Active Learning Blog

Professor Pioneers Use of Mini-Lectures with Echo360

Jan 14, 2016 8:00:00 AM by Fred Krazeise


Dr_Karl_Borden_Teaching_from_his_Office.jpgDr. Karl Borden teaching from his home office and virtual television studio

Dr. Karl Borden, Professor of Financial Economics at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, wants all of his students to adopt the discipline of thinking in financial terms.   “It is the real world - events do not just happen during my class hours.”   To keep students engaged, Dr. Borden uses Echo360’s real time classroom platform to create a 24 x 7 feed for his students. Echo360 allows him to turn his home office into a virtual television studio where he easily updates his students on major financial news events happening throughout the world. He then uses Echo360 to monitor how his students connect and engage with that content.   “Students need to be on top of this information as the world unfolds, and I can now see whether they are thinking in real financial terms.”

“I say to my students, when you exit our program I want you to be able to see the world through financial-colored glasses.”

“One of the frustrations we all have as teachers is that our time with students is so limited. We may see them 3 times a week for 50 minutes. For only 15 weeks. It is not the way the real world works.  And in that time, we’re expected to alter their thinking. But, new technologies are enabling me—in ways never before--to extend that interaction and effectively say to students, I want you to think about finance for the next few minutes even if you are in your dorm room!”

Today’s digital natives are constantly consuming short snippets of information throughout their days—usually on video and on their mobile device. Until recently, education technology was often limiting for faculty wishing to engage students in real-time. But with the expansion of mobile computing and broadband ubiquity, educators are leveraging emerging technologies to extend learning beyond the classroom.

Mini-Lectures Make Learning a 24 x 7 Activity

Dr. Borden’s use of Echo360 is elegantly simple. He uses the personal broadcast features to record bite-size content, which he calls “mini-lectures,” to help students contextualize their learnings outside the classroom. Once recorded, the content is uploaded and students receive an invitation to watch via their LMS.

“Learning shouldn’t have to stop after traditional class time ends. While at home watching the evening news or reading the Wall Street Journal, I often come across news stories or articles that I want to share with my students. Or, I have additional thoughts about class discussions earlier that day. With a home computer and whiteboard, I am able to easily capture and broadcast additional information and short observations and upload them to Echo360.  Echo360 works with our learning management system, Blackboard, to notify students when new content is available.  By requiring students to view the presentation and participate in discussion threads, I can react immediately to news in the financial press and get students actively engaged with the material, the concepts, and with each other,“ says Dr. Borden.

He adds, “I turn this into a 24x7 learning experience for the students so that they are constantly thinking and interacting with financial events and my observations about those events.”

One-to-One Learning Becomes One-to-Many

Echo360 also helps Dr. Borden share one-on-one sessions with the rest of the students in class.

“The camera and whiteboard set up in my office lets me demonstrate problems and solutions. If one student calls me with a question, my experience tells me that I can safely assume that other students may have the same question. So, I record these individual sessions, upload them to Echo360 and make them available for all of the students to view. Sometimes these sessions are short, perhaps 5-6 minutes. But, recently I recorded a session that was over an hour long. It has been very helpful for the rest of the students in class to see the results of these personal sessions.”

Insight through Learning Analytics

“My classes are usually small, 20-25 students, “Borden says. “During class, it’s easy to see which students understand the concepts and which do not through visual cues. But, getting insight into student learning outside of the classroom used to be nearly impossible.  With analytics from Echo360, it’s possible to know whether or not students are accessing the material outside of class, how much time they spend viewing the content, how many views they take. Do they stop and re-watch portions of the mini-lectures? It is also very helpful for me to know if there are particular sections of a presentation they need to view multiple times. I can then revisit the more difficult concepts again in class.”

Seeing the World through Financial-Colored Glasses

“Students have nearly universally remarked in my office or on their course evaluations how helpful the mini-lectures and supplemental materials have been. They say that this content adds an element of interest and excitement to the course that they enjoy. I have never had a student complain about the 24 x 7 nature of the course. It has helped achieve my goal of having students adopt the discipline of financial thinking as the mechanism through which they view the world and solve problems. “

Are his students taking this lesson to heart?

Dr. Borden shared this interesting anecdote.

“I was recently talking to a student about the notion that finance should be the disciplinary structure of their thinking. He said to me, ‘Dr. Borden I remember when you said that your objective was for us to see the world through financial-colored glasses. Well, it’s getting me into a whole lot of trouble with my girlfriend! I interpret everything around me in terms of the financial implications. I took my girlfriend to a movie the other night and all of a sudden I’m talking about finance and she said, get off it already!’”

It is safe to say Dr. Borden has made an impact on his students.