Video Creation: Beyond Flipping Lecture Capture
“Technology will never replace great teachers, but in the hands of great teachers, it’s transformational.” George Couros
Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) is now the mainstream. Aided by almost universal adoption of the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), a common component within this brave new world is the video. Its use reflects the assault on the perceived value of the traditional didactic lecture, an approach that has been questioned for many decades (see, inter alia, MacManaway, 1970) and now often reduced to a mechanical celebration of ‘Death by PowerPoint’.
As an improved re-boot, up steps the ‘flipped classroom’: “an educational technique that consists of two parts: interactive group learning activities inside the classroom, and direct computer-based individual instruction outside the classroom” (Bishop and Verleger, 2013, p.4). Videos are created beforehand, allowing an interactive lecture environment where quizzing places the student needs at the centre of their face-to-face experience (see Chen and Lin, 2012; Gulley and Jackson, 2016; Wozny et al., 2018). Advocates embed the message within higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy (see Anderson et al., 2001), simultaneously celebrating concepts such as the ‘inverted classroom’ (Lage et al., 2000) and ‘peer instruction’ (Crouch and Mazur 2001; Mazur 2009). They argue that such interactive sessions, by ensuring opportunities for discussion, will also develop critical reasoning skills (for example, see Roach, 2014; Kong, 2014, 2015). Through facilitation of greater discussion between student and instructor, there is sharper identification of the material that students find understandable and where they require supplementary support. For example, Berrett (2012) contends “the immediacy of teaching in this way enables students’ misconceptions to be corrected well before they emerge on a midterm or final exam”.
Despite these laudable claims, the research into the impact of flipping is rather mixed. Webb et al. (2021), for example, argue that the success of flipping depends upon the methodology adopted in its implementation. This perhaps should not be surprising. Imagine a situation where a 'traditional'' lecture is recorded and utilised for flipping methods in subsequent years. While it opens up opportunities to focus on activity-based sessions, it is at the cost of the opportunity to raise questions within the live lecture. Overall, it is not a significant shift in practice.
Clearly, a more refined approach would involve the creation of bespoke video material. This would include consideration of issues such as the ‘4 to 1 ratio’ concept, suggesting that a 5 minute video will ratchet up 4 times more views than a 20 minute alternative. It would also allow the ambitious instructor to be more creative. We already know that, despite student popularity, there are question marks over the merit of ‘lecture capture’ methods. Edwards and Clinton (2019), for example, write that “the net effort of lecture capture introduction on the cohort is generally negative; the study serves as a useful example (that can be communicated to students) of the pitfalls of an over-reliance on lecture capture as a replacement for lecture attendance.” (p.403). The literature points to the benefits of recorded material when utilised as a supplement to, rather than a replacement for, lecture attendance (see Trenholm et al. 2019).
This paper argues that the previous reference to the ‘brave new world’ has a more insidious link. The HE State is increasingly built on its Fordist assembly line. The technology involved in video creation risks the establishment of a production line motivated by engineering homogeneous and predictable product to be consumed by unquestioning student consumers. We suggest that the video should be used to generate a more bespoke product capable of destroying the scourge of standardisation.
To support this claim, the paper is structured in the following manner. In our next section, we summarise the two modules selected to provide illustrations of more heterogeneous application of videos. We then separate our examples across three dimensions. First, we look at how the video can be used to more successfully inform the nature of the lecture. Second, we embed the video into example alternative pedagogies. Here, we select two examples: ‘storified pedagogy’ and ‘chunking’. Third, we highlight how the video can be used to assist in the delivery of ‘economic pluralism’. In our conclusions, we offer an alternative Luddite context. Rather than questioning the logic of TEL, our approach can be seen as doubting the productivity gains from HE strategy which is overly focused on ‘plug & play’ production.
To illustrate the application of videos in generating a bespoke experience, we select examples from two Applied Economics modules. This immediately opens up a key question: What do we mean by Applied Economics? To some, it might simply be taken as a reference to a hands-on attitude to econometrics teaching. Here, however, we adapt Gallardo (2004) and distinguish between two aspects of instruction to provide information on the nature of the modules considered:
- The Theorists: Those who, by focusing on mathematical elegance, adapt general models to illustrate application on specific topics. Empirical testing for real-world application is not necessarily stressed.
