When H1N1 made its way to the mountains of northwestern Vermont two years ago, the technology experts at Saint Michael's College were concerned students or teachers might not make it to class. The virus didn't reach epidemic proportions at the small Catholic college, but it energized the team already considering ways to bring lessons beyond the classroom.
"We're a small college and we pride ourselves on faceto- face interaction, but we also needed a way to get information to students when they couldn't be at class," said Susan Breeyear, associate director of the school's Technology Learning Center. "Everybody was trying to find ways to keep classes going with the flu. It sort of pushed us into looking into lecture captures."
After researching several products, the team found the perfect fi t with Tegrity Campus, a cloud-based lecture capture product that records, stores and indexes classes without special hardware or software in classrooms. Users can search and bookmark frames, and recordings can be viewed on a PC, Mac and many mobile devices.
"Tegrity is so easy to use," Senior Instructional Technologist Jim Millard said. "What's interesting is our regular Tegrity users are not our early-adopters. They are dedicated teachers who, for the most part, wouldn't be expected to use technology, so that says a lot about how easy it is."
The school is in its first year of a three-year contract and used a grant to purchase webcams, microphones, and cords. About 10 percent of the school's 120-member faculty regularly use the system in 29 classes, with more teachers coming on board throughout the semester.
"Students have embraced it," Millard said. "Grades have gone up. Students are not skipping classes as many people feared. And as Tegrity becomes more widespread, students are demanding it. They see the benefit in one of their classes, and they want to see it in more."
When viewing a recording, a student sees three windows: the main area displays what is on the teacher's computer; a smaller window has a picture or live-action shot of the teacher; a third shows bookmarks identified by the teacher or student for future reference.
"Bookmarks are a fantastic feature," Millard said. "Say you're watching a recording and you come to a point where you are having a hard time with a concept. You can stop, put some notes in there and send your comment to the instructor."
Likewise, teachers can bookmark areas that might require additional attention or that will be on a test. "Students can pay more attention in class without frantically taking notes," Millard said. "They can focus on what's being said, knowing they can go back and review the material again. That's a big, big learning tool."
Bookmarking has been used in a psychology class so the instructor could note body language during students' practice therapy sessions. A Japanese language instructor recorded her review session for students to watch on their own, freeing up the six hours a semester she usually spent doing in-class reviews. And a math instructor watching his own lecture realized the way he presented equations was difficult for students to understand, so he now displays them more clearly on the computer screen.
"We're seeing better teaching because instructors are taking this technology and integrating it to make their classes more engaging and interactive," Breeyear said.
For more information, visit www.tegrity.com.