Erica Smithwick, associate professor of geography, has incorporated interactive video lessons into her spring 2016 GEOG 001 Global Parks and Sustainability online course, with a current enrollment of about 200. Smithwick’s creation of the interactive videos was supported through a Research Initiation Grant from the Center for Online Innovation in Learning (COIL). An October 2015 Penn State News article describes the course, offered in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, in detail.

Written into the COIL grant is an assessment component to be undertaken by Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT). Stephanie Edel-Malizia, instructional designer within TLT, will be measuring the impact on student learning of the inclusion of interactive videos in Smithwick’s course.

“Interactive video” refers to video files that have been transformed using any of various software tools so that the viewer takes a more active and attentive role, rather than passively absorbing. For example, at various points in a video, an instructor can embed multiple choice or open-ended questions to assess whether a student viewing the video has grasped the material presented so far. Interactive video tools also provide analytics showing whether and how often a video was viewed and how many viewers answered embedded questions correctly.

Still capture of a multiple choice conservation question embedded in a GEOG 001 video taken in South America.

Still capture of a question embedded in a GEOG 001 video using HapYak.

According to Edel-Malizia, interactive video tools are still relatively new. In 2014, she led a cross-unit research team of staff from TLT, World Campus, and Penn State Public Media that investigated and assessed three such tools, then produced a white paper.

Based off of the work that was started through that investigation, explained Edel-Malizia, the Dutton e-Education Institute in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences investigated additional interactive video tools, and zeroed in on HapYak. “They found that HapYak was more suitable for meeting accessibility needs than some of the other tools we had looked at,” she said. “From there, they began working with Dr. Smithwick to put together the COIL grant focusing on interactive video, and included TLT as a partner to work on providing the assessment.”

A second interactive video tool Smithwick will be employing in the GEOG 001 course was created by WPSU, “pretty much specifically for this project,” said Edel-Malizia. “Basically,” she said, “it’s a way of tagging video. Students will tag the video topics they’re watching in real time. They’ll click a term and say, ‘I see this topic being covered in the video at this moment.’ When they’re done, they will have a tally of how many times they cognitively recognized a specific subject being covered in the video as they were watching it.”

Based on that tagging, the tool will create a concept map for the student viewer showing how many times a concept was tagged, and with how many subtopics. Edel-Malizia said, “The visual of what they have tagged will be different in size, based on how many times they tagged it.”

As outlined in the COIL grant proposal, the assessment of the course’s interactive videos created using HapYak and the WPSU tagging tool will measure student impact along two avenues: understanding of the video content and the impact on viewer attitudes.

Edel-Malizia explained that to measure impact on learning, students will be asked to answer multiple choice questions assessing their understanding of content using HapYak in the moment while they are viewing a video, and to answer questions regarding videos incorporating the tagging tool after finishing viewing a video. “We’ll also have an option for students to watch without any interaction,” she said. “They’ll have the same multiple choice questions as the other two groups and we’ll look to see, did they score better or worse on those questions?”

To measure impact on learning attitude, students will be asked to complete a survey regarding how well they liked the different types of interactive videos.

“Through these assessments,” said Edel-Malizia, “we should be able to really see whether or not there’s been an impact on student learning that may change the way that we use video in future online courses.”

“It’s exciting,” she said, “because if we show that students learn better through using this interactive video rather than just plain passive video, then we might really be able to impact what’s happening in online and blended courses on campus through the use of these tools. That’s something we can begin easily promoting for more use and this type of tool may become something that we support.”

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