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Web cameras give new possibilities in itslearning

Did you know that you can record video clips in itslearning and include them in the resources you create? Some teachers even allow their students to record teaching videos, and experience shows that the students learn the material better – while having a good time.

A year seven form teacher at a primary school in Trondheim municipality, Kay Ronny Dahl has used the video recording function in itslearning with good results as part of a pilot project where the purpose was testing video in different pedagogical situations. The eager teacher emphasises student involvement in the subjects he teaches, and he has previously used the project function in itslearning in order to increase student participation.

Let the students be the teachers

After he came across the video recording feature he discovered a new teaching method for his mathematics lessons. Kay Ronny sets aside periods in the semester where the students themselves are the teachers. He let the students create a series of short recordings for different math topics as a part of their preparations for the all-day test in mathematics.

"The students say that they learn the material much better now since they actually have to explain the examples themselves," he explains. "An added bonus is that the students are really engaged and they find it entertaining."

Using the video recording function carries other advantages, Kay Ronny says. In a classroom situation the webcam can be used to film the lesson, and the clip can then be uploaded to itslearning.

"In this way, absent students can keep track of what happened in school that day, and students that require extra repetition can watch the video over again. There are many possibilities," he says.

How do we get started?

Tips

When recording work on paper it is important to ensure there is good contrast between what is being written and the paper. Use dark ink and write on white paper. The same applies when filming work on the blackboard. Good contrast is important. When filming objects you should zoom in tight in order to capture the details. Ensure there are good lighting conditions.

Morten Fahlvik, teacher and market researcher at itslearning, says he believes it's positive that students are active and engaged in the teaching.

"Most school researchers and educators point out that student involvement has a positive effect on students’ learning," Morten says. "The result is that students have to work with the thematic structure in a different way, compared with passive blackboard teaching where the teacher sketches and explains. Enthusiasm and ownership hang together. We want enthusiastic students, and we can achieve this if the students are given the opportunity to be productive."

But how can the recording function be utilised in the best possible way? Video clips can be placed everywhere in itslearning, but Morten says it may be wise to allow the students to place the videos in a discussion in a course. This way ensures that everyone can access the videos, and setting up a discussion will be less work for a teacher since all students, in principal, are able to read the discussions and respond in writing.

Some teachers may find the video recorder in itslearning too simple and therefore wish to utilise more advanced solutions. Making the video recorder easy to use is a conscious strategy, according to Fahlvik.

"Using the itslearning video recorder does not require any previous knowledge of producing video for the web or how files are uploaded or embedded into text," he says. "We have implemented pilot projects that show how useful a low threshold video recording function is. But we have also made it possible for teachers with high ICT competence to use more advanced tools. These tools can record video with other tools, and use the ‘embed’ function to upload the video clips in the context of a subject in itslearning."

Good camera equipment important

Most webcams are either built-in to the laptop monitor or can be attached to the screen with a clip. For many this makes it difficult to film anything other than the people working on the computer. Kay Ronny uses Hue’s HD webcam, which is a flexible ‘plug and play’ camera with a built-in microphone. The twistable head makes it possible to film objects on a table, film a method on paper or film a work process, for example, how to make bread dough.

Better video quality from April 2012

Based on feedback from users, we have now improved video quality in itslearning with, among other things, better resolution that results in a sharper picture. Now everything is in place in order for you to create good resources in itslearning. Read more about how to record sound and video by visiting the online help.

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