Based on the anonymous survey results collected at the end of the semester, with about half of the 2014 7.06 class reporting (N=45), 100% of the students who completed the survey said that they watched the first three videos, and all but two students reported watching the fourth video, even though the staff did not assign any points directly to watching the videos or using the discussion forum. Our click data from the MITx site – representing all of the registered students at the end of the semester (N=89) – also support that most students watched all four of the videos (94%, 93%, 97%, and 88%, respectively) and did so more than once (median 6, 13, 10, and 20 clicks per student, respectively). Clicks represent starting and stopping the video playback (for example, playing the video from the beginning all the way to the end without interruption would register as one click). For this 2014 data set, we did not have enough information on watching the video to separate out stopping and starting from complete watching. However, from the preliminary 2015 data collected so far, we do observe that about 90% of unique users watch a video to at least 95% completion. The students unanimously posited that they understood the concepts better with these videos (100%) than they would have had they needed to read the original literature papers, with most students categorizing the videos very useful or somewhat useful as a study aid (Figure 2). Almost all (95%) of the 7.06 students would like to see more experimental videos for other biology courses and think that future 7.06 students will find the videos useful.
The students had the ability to post questions or comments on any topic throughout the semester on the discussion forum, and to view staff and student comments and respond to them. Additionally, the staff posted the specific prompt questions to the discussion forum for each video, as well as the replies to mud slips. Most students (95%) reported reading the discussion forum posts and comments, even if they did not post. 88% of the students found the answers to the post-lecture questions by Professor Solomon on the discussion forum helpful. The majority of students described the discussion forum as very useful or somewhat useful to understanding biological concepts (Figure 2), and 74% of students would like to have discussion forums in other MIT biology courses.
Most students categorized the “Neat Experiments in Cell Biology” videos and 7.06 MITx discussion forum as very useful or somewhat useful. The questions posed by the survey were: “Did you find the 7.06 MITx videos useful as a study aid?” and “Did you find that reading the questions, answers, and comments posted by other students or staff helped you study or understand 7.06 concepts?” N=43
These videos have advantages over standard lecture, such as flexibility of student learning – students can view the videos when and where they want at their preferred speed and as many times as they want. Supporting this, our click data did indicate that many students watched the videos more than once. The videos also provide flexibility to the instructors. Making a video gives the faculty the opportunity to explain and demonstrate a complex concept in a succinct and well-organized manner, or to excite students by presenting a cutting-edge idea or technique that may not fit into limited lecture time. Also, given their modularity, the teaching staff can use the videos again for future offerings of 7.06 or in related courses without an additional time commitment. The spring offering of 7.06 – taught by different instructors – already started using one of these videos for their class as well. We believe that the videos provide an audiovisual means of learning that the students do not obtain from the delivery of content in person alone, which some students confirm in their comments. We even received several requests from students who were so inspired that they wanted to help in the creation of videos like these.
Excerpts from three students’ comments:
“I’m a visual learner, so seeing things in pictures rather than words was very useful to me. I think the concepts covered in the videos were the ones that have stuck with me the most.”
“I liked the style of the videos a lot. I think they really clarify the experiments we talk about in class, and I think they would be helpful in other biology classes as well.”
“These videos and the discussion questions help A LOT. I feel like I’m actually coming away with an understanding of the experiments and an improved ability to think about experimental design, controls, and how results can be interpreted.”