Editor’s Note: In Tuesday’s post, the author explained how he used streaming media to enhance the delivery of his online course content. In this post, he discusses the impact on student learning, and answers the question … Was it worth the extra work?
The required course work consisted of a combination of six discussion topics, three short true/false and multiple-choice quizzes, three exams involving true/false and multiple-choice questions and essay topics, and one medium-length paper with options for revision.
Together, the various writing assignments for the course accounted for 70 percent of the final grade. At the end of the semester, the class median was 82.75 points and the mean was 81 out of 100 points. Three students scored A’s and two students failed the course. The grade distribution for the course was similar to the distribution when I taught the course in a traditional classroom setting. I felt that the extent of the learning that occurred in the online course was similar to what I had seen in the classroom.
To assess the impact of the streamed presentations on student learning, I reviewed the course record for each student of the number of visits and the total time spent visiting each of the content pages and correlated this with the student’s final course score. Ten students viewed nine or more of the 12 streamed presentations and a similar number of the accompanying narration transcripts. Fourteen students relied primarily on the transcripts of the narration while viewing only a few of the presentations. Four students relied primarily on the streamed presentations while viewing only a few of the accompanying transcripts. The students who studied both the streamed presentations and the transcripts of the narration had the highest overall scores, with a median of 86.25 and a mean of 86 out of 100 points. Those who relied primarily on the transcripts had a median score of 83.5 and a mean of 80 points. The students who relied primarily on the streamed presentations scored substantially lower, with a median of 73 and a mean of 71 points.
Although other factors could account for the higher scores of those students who studied both the streamed presentations and the transcripts, I think the results suggest that the presentations did enhance student learning when combined with the transcripts of the narration. The streamed presentations were not a replacement for text-based delivery of course content, as evidenced by the lower scores of those students who relied primarily on the presentations. The streamed presentations facilitated increased learning as compared to a text-only mode of delivering course content, but the presentations should be viewed as working in tandem with the text versions of that content.
Was it worth the time needed to add the bells and whistles? Yes.
Jerry Kapus is an associate professor in the Department of English and Philosophy at University of Wisconsin-Stout.
Reprinted from Bells, Whistles, and Learning Online, Online Classroom, May 2009.