November 24, 2013

Vidcasting: Embracing a New Generation of Learners

by Lauren Lakdawala, PharmD, PGY1 Community Pharmacy Resident, Johns Hopkins Home Care Group

For many students today the thought of not having technology in the classroom would probably make them feel hopeless.  I remember receiving the technology memo prior to the start of college (circa 2000) stating that laptop computers were strongly discouraged due to risk of theft. Nearly a decade later, when I enrolled in pharmacy school, I would not have survived without a laptop computer and smart phone. Indeed, our culture is heavily engaged in a world of Internet-ready computers, tablets, readers, and smart phones. But are educators really using our robust technology to its fullest potential? In 2005, Stanford University embraced podcasting with the launch of “Stanford on iTunes” to provide students downloads of lectures, events, book readings, and even football games.1 But even podcasts are a thing of the past — enter video on demand or vidcast.

Why use vidcasting?
Vidcasting (also known as vodcasting or video podcasting) is the process of simply adding video to a podcast, and linking it to a really simple syndication (RSS). One can subscribe to the RSS feeds which then automatically download new content into software such as Windows Media Player or iTunes.2  Vidcasting serves the instructional needs of the Internet savvy generation-Y and -Z learners. According to Marc Prensky, the majority of students in higher education today are “native speakers of the digital language… [who] think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors.”3 As we increasingly rely on the Internet as our main source of information, our pedagogical approach to education needs to complement the digital lifestyle of today.4 Vidcasting allows educators to reach students in an environment in which they are already comfortable.

Unfortunately, many educators have resisted the use of podcasts and vidcasts in their classes due to fears that attendance will decline.5 However, Traphagan et al. found that students typically viewed video lectures for content review before exams, to enhance understanding of a lecture, add more information to notes, reduce anxiety related to the course — not as a replacement for class attendance.5 In addition, vidcasting should not be viewed as a replacement for interaction with the teacher, but a way to blend learning.6

What can pharmacy educators do with vidcasting?
Vidcasting can be used in a number of ways to blend learning within the pharmacy curriculum. One can use a vidcast as a pre-lecture, when something requires review on a topic that cannot be accommodated during classroom time. A pre-lecture vidcast can introduce pathophysiology and this would permit the instructor more time to focus on medications during a class session. Or pre-lecture demonstration video can give students more time to practice how to properly measure blood pressure in skills lab. A vidcast could also be used for an exam review to help “boost their [students’] knowledge…at the time it’s needed most.”2 This type of vidcast may help reduce anxiety by reviewing core concepts for the exam and, as an on-demand instructional tool, would allow every student the opportunity to access the review session materials. Pharmacy educators can record lectures at the beginning of the year and provide review sessions prior to or following exams.7 Vidcasts can also be used a way to break up long lectures so that more time can be dedicated to discussion and hands on work— such as case-based scenarios in the classroom.6 Another use of vidcasting could be student-produced videos, to fulfill the requirements for a group presentation in a class. One professor who replaced conventional in-class presentations with short vidcasts by students found that not only was class time saved, but the presentations were “better structured, more to the point, and more reflected than typical in-class presentations.”6 In the pharmacy classroom, this could be a new drug presentation, patient education, or even a business plan proposal. Moreover, students would develop new technology skills that are needed to succeed in today’s workforce.

To embrace this new era of learning, educators must remember the importance of prudently using technology to compliment traditional methods of learning. When use appropriately, vidcasting forces students to strengthen their independent self-directed learning skills. As pharmacy educators are often burdened with many responsibilities, including research and mentoring, vidcasting can add some flexibility to the instructor’s schedule. One can record vidcasts ahead of time to cut back on the number of face-to-face classroom-based meeting times. As an educator, I probably would not switch everything to blended learning, but rather focus on using vidcasts as an opportunity to enhance learning. If a majority of your class sessions employ lecture-based methods, consider using vidcasts to provide your students with a review session prior to an exam. If your class assignments include a group presentation, allow your students the choice of producing a vidcast instead of giving a podium presentation. Educators need to leverage the skills of students today and engage them with technology — otherwise you may fall short in reaching your learning objectives. The classroom is filled with technology hungry learners and it is the responsibility of educators to harness the power of technology to teach.

To learning more about how vidcast, check out these resources:

Mac and windows users can learn how to create vidcasts at:

Mac users can view this how-to create vidcasts at:

1.  Leach J. University to podcast course content. 2005. Accessed 2013 November 14.
2.  Educational Technology Network. Classroom podcasting/vodcasting. 2009. Accessed October 19, 2013.
3. Hart J. Understanding today’s learner. 2008 September 22.  Accessed November 11, 2013.
4. Educause. 7 things you should know about flipped classrooms. 2012 Feb 28. Accessed 2013 October 19.
5.  Flynn R, Newbutt N, Ackroyd T, Dastbaz M. Podcasting and Vidcasting–Delivering Engaging Learning to A New Generation. 2009.  Accessed 2013 October 19.
6.  Storgaard CS, Heilesen SB. Facilitating blended learning by means of vidcasting. 2010. Accessed November 11, 2013.
7.  Pew internet and American life project. Health information online. 2005 May 17. Accessed 2013 October 19.

No comments: