While she’s used Brightspace for years, last year she used the platform to create a more engaging, single point of reference class for her online students. The transition has been more than just a learning experience for Connelly’s students, she says. She herself has learned plenty along the way.
Her solution was to create short (five- to seven-minute) lecture videos, each hyper-focused on a single topic – 200 of them in fact.
The videos are multi-frame split between her presentation slides and an American Sign Language interpreter, while she delivers the mini lectures (all closed-captioned). After each video, students are given critical thinking questions to reinforce the material they just heard and encourage them to apply their learnings to problems outside biology (such as, “why might genetic testing alter the health insurance industry?”).
Students were able to turn off both the ASL interpreter and closed captions, however, Connelly quickly realized that the interpreter not only helped benefit the deaf and hard-of-hearing students, but also the rest of the class.
Working with an ASL interpreter forces Connelly to slow down in her speech and ensure each of her lessons are well-organized so they can be more easily translated. What’s more, students started watching the videos looking for visual cues in the sign language, which helped reinforce topics of conversation or lessons.
The videos also allow students to go back and re-watch the material at any time, which not only creates a more available learning environment, it’s been a huge time saver for Connelly. “It gives students access to a ‘virtual me.’”
Now, when her students want to ask her a question, she’s able to simply point them to the resources online to have it answered (and since each video is so short, they aren’t forced to sit through an entire hour-long lecture just to get their particular query). And for those who continue to struggle, using background data, she’s able to verify that they did indeed watch the material and participate in quizzes and discussions.
“Now, I don’t have to spend time walking 400 students through the material individually,” she says.