Using Videos to Allow for Active Learning Lecture Tasks

Management (Course 15)
Prof. Michael Whinston
Alessandro Bonatti
Michael Whinston
Digital Innovations & Tools
Active Learning
Blended Learning & Flipped Classroom

Delivering short instructional videos connected with concept check questions allowed for the implementation of active learning task “Labs” as part of course lecture time. 

Educational Challenge 
Students enrolled in 15.010, a core course, have a variety of backgrounds and prior knowledge associated with economic and computational work. Central to the course is the need for students to begin thinking about course materials with a more problem-solving approach instead of simply solving exam questions related to coursework. Given the distribution of experience, the course team sought a way to allow for more group engagement during course time to help facilitate learning of conceptual ideas associated with content. 

The faculty team, in consultation with the Sloan IT department and Open Learning, identified two specific areas in the course curriculum that they believed were well suited for using a flipped instructional approach. Twice throughout the semester using a combination of voice over animated videos and imbedded concept check problems, the course team had students watch videos on new content prior to a lecture session. During the lecture portion of those weeks the faculty team developed a set of “lab” questions that required students to use the skills and ideas from the video to answer new and novel questions. Students were asked to complete these “Labs” in small groups (between 3-5) while the instructional team walked around, monitored group progress, and answered group questions. Following group worktime the instructor facilitated a whole class discussion based on students “Lab” work before continuing on with a brief lecture that wrapped up the ideas of from the “Lab” and situated them within the ideas in the larger course sequence. 

Key Take-Aways 

  1. Designing in class tasks that utilized skills taught/developed in the videos was a critical part of this flipped approach. This translated to 95% of students (n=129 who completed a self-report survey about the implementation) reporting positively to the statement “the in-class session allowed me to review and apply (practice) what I learned in the video”. 
  2. One of the major concerns of the faculty team before the implementation was how students would react to a shift away from traditional lecture toward a more active learning approach. Survey results again highlighted students positive experience with the flipped approach with 86% of responding students responding positively to the statement “I wish more of the class sessions had flipped classroom videos”. 
  3. Course evaluations reflected improvement over the past year. This was even more noticeable in the students’ written comments than in the quantitative metrics, and largely due to uniformly encouraging feedback on the Flipped Classrooms.

The following student quotes constitute a representative sample of student written feedback on the course evaluations. 

" I wish we had flipped classroom throughout the course, it made me feel much more prepared for class rather than just pre-readings."

"Have more flipped classroom sessions, encourage more discussions between the students after they've read/saw the videos and done the problems."

"I really enjoyed the flipped classroom portion of the class. I believe that some of the earlier lectures in the class would be enhanced using the flipped classroom style of teaching."

"Bring back the flipped class. This was the best part of the class by far. This pulled together the strength of my core team to figure out problems"

Future work
With positive results from this initial test of flipping some content delivery, the course team will now move into the second phase of work where they will further expand flipped sessions into other parts of the course that are well suited for skill acquisition prior to class. The goal will be to develop opportunities for deeper exploration, discussion, and application of the acquired skills during active learning activities that will occur as part of lecture or instructional time.