- The Practitioners: Those who, by focusing on formulation of optimal economic policy, provide less theoretical detail. Mathematical detail for abstract comparisons is not necessarily stressed.
Our modules bridge between these two extremes. Thus, while there is no need for any econometric background, the ultimate aim is to question policy formulation and therefore integrate theory and empirical findings. Details of the selected modules are as follows:
Economics of Society
|This module emphasises the application of economics to real-world dilemmas. It focuses on how applied economics can be used to study ‘wicked problems’. Such problems, sometimes referred to as ‘social messes’, are often highly confrontational: How can we control problems of crime? Why do societies suffer significant complications arising from drug addiction? How can we reduce deaths from terrorism and war? Exploring the value of the economic approach in transforming policy recommendations, you’ll consider how economics can play a crucial part in such debates.|
|Considering solutions to real-world problems, this module is designed to provide an interdisciplinary perspective to economic analysis. It considers a wide range of different approaches to economic study, including: economic sociology, economic geography, economic philosophy, economic psychology and international political economy. With no prior economic or mathematical knowledge expected, it is suitable for students who want to explore pluralist economic perspectives. The chosen topics demonstrate how economic analysis improves our understanding of decision-making and assists in the design of public policy.|
Both modules have been constructed according to information provided in the review of UK Applied Economics provision by Watson et al. (2017). This proposes that, in designing Applied Economics modules, the following two key traits should be avoided:
- Homogeneity: The topics selected across Applied Economics suggest that they are primarily used to support introductory microeconomic and macroeconomic concepts. Transport Economics, for example provides a standard means to replicate internalisation of externalities used within introductory microeconomics. Watson et al. (2017) conclude that “[i]t is reasonable to assume that these modules are therefore mere shadow puppets disseminating the tenets of core provision and providing an occasion to further reinforce neoclassical core theory provision”. The modules deliberately select topics which are capable of questioning the validity of the models that are typically employed in core introductory economics.
- Insularity: Watson et al. (2017) note that “Economics derived its own language (linguistic and symbolic) from disciplines intent on proving their own infallibility, their privileged relationship with the infinite and importantly at the time harbouring little doubt that this state of perfection could be achieved”. That choice of language has since encouraged a discipline which is overly insular in its analysis. Fourcade et al. (2015), for example, note that “economists have in general less regard for interdisciplinarity than their social scientific and even business school brethren”.
Given the importance of delivering a learning experience which avoids these two traits, we will primarily be motivated by highlighting how video creation can be used in support of this endeavour.
3. Launching the Lecture
Our first video example refers to methods used to profitably introduce the lecture. Here, we have selected a topic, the Economics of Conflict, which provides an understanding of the competing approaches required in realising the impact of military spending. It is derived to ultimately celebrate the need to compare and contrast across conflicting perspectives. While ‘political economy’ might unfairly be charged as rather mundane, it gives an opportunity to introduce students to a required evaluation across schools of thought.
Video Example A: The Lecture Introduction
Those using videos for lecture introduction might find the Learning Systems Institute guidance, as fleshed out in Maphosa and Ndebele (2014), insightful. This lists the following purposes relevant for such videos:
- Gaining students’ attention
- Presenting and explaining lecture objectives
- Providing an overview of the lecture
- Stimulating students’ prior knowledge and skills
- Discussing safety issues
- Building students’ interest
- Arousing students’ curiosity
- Motivating students to learn
To some, application of such videos might be regarded as a mere ‘gimmick’. However, this charge falls foul of ignoring the literature into the factors which impair student lecture attendance. Entertainment has value in itself, with Clearly-Holdforth (2007) finding that lectures that are deemed poor due to pedagogical predictability will suffer from increased attendance threats.
In selecting which videos to showcase, we asked students to rate each video introduction across our two modules. Adopting a scale from positively engaged to negatively disengaged, the following video on environmental economics achieved the highest ‘positive score’ outcome:
Video Example B: The Attention Grabber
Further qualitatively testing of student opinion subsequently checked for evidence of curricula bias. For example, the climate crisis may simply be more appealing to students because of its topical interest. However, in terms of the above list of introduction objectives, we find that ‘Arousing Students’ Curiosity’ dominates student perceptions. This indicates how, rather than just being informative, videos should strive to build a thirst for knowledge. This is consistent with Kumar’s (2003) argument that an effective lecture should aim “at arousing students’ curiosity, motivating them to learn, and guiding them into creative thinking”. Similarly, it is consistent with Arnone’s (2003) conclusion that: “[t]o instil curiosity in students is to encourage their disposition to learn”.
