Academic Technologies’ Heather Askildsen recently interviewed Dr. Weigold about using Echo 360 in the classroom. Echo 360 is a lecture capture tool that can be used by faculty to record lectures and make them available to students online.
Dr. Weigold shares how she personally utilizes this tool in her own courses and how lecture capture has been beneficial to her and her students. Full interview below.
Heather: Please tell me about how you have used Echo 360 lecture capture in your courses in the past.
Dr. Weigold: I have utilized Echo 360 to record my live in class presentation. I did that in order to make the lectures available to students who had to miss a class, and last winter because of inclement weather. Echo 360 really came in handy because there were several days when Pace was open for part of the day and then canceled classes later on in the day. With a 4:30pm class that had already begun and with very few students in the classroom, fortunately some of the residents students on this campus showed up and since my Westchester home is not far away I came in. I carried on and we had some interaction with the students. What was so wonderful was that the students that were not able to make it indicated subsequently that they were extremely grateful to be able to access the lecture because it meant that they weren’t missing out on some of the content material. Then at the next class session, I entertained questions based on what people had heard in person or through Echo 360, but we were able to very quickly go onto the next topic in the course, so I really found it valuable. A colleague informed me in recent days that the long range weather prediction for this coming winter is not terribly favorable, so I would think that many Pace University faculty members will be availing themselves of ways to stay in touch with their students if the weather precludes the arrival of people on campus. What I have learned, regarding some of the high schools in Westchester County, is that the students are equipped with laptop computers that they can take home and or tablets. The work continues even if there are snow days or hurricanes. Thinking about a bad storm coming our way in the next few days, I have a feeling—let’s hope that it does not affect the coast—but I have a feeling that if it were to hit that it is entirely possible that school may be closed and the power goes out. I have advised my students to print out some of the essential materials and to have their textbooks handy so they can just keep on working. Certainly by this time in the semester I think we are really into the courses and students know what’s expected of them. If they have already amassed some research material, papers, and projects due in their courses and if they printed things out or have the library books and are using any kind of hard copies they will be able to continue working efficiently and productively even during a power outage. I really think that Echo 360 in a classroom [is] a really good way of demonstrating and encouraging the participation of students.
Heather: How do you think using lecture capture has effected class participation?
Dr. Weigold: Well I think initially some students were shy and I had to joke with them and encourage them, but what I discovered was that after they had made their first presentations to the class—and the first presentations were quite short—they sort of overcame their shyness and were much more accustomed to Echo 360 to the point where sometimes when it would be activated a few minutes before class began, I would have to remind the students that [it] was recording. So I really had to be a little bit careful about what was said; it was kind of funny. But I think students got over the shyness pretty quickly. I think that Echo 360 is a great tool and the steps required to master this technology are few in number and a professor can really get going very quickly.
Heather: Would you recommend Echo 360 to a peer? Best practices?
Dr. Weigold: Yes, in fact today the colleague with whom I share my office with was having his new computer set up. At the very end my colleague saw that Echo 360 was missing, he asked the technician, and the tech put it on immediately. Then we started talking a little bit about Echo and the fact that what is so wonderful is that not only can one record the in class session but [it’s great] if you’re doing a fully online course. This semester, all of my courses are online. It is not only creating an online course that is extremely labor intensive but teaching it is as well. Today students really expect an extremely fast response from their professor and they also want to know that there is a live person out there somewhere, not just floating around in cyber space communicating with the students through Blackboard. So even though I have course documents containing the lecture material, I also have Echo 360 lectures that I recorded over the summer for this writing intense course that was offered in a classroom and is now being offered online. In addition to the Echo 360 lectures and part of the outreach to students, I’m asking students to call me or to give me a phone number where I reach them. They are encouraged to call or email me seven days a week. I do put my home phone numbers under staff information, but I encourage them to be in touch by phone and I have already spoken with a number of my students in both sections of this course. I think the phone conversations have gone well, in part because the students have experience of my presence through Echo 360.
Heather: That’s very interesting, so you’re saying in addition to having these lectures captured, just giving them a little closer access to you through your phone you found useful?
Dr. Weigold: That’s right. Because some students ask questions that really require more of an email response, what I have found is that if I can talk with a student on the phone and the two of us are [in the course] on our computers, we can just go through it together and I can answer any questions they have. I think the fact that they were introduced or became somewhat acquainted with me through Echo 360 [made it seem] that it wasn’t as though they were speaking to a stranger.