Article 1: Video and hybrid learning for undergraduate students

Title: Video Lectures through Voice-Over PowerPoint in a Majors-Level Biology Course. 

Author: Nathan H. Lents and Oscar E. Cifuentes

Journal: Journal Of College Science Teaching

Publication date: November-December 2009

The paper I chose to read this week talks about two overlapping learning mediums: video and hybrid learning.

I am currently learning about designing and teaching online courses. I have had doubts about my ability to engage my students in the content from a distance. The web environment places more personal responsibility on the student than on the teacher, as Lents and Cifuentes observe. In addition, my discipline requires laboratory experiences to increase comprehension and connection to the student’s life and future career. Simply replacing these experiences with computer simulations may not be enough. The authors lobby for a “middle ground”: the introduction of web-delivered video lectures to replace a portion of traditional classroom lecturers.

Lents and Cifuentes identify some problems with this approach: there is no record of attendance, students won’t get instant feedback to clear up misunderstandings, the delivery is inherently less engaging, and there is less social interaction (2009). Still, they ran their experiment. They prepared an experimental and a control group of students to take their basic majors Biology course. They would measure student success by their exam results. The software they used for the video lectures was Camtasia.

Student accessing computer for learning

Student accessing computer for learning. Image source:

The students who received the video lectures did poorly in their first exam. The instructor then had a discussion about the process of learning by video lecture. The students who were against the video lectures replied that they had trouble staying focused. However, many students were enjoying the video lectures and found several advantages to them: they could pause frequently to take notes and check their textbooks and they could re-watch the lecture several times. After their discussion session, the grades of the experimental group improved greatly.

Students taking notes at their own pace

Students taking notes at their own pace. Image source:

Before the third exam, the students answered a survey to choose the delivery method for the last portion of the course. They decided that a normal lecture would be delivered AND recorded for web posting, so students could choose the method that worked for them: this was reflected in their high grades. Lents and Cifuentes conclude that the introduction of web-based video instruction can be used successfully.

This project was a digital-age learning experience (NETS-T 2) because the instructor developed a technology-enriched learning environment, and personalized the delivery method to reach different types of learners; plus the researchers used the data from their experiment to improve teaching and learning.  The instructor delivered the lecture by using a digital age medium, demonstrating fluency in the technology (NETS-T 3, Model Digital-Age Work and Learning).  The most important part of the project for me, was that the instructor identified a problem with the delivery method and then discussed it with the students and involved them in the decision to change it.  I think this was in line with NETS-T 4, Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsiblity, specifically “address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources”.


Lents, N. H., & Cifuentes, O. E. (2009). Web-Based Learning Enhancements: Video Lectures through Voice-Over PowerPoint in a Majors-Level Biology Course. Journal Of College Science Teaching39(2), 38-46.


About Lily F.M.

Graduate student trying to learn as much as I can!

3 responses to “Article 1: Video and hybrid learning for undergraduate students

  1. If you were to create video lectures for undergraduate students in your content area, how would you go about it (briefly)? Based on what you read, know, and have experienced as a student, what do you think are the key points of creating good content-based video that also engages students? Do you think it is possible to do this in a short period of time?

    • Making video lectures would take a long time. I tried making a simple 5-minute lecture and it took me hours! I had to prepare a PowerPoint presentation which included animation built in with PowerPoint tools, and then had to try the recording at least 3 times (the first time I was cut off because the recording programs, Jing, has a 5-minute limit). Video lectures take as much planning, or longer, than a standard lecture. You have to prepare your content for clarity and flow, set it up for a digital format (for me it’s usually a mix of slides and video), and speak clearly but enthusiastically (or you risk boring your students).

  2. I agree that these videos and this type of lecture will be beneficial for students. While some may not find the videos helpful, it does not mean that a teacher should stop providing them, it just allows the students who find them to be helpful to continue watching them. It is important that as teachers, we provide our students with the most abundant amount of information and in multiple ways to enhance their learning experience- this is something I think you and I both agree on. I found myself nodding in agreement later when you stated, “the most important part of the project for me, was that the instructor identified a problem with the delivery method and then discussed it with the students and involved them in the decision to change it”, this shows that both the students and the teacher took part in making each other’s learning experience better. Nice work!

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