While an ability to entertain should not be belittled within a lecture context, we do find that additional consideration of pedagogical approaches will further aid instructors in their video design. This is illustrated in our next example, providing an overview of the purpose of the Multidisciplinary Economics module:
Video Example C: The Module Overview
This video is primarily applied to advertise linkages across the module’s design. While enabling greater familiarity of the module during online module enrolment, initial construction reflected rejection of the standard pedagogical approach adopted in HE. Reflecting behaviouralism, the instructor becomes an authority figure who covers subject material in a discrete and linear format. This contrasts with Applied Economics ‘topic-based’ learning, where cross-curricular opportunities allow students to explore connections across different areas of learning. It is consistent with the rationale provided in Watson et al. (2014): “for learner autonomy there must be a shift away from the hierarchical relationship between academic and student. It is a call for the replacement of the dictatorial teacher with the non-didactic navigator/guide who supports student autonomy and the genuine choices that are available within the extensive and various resources of economic analysis”. Thus, this video is supplied at the same time as all eLearning support materials. The student is immediately stunned into a more dynamic experience where they can dip in and out of materials, rejecting a restricted linear learning experience.
4. Setting up your Pedagogy
We now shift our emphasis to consideration of how a more general pedagogical approach can be utilised in assisting video design. To further highlight the importance of pedagogy, consider the following example for a lecture on the Economics of Crime:
Video Example D: The Storified Approach
This video generates question marks over the instructor’s acting skills. However, it is the motivation behind its creation which is more illuminating. To avoid obscurity and elucidate on the purpose, consider first the following quote from Hayes and Williams (2013) on John Dewey: “Simply giving the student ‘logically formulated material’ to read and lectures to listen to would always be an inferior way of teaching if it was not accompanied by real tasks for students to do that engaged the emotions and body as well as the mind”.
The key to the approach is, dodging bland transmission of knowledge, that there is a shift towards emotional engagement. Here, this is achieved through the notion of storified pedagogy. As discussed in Aura et al. (2021), storification typically “refers to the wrapping of an activity inside a(n) fictional or nonfictional narrative so that the activity becomes more engaging”. The instructor has constructed a twin in their video, using the subsequent story to explain the economic approach to criminology (and subsequently how the economics, as fleshed out by key figures such as Gary Becker and Isaac Ehrlich, may still struggle to provide a coherent justification for the re-introduction of capital punishment). The gains from this approach will go beyond sustaining student interest. As described in Davidhizar and Lonser (2003), there are also opportunities from storification in enhancing self-esteem, improving on communication skills, developing critical thinking and fine-tuning cultural sensitivity.
Storified Pedagogy involves creativity and it may seem less appropriate for more technical economic topics. However, through engagement with pedagogy, there are alternate opportunities for instructors to explore. For example, consider the following video on the modelling of ‘rational addiction’:
Video Example E: The Chunking Video
Here, we have an example of using videos to help students distinguish between ‘chunks’ in the overall lecture. More information on adopting the lecture chunking approach is available in Harris et al. (2021). The central premise is that the instructor should take into account the attention-resource model, as described in Davies and Parasuraman (1982) and Warm et al. (2008). Thus, the audience will have scarce mental capacity. Once that capacity is reached, their attentive ability to maintain information will collapse. This is discussed in depth within the neuroscience literature, as reviewed by Oberauer (2019). Given these attention constraints, ‘chunking’ becomes application of a more convenient form of micro-learning (see Jahnke et al., 2020; Major and Calandrino, 2018).
Within micro-learning, the instructor ensures that learning material is provided in short, easily digested components. As illustrated in training offered by LinkedIn Learning, the focus is often on enabling self-pacing of the learning experience. Chunking, however, does not require radical overall of the adopted teaching approach. Instead, aided through the creation of videos, there is clarity over the structuring of mini-components within the entire lecture. By providing clear sub-sections, videos are used to ensure lucidity over the structure. Moreover, by switching to an audio-visual format, it provides a break for students from the barrage of technical detail. This reduces the risk of information overload, facilitates student attention and ensures that ‘chunking’ is capable of producing results similar to full micro-learning.
