Close the distance
Kathleen Golden
September 4, 2018

Online courses give learners and instructors flexible class options, but they also pose difficulties that instructors must overcome. Research shows that online students crave more interactions with their peers and instructors. Unfortunately, it’s challenging to forge meaningful connections with people in the course through email or text-driven forums alone. The distance between students and their instructor often creates a divide -- one that’s been proven to affect learning outcomes as well as student satisfaction.

Video assessment can help online teachers bridge this divide. Video assessment refers to instructors evaluating recordings of students completing a task, demonstrating a skill or any other activity that showcases their knowledge.

I use Bongo, a video assessment platform created by YouSeeU, in my online public speaking courses. I have students complete all of their speeches online. Bongo consists of four types of video assignments -- structured video workflows that students complete asynchronously -- but I mainly use Individual Project and Group Project.

Here are three ways I am using video assessment to close the distance with learners.

Personalize feedback. In Individual Project, students practice their speeches as many times as they want before submitting a final recording. After submission, I give them personalized, time-stamped feedback to help them improve. I deliver this via video, so students can see my face, hear my voice and get to know me a little bit better. Students tend to respond better to video feedback because it shows I’m more invested in their success.

Foster collaboration. Students can also review and provide feedback on their peers' work through the platform. The heightened accountability encourages students to practice more and engage more with the content at hand.

They can also work together on group projects. They use Virtual Classroom, a web conferencing tool, to meet in real-time and discuss their group speech or other collaborative learning projects I assign. These group interactions have been helpful in building relationship and sharpening understanding of the content.

More face time. I also hold office hours within Virtual Classroom, which gives me a chance to meet every learner face-to-face and interact in real-time. This is a powerful complement to the asynchronous video interactions that allow me to build presence and forge personal connections throughout the course.

Kathleen Golden is a professor and chair of the Communications Studies Department at Edinboro University. She is active in the organizational communication, communication technolog  and small group communication areas of the field. She has most recently published a chapter entitled "Decision-Making in Organizations: A Case Study of the Use of GDSS in University Planning,” with Patricia P. Pineo (professor emeritus from Edinboro’s Math and Computer Science).

Tech Tips is a weekly column in SmartBrief on EdTech. Have a tech tip to share? Contact us at knamahoe@smartbrief.com

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