Friday, May 14, 2010

Make Your Classes Accessible: Archive Them

"There's a guy at the record company who's 30, and he says, I would not listen to these songs except in this context. Somehow the recording process, the arrangements, make it more accessible." - Tom Wopat.

Accessibility is the key word for recording your class sessions. Students, like the "guy at the record company" who appreciates the recording process, find it difficult for a number of reasons to a) attend an online class session; b) pay attention to everything that's going on during an online class; or c) learn and assimilate without the opportunity to review and reflect. Fortunately, you have lots of options to record and share your Confer sessions with students.

Archives are easy, as Irene Palacios of Grossmont College demonstrates in this video.
 Once a Confer session has been recorded, it is posted on the CCC Confer website, and the links can, of course, be copied and pasted into your course syllabus, e-mails to students, etc. By clicking on the link, the students can view the entire recording, receive all files or quizzes you sent during the session, and read everything in the chat area that was posted.

One of the obvious advantages to recording your sessions is that it provides access for students who miss class.   You may see this as a two-edged sword: sure, you can accommodate students whose schedules are demanding, but what if this feature actually discourages them from attending your online class? And how do you know they've even bothered to view the archive on their own?

Larry Green at Lake Tahoe Community College uses a tried and proven method for testing student "attendance" at archived sessions: the "secret word."  He embeds a secret word in the archive and requires that students e-mail him the word in order to be credited with having viewed the session. It's also possible to track students' attendance or viewing of archived sessions (especially if you're accessing Confer from a learning management system like Blackboard).

Donna Eyestone is a veteran archiver, and she has learned the hard way to produce archives that are useful.  She no longer begins the recording at the beginning of class, when housekeeping, troubleshooting, greetings, and orienting occur; instead, she clicks the "record" button only once she's actually begun to teach.  She also has learned to build in index marks by changing the screen periodically so that viewers of the archive can jump through the recording to relevant points in the session.

Marc Knobel at Foothill College discovered that archives made it possible to extend his class time.  Although your students have to leave your online session, you may not, which means you can continue to record your session and make it available to students for review later in the week.

You are no longer limited to online, Web-based archives, which may be problematic for students who might prefer to access your recorded lectures via portable media.  The Publish software allows you to capture an archive and store it in a portable format (e.g., Flash, wmv, mpeg, etc.) so that it can be made available to students for... well, for whatever they want.

There's more! Not only can you record your session and publish it to a portable format for students, but you can also have it automatically sent to them.  Podcasting allows students to subscribe to your lectures or class sessions and have them delivered automatically to their browser or inbox. Simple, efficient, and speedy.

We want students to have access to our instruction and learning content. For some of these students, like the 30-year-old record company gentleman, the recording process and post-production options make your sessions more appealing and digestible. It's worth the trouble to learn to archive your class.

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