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Looking for patterns in students’ use of Echo360 screencasts

As part of the Me2U project we are evaluating student use of the short screencasts that have been created by lecturers. Some of this information will come from student questionnaires and focus groups, but we can also look at the reports that Moodle creates when students view pages where the screencasts are held.

One of the great things about Moodle (and other virtual learning environments) is that they record which pages on a site students have visited and when they visited them. In the context of the Me2U project, this means we can get some idea of how students on the course are accessing the materials.

We have started looking at the usage statistics for some of the screencasts and thinking about the meaningful data we can extract (given the plethora of data that VLE reports produce, it’s tempting to analyse everything).

So far, we have looked at:

  • the proportion of students on the course who have viewed each screencast;
  • how these figures compare to other resources available on the course site (for example, PowerPoint slides, lecture notes);
  • the degree of overlap between those who have viewed screencasts and a similar resource that is available in another format (e.g. preparation material for practical ) – this could give us an insight into whether there are some students who prefer a more visual format;
  • the kinds of screencasts appear to be most popular with students.

We’ve only just started looking at these data on a small number of courses, so drawing any firm conclusions at this stage is tricky. However, usage stats show that students are looking at the screencasts, even when they are available in alternative formats. Also – and perhaps no great surprise – the screencasts that get the most views tend to be those that offer guidance and support on the assessment, e.g. advice on essays writing, pointers for mock tests.

So – we know students are looking at these resources – now we need to ascertain how useful they feel they are. I think screencasting offers real potential in terms of helping students’ understanding of assessment expectations and we’ll hopefully be able look at this in more detail through our other forms of data collection.