LoisOrientation for distance students has become increasingly important. Numerous researchers such as Tinto have shown the advantages for both students and the university of building strong links into transition and orientation programmes.Connection is seen as an important part of student engagement and we know also that feelings of isolation are common among distance students. At present a greater proportion of distance students DNC (check data in paper), often because our research shows they are unaware of what contact with and learning at university involves and/or they have no previous experience of university academic expectations and they cannot always access the help they need in a timely manner. MU has developed a Success Strategy framework which includes orientationOur orientation efforts for distance students have taken on different forms over the last 10 years. For 7 years regional workshops were held throughout New Zealand – often presented by a team of learning consultant, librarian and EXMSS representative in the evenings. This was highly appreciated by those that attended – but the fixed time and place meant that many could not attend. So 2010 saw the beginning of the on campus orientations for distance students. These were held in 4 centres (the 3 Massey campuses + Christchurch) the weekend before semester commences. The idea was to connect the students to their closest campus and the support staff working there. Whilst this did boost attendance, there were still many students who could not make it to a campus and still had to rely on non-interactive recordings and documents (and their own intitiative).The increased availability of technology now provides additional ways and so in 2013 it was decided to augment this on campus experience by making electronic attendance an option. Several of us had been involved in progrmmes that used Adobe Connect to meet with groups of students and had also used the Mediasite technology available in some of the lecture theatres.
The decision was made to use a video streaming platform Mediasite. The key reasons behind this decision are as follows: Mediasite was already in use at Massey so this enabled us to make use of theinstitutional support and knowledge that had already been developed. It also meant minimal extra organisation. The lecture theatre we were going to use for the on-campus orientation event was fully equipped for Mediasite presentations, including video camera with automatic zooming and microphones. As Mediasite allows for live video streaming of both the presenter and whatever is being projected onto the screen, it is an equivalent viewing experience for those not physically present. Mediasite also allows the consultant to engage in two way conversation with the remote virtual participants through the use of the “Ask a Question” option in the viewer.A search of the literature showed two US universities that had found it a successful but unobtrusive way for staff to integrate online learners into classroom settings for a range of workshop and orientation experiences (“Mediasite Technology”, year; “Wayne State”, year)The Centre for Teaching and Learning had also used Mediasite previously for post-graduate workshops, so our level of confidence in the technology was increased by this. It matched our wish to simulcast the on campus workshops for those who could not attend so that the virtual participants would have an opportunity to gain a sense of connection with other learners through this means (both those online and those in the lecture theatre) and that this might help allay the feelings of isolation that are common among distance students. The final benefit that led to the adoption of Mediasite for the trial was the ability to record the event. Not only could it be recorded, but (as it was a full day) the recording could also be broken up in to discreet chunks and made available for asynchronous viewing. From the above it was decided that Mediasite was fit for purpose and we would be able to provide an experience for remote participants that was both effective and sustainable.
Along with these goals of connection and engagement, the event’s overall aim was to provide an effective transitional programme that would help distance students to understand the expectations and demands of the Massey University educational system and learn how to develop appropriate approaches to meet these demands with confidence. To complement the Student Success Strategy (Mackay,date), Therefore, Distance with Massey 101 was to concentrate more on the preparedness for study by giving students a reality check of the expectations on them as students studying at a distance. Also rather than a focus on comprehensive details of assignment writing and referencing often covered in previous orientations, this event was designed with a focus on the skills that students would need over the first two or three weeks so that they got off to a good start. The orientation sessions were to lead into the subsequent online StudyUp and library workshops on assignment writing and research skills. The programme involved the following areas:The basics of navigating and familiarisation of the library site; longer sessions on managing workloads with emphasis on the type of commitment; Wall planner – effective management of study time along with other responsibilities; One lecturer talking about expectations and realities of these expectations; an introduction to assessments and online tests; a practical session on reading strategies; making the most of Moodle in their learning experience; Students sharing experiences of distance learning; Administration awareness e.g. university processes such as aegrotatsIntroduction to services and follow up workshops that form part of the Success cycle Connections with university peopleThe staff participating on the day represented a range of supports and services (senior management, librarians, success adviser, learning consultants, academic staff, Maori staff, and EXMSS ). To create a sense of connection and belonging, communication and participation was encouraged. The day began with a welcome from the Campus Registrar whose portfolio includes the support for distance students. This connection was to reinforce to the students that supporting their learning journey was important to Massey and that it was driven from the top. Other connections evolved as the presenters and experienced students talked to their specific topics. Most speakers had power point slides but some slides were points for discussion to encourage dialogue amongst students.
