Experiencing Flipped Classrooms: Using Camtasia Relay to Enhance Learning Experience at Morehouse School of Medicine

Guest post by the Instructional Technology team at the Morehouse School of Medicine

MSM LogoThe pedagogical concept of flipped classrooms has attracted intense attention among higher education professors. A flipped classroom is a teaching model that requires students to view pre-recorded, instructor-prepared presentations before coming to a class and thus frees up classroom time for in-depth discussion, problem-solving, and collaboration. Growing out of the interest in the pedagogical approach and the enhanced learning experience it would bring to medical students, Morehouse School of Medicine initiated the project of Digital Access to Lecture Content in summer 2011. The goal of the project is to take full advantages of lecture capturing technology and the exclusive teaching and learning opportunities offered by the technology for the enhancement of the quality of teaching and learning.

After one and a half years, several milestones have been achieved. Based on the implementation experience and the recent focused group interviews with students and faculty members in January 2013, this article shares our faculty and students’ experiences of the flipped classroom approach, and reviews the use and impact of the lecture capture technology–Camtasia Relay—on our students and faculty.

Equipment and Training

Central to the flipped classroom approach is the meaningful deployment of video lecture capturing technology. In order to get up and running quickly, the Instructional Technology team at Morehouse School of Medicine has been working with the academic leaders to provide maximum support for academic faculty: Camtasia Relay has been installed in the classrooms’ and the clinical sites’ podium computers, encouraging instructors to record their lectures as they proceed. The sound and recording equipment has been evaluated and adjusted to meet the need of classroom lecture capturing. Additional laptops, portable recording systems, and sound enhancement equipment were made available for individual faculty to check out for pre- and post- class presentations. Multiple training sessions were offered to demonstrate how to use Camtasia Relay effectively.

Stories from our students

Getting information ahead of time…

Our students appreciated the availability of Camtasia Relay videos that professors had prepared for them. The students indicated that the on-demand videos really offered them the flexibility of learning. With Camtasia Relay videos, they can better coordinate the learning time with their schedules and learn at their own pace. Furthermore, the students indicated that having information ahead of time would allow them to come to class more prepared.

Focusing on case presentation and problem solving during classes

In additional to the flexibility of learning, the students also reported very positive in-class experience. The students felt they had more opportunities to interact with professors and ask questions that really helped them understand the knowledge being taught. The students reported that the Camtasia-Relay-videos-empowered classes had better turnout rate for review sessions and discussion sessions than other classes.

“It gives us information ahead of time and you can spend class time on how the case was presented because that is where we have problems in integrating what we know with its utilities in the cases.”

“We can actually ask better questions and be a lot more prepared.”

“After reviewing the videos and being engaged in deep discussions with the professor, the knowledge bridges much better.”

Opportunities to review lectures and enhance lecture notes after classes

More importantly, the students reported that the Camtasia Relay videos allowed them to go over class content that they don’t have enough time to digest in the class and enhance their notes.

The students also acknowledged that the recorded lectures helped them to retain the memory of class content and be better prepared for course exams, and later on, STEP 1 exam.

The students watched all Camtasia Relay videos online more than once.

We want more!

The students hope more and more professors will take advantage of the Camtasia Relay technology and have more integrated learning experience through the flipped classroom approach for medical learning.

Stories from our faculty

It started incrementally

One of our faculty members, Dr. Powell, an active user of Camtasia Relay, shared his experience of using the technology in his Microbiology Classroom. At the very beginning of the Interview, Dr. Powell shared the gradual evolution of his flipped Microbiology classroom:

“When I started, I did not plan to do all lectures. But with the first couple of recorded lectures, the students liked it so much. So I decided to do it for the whole course.”

Preparing classes without interruptions

When it comes to lecture preparation, Dr. Powell shared his experience that recording a lecture in a quiet office allowed him to go through the content without interruptions.

 “It is easier to follow the train of thought and review the structure of the content when you are sitting in the office.”

Creating assignment-central classrooms

Dr. Powell emphasized on the transformed nature of microbiology classes with the recorded videos. He pointed out that the recorded videos helped the classroom become assignment-central. Sometimes the students were asked to take a quiz in the class based on the video contents or to participate in TurningPoint class discussion.

“We don’t spend class time talking about the nuts and bolts of a car; instead, we are talking about building a car or fixing a car.”

Students perform better

Much to the excitement of Dr. Powell, the students in his class tended to perform better.

“This year, the students tended to perform better in Microbiology class. Of course, in current case, we didn’t do an experimental test to affirm the improvement is coming from the recorded lectures. But from my observation, the students have asked more thought-provoking questions. They got more questions answered in classroom than have to deal with it on their own.”

Challenges

While being excited by our achievement of implementing Camtasia Relay and the evidenced benefits of the technology, we are also aware of and strive to address the concerns among the faculty members in using the technology. One of the major concerns is the potential decrease of lecture attendance. Our current experience shows that students actually turned out to be more enthusiastic to attend the classroom discussions. The students also suggested that an inclusion of a non-inclusive content statement in Camtasia Relay videos would help: “the content presented in the video is not all of the content that the students would be examined on. The students still need to participate in classroom discussion to gain a full coverage of the content.”

Camera and recorder shyness is another factor that halts faculty’s active use of the Camtasia Relay tool. Our instructional technology staff has been working closely with faculty members to coach the recording process and offer tips for successful recording. In addition, it was brought up that a more flexible Restart feature in Camtasia Relay would help in case of losing momentum of speech.

“One of the major differences between Camtasia and Camtasia Relay is that in Camtasia, you can pause the recording and start all over as needed. However, in Relay, it is a bit difficult to do so before the recorded lecture being submitted to the server.”

An Eye on the Future

Camtasia Relay has shown its capability in transforming the lecture-based, content-heavy portion of medical learning to a more interactive, thought-provoking learning process. It is the essential technology to realize the promises of the flipped classroom approach. The positive results yielded from last year’s effort encourage us to continue looking for ways to improve the use of the technology in the medical curriculum. By doing so, we can provide our medical students augmented learning experiences, and in the meantime, systematically demonstrate the empirical validity of the transformed teaching approach.