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Live from Borland, It's an Online Course!

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Peter Aeschbacher

Live television. If you’re on the East Coast, you probably don't see the exact moment the stars are dancing or the American idols are singing, but you do watch a recording of their live performance.

That concept of recorded live television is what guided Cody Goddard (’10 B.A. Integrative Arts), multimedia specialist for the College of Arts and Architecture’s e-Learning Institute, to develop a “new and improved” format for faculty to record lectures for online courses. Instead of Goddard spending extensive time recording and editing faculty lectures and inserting visual aids, faculty now record their lectures live in the e-Learning studio and click through their own PowerPoint presentation, which is directly incorporated into the lecture. The faculty members are doing what they always do, but the post-production time is slashed.

“This is more intuitive for the faculty, because they can use PowerPoint, or whatever software they’re used to, to create their presentations,” said Goddard. “It takes less time and leads to a higher-quality product, and gives the student more of a feeling of being in the room with the faculty member due to the live nature of the editing.”

According to Gary Chinn, director of the e-Learning Institute, the new system is not only fast, but also allows for consistent quality of production. “Cody has created a system that eases the production process for faculty while ensuring that the resulting video material looks the way we want it to. Both of these aspects matter a great deal to the e-Learning Institute, because we are radically increasing the amount of instructional video in our online courses while still insisting on the kind of visually engaging content that's expected of an arts and design college.”

Peter Aeschbacher, associate professor of landscape architecture and architecture, used the new format in spring 2016, for Arts and Architecture 121: Design, Design Thinking, and Creativity, a general education course. He said he appreciates that the system allows him to be visible to the student as an engaged instructor, rather than a disembodied voice over static slides. “Being able to control the slides and the image overlays while presenting more closely replicates the experience of giving an in-course lecture,” he explained. “This is important because the be-here-now aspect of education is what gives both students and faculty their creative spark.”

According to Goddard, this “record live” format is related to Penn State Teaching and Learning with Technology’s One Button Studio, a simplified video recording setup, used primarily by students, that requires no video production experience.

“I wanted to take the philosophical underpinning of that studio—recording live—and apply it to online lectures,” he explained.

E-learning teams in other units across Penn State have expressed interest in Goddard’s strategy, which he says he is still perfecting. In the future, he plans to consult with other units interested in purchasing the software and hardware—the additional components are relatively inexpensive for units that already have lights and a camera—needed to implement this system.

Aeschbacher said student feedback has been positive. “They appreciate the personal connection and that it helps them maintain their attention.”

For more information on the College of Arts and Architecture’s e-Learning Institute, visit eli.aanda.psu.edu.