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Inside the University of Maryland SOD’s Video Lecture Program

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There is an easy way to attract students to your program: Don’t make them go to class. For nearly a decade, the University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD) has captured all of its faculty’s lectures on video and has made them available to students 24 hours a day via an online portal.  

Students can view the content when needed, allowing them to learn at their own pace and create a schedule that adjusts to the demands of their busy lifestyles. In a recent survey, 92% of students reported that they liked the fact that there was no attendance requirement for such classes, and 96% said the video content made it easier to learn the material.  

Each of UMSOD’s lecture halls is equipped with three-chip cameras in the front and back of the room. Each room also has a smart podium that includes tablet controls and a headset microphone, along with annotation features to highlight specific items in the course material. Students can attend classes in person (which is mandatory when a guest speaker is lecturing), stream lectures live from an Internet-connected computer or simply watch a lecture at a later time.

UMSOD has found that most students watch the videos a few days after the lecture occurs. Although the times vary, lectures are viewed primarily during evening hours. They have also found that offering video lectures helps to recruit students (69% of students said the option attracted them to the school) and helps to retain them once they’re enrolled. In total, the videos have been viewed nearly 1 million times.

On the first day a student is officially enrolled at UMSOD, he or she receives access to the entire library of captured lectures, from introductory science classes to more complex classes offered typically to second-, third- and fourth-year dental students. The library includes four years’ worth of lectures, although most students will seek out the most recent lecture on a topic when reviewing material. By allowing students access to the videos at any time, they are empowered to take greater control of their educational experiences.

These lecturers leave an indelible impression on students’ coursework. Ninety-four percent expressed interest in retaining access to the videos and materials after graduation, to refresh themselves on specific content and lessons as needed and to stay connected to the school.

Students are not the only beneficiaries of UMSOD’s video program. Professors who find they cannot teach a certain day’s class in person can record the lecture and post it online for students to watch when they are ready. Professors can also review the footage themselves to see where they might improve in their delivery, or determine whether they are missing a crucial part of the lesson.

The road to becoming a dentist, of course, must include hands-on education as well. Students take lessons in a facility that simulates what the practice of dentistry will be like once they begin their general practice work.

Lab lecturers can record demonstrations of their classwork and have it played at each student’s station. The professor can then walk through the class, providing more detailed instruction or fixing student mistakes.

Perhaps the greatest hurdle is setting an attendance policy in which class attendance is not mandatory. It’s also important to communicate the value of a video program to staff, who are likely accustomed to teaching a roomful of students and may be shocked at first to deliver a lecture before just a few. Promoting the benefits to them is key to starting a great lecture capture program.

Adapted from an article by James Craig, M.S., Ed.D., that appeared in EdTech. Dr. Craig is a Professor in UMSOD’s Division of Dental Public Health and a consultant in the use of educational technology.

Published on August 12, 2015.

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