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Student-Generated Video: An Innovative Approach to Online Assessment – Featuring Alan Russell

Say you’re doing athletic training for professional athletes in Texas and you want to teach students in Idaho the physical rehabilitation methods you use. How would you do it? This is the type of challenge faced by many faculty when converting a course to online: how do you assess that students have learned to apply the techniques properly and provide them with feedback. This was the problem the Kinesiology department faced when they wanted to put together an online course that would prepare undergraduate students for graduate school-levels of physical rehabilitation and musculoskeletal evaluation, explains Dave Hammons, the director of the athletic training program at Boise State. So what did they do? They had students record themselves applying the techniques they learned.

A Closer Look

Dave Hammons, the director of the athletic training program, wanted students to have access to the expertise of Alan Russell, a professional athletic trainer in Dallas, Texas, and an alumnus of the Boise State program. Alan was tasked to work with Boise State’s eCampus instructional designers to develop the course. An important assessment in the in-person course requires students to demonstrate physical training techniques on themselves or others. The challenge was figuring out how Alan could watch students demonstrate the techniques, assess their performance, and provide corrective feedback to them in a fully online environment.

The Solution, Student Self-recorded Videos

Alan came up with the solution of having the students record themselves as they both perform and describe the technique with their phone or laptop and then upload it to a video hosting service. They then submit a link to the video through the course learning management system (LMS), where the instructor could view them and provide corrective feedback. With the capabilities of the new LMS, Canvas, the instructors can now easily provide not only written feedback, but also video feedback as well

There are a couple of benefits to this approach. Since it was recorded, Alan could watch the students’ demonstration of the techniques several times, fast-forwarding and rewinding as needed. Students could also watch corrective feedback videos over and over again as they practiced improving their techniques. Additionally, Alan could compare subsequent videos students submitted to track their improvement. Alan found that the addition of these assignments created an engaging (and modern) learning environment, which can be a challenge online.

Tips for Successful Implementation

Alan’s has some advice for others who may want to try this approach: 

  • Give students practice using the technology. While the video assignments start in Week 4 (of a 15-week course), students practice by recording self-introduction videos in Week 1. This allows them to get to know each other while also providing a chance to work through any technology problems they may encounter.
  • Use a technology that students know and is supported by Boise State (like Panopto), and record the files locally before uploading them to the platform. 
  • Grading video assignments can take a lot of time. Thirty students each recording a 5-minute video would be over two hours of grading.  To speed up the grading process, Alan would grade questions selectively. For example, if there were 7 exercises that students needed to demonstrate, Alan would personally pick one or two that he would check to count the exercise. He would skim through the others but would give careful feedback on the one he felt was most important for that set. If students had trouble with that one, he would check others. If students didn’t have trouble with that one, they likely didn’t have trouble with others. Another suggestion is to watch the videos at 1.5 or 2.0 speed. 

How-to Resources

For sample instructions for this type of assignment, see these resources:

Article Credits

Thanks to Professor Allan Russell and Hans Aagard, the Instructional Design Consultant who worked with Allan to implement the use of student generated videos in his course.