Six hundred institutions around the world use the Echo360 active learning platform to increase student engagement, gain greater insight into learning, and improve outcomes. Today, we feature the University of Western Ontario (Western) where Dr. Kem Rogers, Professor and Chair of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry championed the use of Echo360 to modernize the delivery of online education.
Dr. Rogers’ effort has also resulted in benefits for traditional, face-to-face classes where instructors use the Echo360 solution to not only live-broadcast their lectures to students online, but also to present lectures to students who are physically located within the classroom.
Here are just a few of the innovative ways Western uses Echo360.
Greater Interaction and Insights into Student Learning – “It’s a pedagogical tool”
Through the Echo360 active learning platform, instructors at Western are now able to interact with their students in new ways. Students are able to ask questions and identify specific points of confusion during the course of a lecture. For the first time, this information is now available to instructors and they can refine their instruction based on student feedback and understanding.
According to Dr. Rogers, the Echo360 active learning platform “is a pedagogical tool, not just a classroom recorder. It is a completely different product. Instructors love it because they can track student questions and answers. Students are engaging us through the platform in the way we want them to. The feature I find most powerful for both the instructor and the student is that they are actually using the question and answer feature to link to specific points of confusion within the lecture. That gives us context for the question in a way that we’ve never had before as instructors.”
Making Content Interactive and Accessible for Students
Instructors at Western are enthusiastic about using Echo360 in the classroom. Why? Because students immediately benefit. Instructors can focus on students by not having to fundamentally change the way they teach. They upload their PowerPoint presentation and teach directly from the PowerPoint ribbon. Instructors interact with their online students and draw or annotate on slides just as they do in their face-to-face classes. Students can take notes on each presentation slide as well as interact with instructors by asking questions or indicate if they don’t understand specific parts of the presentation. And finally, instructors can easily make changes to presentations, add supplemental material, and then send that content out to their students via the cloud.
Live Broadcasting in HD and Live Interaction Online
In one course at Western (Mammalian Histology, ACB3309), instructors now capture lectures and broadcast them live in high-definition (HD). The course is presented to 130 students face-to-face with another 120 students watching the lectures live, but online. Presentations are all image-based and the ability to precisely point out specific anatomical features is a critical requirement. This is especially helpful for students who need to be able to view anatomical features in “close up.” You can’t always see images clearly when seated in the back of a large lecture hall. Capturing and displaying content in HD solves that issue.
To facilitate interaction, a teaching assistant (TA) is present in the audience to answer questions posed by online students as the live lecture is happening. During the live lecture, the TA is logged in as an instructor and can see questions posed by online students and respond immediately. This has proven to be very effective, as students can link their questions to specific points within the broadcast or presentation. If the TA doesn’t know the answer, he will ask the question in class. The instructor then repeats the question for recording purposes, and then provides the correct answer. As a result, online students are able to have the same kind of experience as students seated in the classroom.
Echo360 – A Number One Application in the Eyes of Students
In findings presented at our Active Learning Conference in Chicago earlier this year, Western students surveyed stated they love the ability to watch course lectures from any location, at any time. Among the features they found helpful was the ability to control the pace of the lecture and repeat parts of it as necessary. They found the capability to view recorded lectures multiple times very helpful during exam review time.
Do students see the value? Student fees collected at Western are allocated to the Western student council. Students selected Echo360 as the number one application at Western. Because student support is so high, the student council voted to fund yearly licensing through the fees it collected. Clearly, students have voiced their support for the technology and have voted with their wallets.
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