The first class of a quarter is often filled with an introduction, background information, course details and an overview of the syllabus. By the time all of this information has been discussed we have lost one day of class, and since college courses are already so short, it’s important to take advantage of every single class.

In April 2007 I came to the decision that the first day of class needed to go differently in order to make better use of our time and provide students with an understanding of how the course will work.

I turned to lecture capturing and visual learning technology, which allows me to record lectures and/or instructions and share them with my students ahead of time. This allows them to go over this necessary information out of class, saving valuable lecture minutes for more important discussions and hands-on activities.

Before the first class of each quarter, my students have already watched a 30-minute online orientation video encompassing a class welcome, introduction, expectations, tools and resources and housekeeping issues. This video is split into logical sections, and sets their expectations as to how the class will work and what will be required of them during the quarter. By providing students will all of this information up-front, in a format they can re-watch at anytime, I believe it improves their chances of success.

One unique challenge for my students is learning how to navigate a new learning environment that’s built online rather than in their notebook.

While this may take an adjustment at first, students generally internalize online information more quickly, especially since it’s available for them 24/7.

In this online landscape students find video tutorials that I have produced with Camtasia Studio to help guide them through the course. These videos also include all the new material they are responsible for learning.

For example, my recorded lecture on Google Picasa walks students through all the background and information they need to know about the program. Instead of typing this out or going through it in class, students can walk through this at their own speed while simultaneously using Picasa. They also have the option of pausing and re-watching the lecture to ensure they obtain its full content.


In today’s world, students are more technology savvy and obsessed than ever before.

Making lectures available on their laptops, iPhones and other devices will further drive their interest in learning because it is “speaking their language.”

Therefore, I introduce the most important concepts to my students through a video lecture to emphasize the material they need to know before they begin working on an assignment. Then I can use our weekly online class meetings for answering specific questions which provides students with a more intimate and rewarding learning experience.

Another great benefit of online learning is the ability to provide students with visual feedback. I use Camtasia Studio to provide comments to students on their homework assignments and tests.

This allows me to spend more time explaining my feedback to students and give them very specific comments and suggestions. When grading Web coding projects I record a short video that provides student with a detailed explanation of any errors they have made along with suggestions for moving forward.

Providing students a video that specifically critiques their work is invaluable in their learning and future success because it brings to life the entire process. These videos also come in handy when multiple students are having the same problem.  I can send them each a video explaining how to solve the problem, like using an ampersand incorrectly. These videos also provide me great content for future classes.

When creating videos for my classes I begin with a very rough storyboard that outlines my ideas. From there I develop a script to go along with the material. After recording a lecture there is very little editing that needs to be done, and even if there is some editing required, it is very quick and easy.

Considering the increased effectiveness of online lectures from a student learning standpoint, this recording time is well worth the investment. The assignment feedback videos are also very easy to record and take very little time to complete.

The best thing about video lectures is the feedback that I receive from my students. I gather comments on my videos through an anonymous class survey and have been very pleased to find that students really enjoy and value the video lectures.

Students react positively to the video lectures and request that the course continue to operate this way. Based on this response and the outcome these videos have had on class time, overall learning and assignment feedback, lecture and video capture has become an instrumental tool for my course.

Jean Kent is part of the Information Technology Faculty at North Seattle Community College and has worked there for over 30 years. She loves teaching and getting to know all of her students. She has been teaching online since 1997 and continues trying out new technologies to improve student learning.