye on the future.

Going boldly forward

Innovative technology meets students where they are and carries them to where they want to go. Take video lecture capture, for example, which is increasingly becoming a stalwart in many HE classrooms. It enables a degree of autonomy when students want to revise or catch up on a missed lesson, and provides a flexible solution to the many undergraduates who juggle work responsibilities alongside their studies.

It is also of value to more mature learners, who might require time to become confident in their study skills if they have returned to academia after a break, and for international students who might benefit from the extra support while learning in a second (or third) language.

However, as universities place greater emphasis on meeting the needs of a more diverse student body, video is evolving far beyond the straightforward recording of lectures.

Accelerating the pace

The last few years have seen a flurry of advancement in how video recording can be used to provide active learning platforms, facilitating much more meaningful engagement between teachers and students. In fact, there are a host of exciting possibilities for interactive tools to help boost engagement and revitalise resources.

Innovative technology meets students where they are and carries them to where they want to go.

For example, staff can poll students before or during a lecture, and then incorporate responses into that day’s teaching. It is also possible to post questions to discussion boards, to make sure students come to class buzzing with ideas. For students, if a topic isn’t clear during the lecture, they can flag it up online, post questions and take notes. These then form part of a study guide that is time-stamped against lecture slides and can be stored alongside other learning materials within an institution’s VLE.

Delving deeper

When it comes to improving retention rates, video can provide great insights gleaned by monitoring how engaged students are with their learning – whether they are in the lecture hall or joining the class online. Looking at student behaviour data could show a student hasn’t accessed a single resource online for a period of time or that they do not often participate fully in polling activity or discussions during lectures. This might be an early indication that that they are at risk of dropping out of the programme entirely.

This is the kind of information that gives universities a real springboard to act quickly and help improve outcomes for students. The more recent advances in the development of video-enabled technology now make it possible for institutions to track this detailed and timely information and ensure it is used to enhance teaching and learning.

Removing limits

In the past, lecture capture systems suffered from rigid installation issues which meant universities were restricted in when and how they could be used. Advanced capabilities now mean that systems can be used across teaching locations such as laboratories, clinical settings, out in the field – the list goes on.

The move to the cloud has also put an end to out-of-date software and infrastructure becoming obsolete as soon as it is installed. And there has been a growing trend in recent years for institutions to engage an external team to provide both full support for all lecture capture technology deployed on campus (i.e. robust cameras and other hardware) as well as manage cloud-based software.

Complete experience

Getting to a place where lectures are no longer passive helps students get the full university experience at a time and place that suits their situation, keeping them well-placed to stay on track and fulfil their potential. These revolutionary new technologies provide exciting opportunities to extend teaching and learning. It all adds up to an incredibly positive experience for universities and students – a future where everyone wins.