Highlights from the 2014 Northeast E-Learning Consortium Conference: Part 1

-By Ashley Canning, Educational Technology

A little over a week ago, the Educational Technology Instructional Design team had the opportunity to attend the Northeast E-Learning Consortium Conference at Villanova University. This year’s theme was student engagement. Here are a few highlights from the event.

Using Video for Assessment

Image from www.youtube.com
Image from http://www.youtube.com

Using video in the classroom isn’t a new idea. However, it seems like instructors are always coming up with new ways to engage students through the use of videos. Presenter Ann Scheve, discussed how she uses a YouTube series called Caring for Walter in an online Health Assessment course. Students view videos within the series and perform functional assessments on one of the video’s stars, Walter, based upon how well he is able to function on his own. The presenter pointed out that YouTube creates greater and deeper learning as multimedia stimulates both sides of the brain, which results in student excitement and engagement.

The Flipped Classroom

The flipped classroom has been a hot topic in education lately and there was no shortage on sessions devoted it. One session, led by Ross Lee and Mary McRae detailed how an Engineering program recently implemented the flipped classroom model. The idea behind implementing the model was to allow for more student engagement and less lecture in the physical classroom. Their approach was to have students view a mini-lecture (about 10-20 minutes long) during the week leading up to class. They were also given a pre-class assignment that asked them critical thinking questions based on the videos.

During class time, the instructor did still give a short lecture that built upon the pre-class video and assignment, but the class was focused more on question and discussion. Students also worked in groups to research topics that extended that extended their learning, and allowed them to practice and apply their new knowledge. Groups then shared their research and findings with the entire class.

Students were surveyed following their course. Feedback indicated that they enjoyed and learned from the pre-assignments.  Statistics pulled from the learning management system also indicated that students went back and reviewed the mini-lecture videos more than once to gain a better understanding. Students also stated that they were passionate about applying their knowledge and sharing information with the entire class.

While there were a lot of positives, one negative comment students made was that the course workload was a lot. Based upon this, the instructor is looking into ways that he can balance out-of-class and in-class activities so that students are engaged and reach their learning objectives without being overwhelmed.


Image from http://bit.ly/1xoO4dG

Gamification has been around for a while, but it seems to be gaining more steam in education lately. In its essence, gamification is applying game-design thinking to non-game applications in order to make them more fun and engaging.

Presenter Andy Petroski recently implemented gamification in his Learning and Technologies Solution course. Andy’s course was designed so that students worked on teams to complete quests (assignments) and earn experience points (grades). This course had a bit of a World of Warcraft or Dungeons and Dragons feel, but you can tailor the design to your audience. One of the main tenants of Andy’s course was that students had a lot of choices. Students had to complete a variety of different quests in order to meet learning objectives and earn experience points. However, they were able to choose the quests they went on based upon their interests rather than completing the same assignment as everyone else in the class, which is common in traditional courses.

According to Andy and professor/researcher Lee Sheldon, gamification has a lot of upsides:

  • Learning is student-centered and individualized
  • There is a focus on student exploration
  • Gamified courses are immersive and collaborative
  • There are a lot of opportunities for students: when exploring, students can fail at things but learn from those failures in order to succeed
  • Studies show that students performed better and were more engaged and prepared when they came to live class sessions.

Andy also noted that it is important that faculty provide students with ongoing feedback and that you should sit back and look at how the course went to see if any tweaks are needed the next time around. One change that Andy plans on implementing in the future is to have a little more structure. Some students actually felt lost with all the freedom.

For more on gamification, check out Lee Sheldon’s book, The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a game. You can also visit the presenter’s website here.

What Do You Want to Learn More About?

Want to learn more about any of these topics? Select one or more topics below and we’ll blog about them in a future post!


Lee, R. & McRae, M. (2014, November). Flipped Classroom - On-line Hybrid Teaching. PowerPoint Presentation at the Northeast E-Learning Consortium, Philadelphia, PA.

Petroski, A. (2014, November). Implementing a Multiplayer Classroom - Results from Designing a Class as a Game. PowerPoint Presentation at the Northeast E-Learning Consortium, Philadelphia, PA.

Scheve, A. (2014, November). Using YouTube Videos as Standardized Patients. PowerPoint Presentation at the Northeast E-Learning Consortium, Philadelphia, PA.

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