Providing more general support which is consistent with this outcome, Harris et al. (2021) note the following when separating a single lecture: “when goals such as absorbing the information in a lecture are viewed by the individual as achievable, this enhances motivation and is more likely to result in achieving the goal. By providing motivation for students by presenting material in smaller more distinguishable and manageable chunks, this in turn is likely to facilitate executive functions such as attention, where motivation has been demonstrated as being an important psychological variable capable of facilitating attention”.
5. Challenging the Orthodoxy
In this section we now turn to how videos can be used to promote economic pluralism. Before providing an example, we first need to explain what it meant by pluralism. One approach is provided by Denis (2009), who notes that Economics is a discipline that is comprised of “not one, but many sciences of economics.” (p.7). Students, as discussed earlier, should immediately be made aware that not all Economists think alike. They should recognise that there are multiple schools of thought, regularly generating inconsistent narratives over the nature of economic phenomena. They therefore should be able to acknowledge that Economics is not a science of ‘truth’, as there is no notion of consensus. It is by comparing and contrasting across conflicting ideas, whilst engaging with related disciplines in the social sciences, that economists can be creative in their enquiry. Given this, there is no justification to teach Economics as if an accord exists.
A simple use of a video is to introduce the nature of the debates. However, this is unlikely to be fully successful unless there is a jolt to the student’s senses. This reflects how new Economic students tend to start their studies with an already narrow view over what Economics entails. A questionnaire we gave students at the beginning of their studies included the following common responses (and similar variants): ‘the study of scarcity’, ‘consumption and production’; ‘analysis involving money’; ‘understanding inflation and growth’; ‘the invisible hand’; ‘supply and demand’ and ‘financial stuff’. To provide the required shock to student sensibilities, the following video was constructed in order to challenge our orthodoxy as ‘dead ideas that still walk amongst us’ (Quiggin, 2010).
Video Example F: The Challenge Video
This is employed to ensure that students, from the beginning of their studies, recognise how neoclassical orthodoxy – at least at some institutions – continues to dominate undergraduate curricula. The video is used to commence a discussion over transforming the view over what Economics entails. Ironically, by beginning to understand what economic pluralism might involve, the students see how economic study is even more vibrant than what they originally envisaged.
In our final example of the use of the video, we return to our overall objective: creation of bespoke product which shuns homogeneity in provision. This example, as used in Multidisciplinary Economics, provides a ‘trailer’ introduction to the learning materials on Economic Sociology:
Video Example G: The Interdisciplinary Video
In this video we continue to highlight key elements of economic pluralism. Freeman (2009) writes that, for economics, “pluralism has been misrepresented as a synonym for heterodoxy”. Thus, it can be inappropriately deemed to be a simple rejection of neoclassical economics. Replacing neoclassical economics with, say, Marxist analysis would be replacing one form of monism with another. Our video is used to further break the shackles over the meaning of Economics.
Here, we arguably see clarity over the definition of economic pluralism: returning the discipline to its interdisciplinary roots. It shows how videos can be used to help demonstrate how Economics cannot be treated in isolation. The budding Economist must embrace other disciplines. While this may be about enhancing more traditional economic understanding, it also will necessarily involve challenging the validity of accepted thinking. As Watson et al. (2014) conclude: “Pluralism is not simply about curriculum design but also the mode of teaching. These concepts are typically discussed separately, rather than being suitably integrated”.
6. Final Remarks
Our paper does not challenge the use of the ‘flipped classroom’. Nor should it taken to be evidence which is capable of rejecting technology developments such as ‘lecture capture’. Both undoubtedly represent application of videos which are popular amongst students and which arguably, at the very least, reduce student anxiety over assessment. Instead it should be taken as a warning over the threat of increased standardisation in HE. Pedagogically informed instructors should be able to locate a multitude set of criterion to enable structuring of video design. That diversity should automatically engineer greater deviation in how videos are constructed and utilised. Without that range, however, the available gains from using videos will not be fully exploited.
In the paper, we have referred to a variety of aims from using videos. All instructors, for example, should consider how they can improve on the methods used to introduce their lectures. They should attempt to engage and, through the adoption of less predictable methods, find mechanisms which retain attentive engagement within the lecture format. While the lecture is far from dead, ultimately we believe that the use of videos is conducive for the implementation of economic pluralism.
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