Using the TechnologyEstablishing Synchronous interactionThere were a range of technical considerations to take into account in planning. From a meeting with the MediaSite Support Technician we developed a better understanding of the platforms capabilities and also, decisions we would need to make. We needed to decide how to read and integrate the emails that Mediasite’s Question and Answer facility it generated. As the Q & A functionality is still functional in any recordings, student questions and comments need to go to an address that could be monitored for the whole year. The decision was taken to use one individual’s email address. This then meant that we needed an additional laptop to monitor email live throughout live session. Heather was the consultant who carried out the mediation role. Arranging for Asynchronous follow upMediasite also offers the ability to record the presentations and once start and end times are established this is automatic. One implication of this was that the individual sessions all needed to run to the timetable scheduled. So to avoid potential problems, the event was initially made as one long recording. This meant it could be (and was) cut this into smaller, more specific and accessbile chunks for later reuse. Pedagogically this meant that specific sessions could be linked to at point of need within courses, and learners would be able to pick and choose just the sessions they wanted and watch specific parts as often as they wanted as part of their own ongoing learning skills development (Ref to show that this is desirable) Mediasite streaming is made available by default to enrolled students and staff and we decided that this default was suitable for orientation However this meant that we needed to create a web page to accompany the link to orientation that explained the technical access requirements (e.g. The use of Microsoft SilverLight for viewing) the logging in procedure using ID and troubleshooting hints. Ensuring InteractiviityMediasite consists of a permanent physical setup in terms of broadcasting equipment in one of the large lecture theatres on campus. Video angles are dictated by where the presenter stands (either a wide angle view or a focused picture). Sound broadcast is via microphone (either the lectern microphone or a lapel microphone). A cordless microphone is also provided for questions from the floor. The extra functionality meant a new level of preparation for presenters was required. Presenters were briefed on good positions to stand and using the lapel microphone. Presenters were asked to make sure that they repeated questions from the learners in the room through the microphone (as otherwise those viewing remotely would not have any context for responses). Finally, we needed to think about the interactive activities that are normally carried out in the lecture theatre and how we could create an equivalent experience for online students. Simple things like handing out exercise sheets or answer keys took on another level of complexity. While Mediasite has functionality to attach documents for viewers to download, the decision was made to place these document in the allied Moodle environment instead as this mimicked what the students would be doing during semester.
Due to some last minute anxiety on our part (due to not having any experience with the technology and the lack of a practice run) we did ask that the Mediasite technician was present at the beginning of the day. This was reassuring but largely unnecessary in the end. Once the session is underway in terms of technology there is not much that can go wrong. We did discover that the cordless microphone was missing from the lecture theatre so it became even more important that audience questions were repeated through the microphone by the presenter (and this is something that takes some practice).Play the clip of Rebekah presenting (will need live internet access for this to work).Overall we had 376 live views on the day ( that is not necessarily 376 different people, but 376 unique hits on the event Stream with peak connections of 166 on the day). That is a lot for an event like this! For our first experience at live webcasting we felt the experience was positive for both presenters and remote viewers with some further learning to do and areas for development.??314 viewed 100% either live, on demand or in combination( actually this may refer to 100% OF THE SESSION THEY CHECKED INTO.)100 viewed 50 – 99% either live, on demand or in combinationLois keep checking about the number who seemed to enter at the time a session was due to start. – learner centred, choice
Page hits on the launching page came from all around New Zealand and also some overseas centres inlcuding Asia, Australia and the Middle East. With approximately 1000 offshore students, this was a target group we had not been able to reach in a synchronous manner before. Statistics from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Hamilton are not included as these would have included the students who attended at the different campus locations
We have also examined the statistics around how many people accessed recordings, where they were from and what they watched. This graph shows the Overall numbers who accessed either the live streaming and/or the recording of the total event. Most access was on the day and in the week following. After the recording was divided , Moodle analytics show that there were another xxx views. We also know from the Mediasite statistics that at least 16 people who watched live – also accessed the recordings within the first week-indicating a certain degree of self-directed interaction with the materials
As for the event, the students accessing the recordings were worldwide.
This graph shows the use/views students made of the sequence of sessions in the programme. It includes both what was watched on the day and what was watched on demand including the short videos created after the first week. What it tells us is that all topics were of interest and so there was nothing included that students found unnecessary.Therefore in terms of the content and attendance of students we were well satisfied. In fact the statistics suggest a good amount of engagement. However as an experience in place of the regional visits we had previously offered, the Mediasite experience met that need in some ways, but also did not achieve the degree of connection we envisaged. While students in the room were able to interact easily with one another and form important connections with both peers and presenters, this was not quite so possible for the online participants.
Synchronous interaction As we said Mediasite has an “Ask a Question” option in the viewer screen – which appears like a textbox. This was set up so that when students used the chat box it arrived as an email message, so the interaction is private between one student and one staff member.. This did allow easy communication for the students, and for responses to be made as soon as possible so students’ input and effort was affirmed and acknowledged. Their questions and answers were also incorporated into the sessions as quickly as possible. Heather either relayed what they said and the presenter spoke to the query as part of the sessions or Heather replied by email.
The prompt response from these students showed their desire to be part of the session as well as their desire to learn more about distance/academic learning. These numbers show that about 100 emails were received. Although we had been concerned that it might be difficult to keep up, the messages were evenly spread throughout the presentations – rather than arriving in peaks and troughs. We consider this again demonstrates student engagement with the content and an attempt at real connection with the teachers. Heather did have to be vigilant though as we found that there was about a 10 second delay, and although this does not seem much, it was often enough that the classroom discussion had moved on by the time the online student’s question was relayed to the presenter.The most interactive session planned was the reading strategies and notetaking session. Students were invited to read an article, answer some questions and fill out a grid. While the on campus students were able to work in groups, the online viewers had to work on their own. The presenter was also able to walk amongst the on campus students, but we did not feel that we created the same degree of dialogue with the online students as we had no way of knowing where they were at with the exercise. They did have the opportunity to ask questions but did not have the same experience as working with a peer. Some students did however join in the debrief session with six sending through answers. Heather made sure that these answers were brought into the discussion. While we had approximately 171 unique individuals online during the day we had email contact with 31. Once participant in particular posted 29 different questions or reponses. . To compare the level of interactions online with those in the room would be an interesting exercise. Heather some different stats here
Several issues emerged that we consider acted against our plans for a well-blended learning environment. The 10 second delay between sending and receiving and then relaying of or replying to a message was one cause of the feeling that the planned integration of the distance students into the day was not occurring to the extent imagined. (this is what 10 seconds feels like). Only the students who got together in Gisborne had the networking and peer connection that we hoped we could establish by bringing the students together in this way through Mediasite. Additionally we do not know how engaged students actually were. We do know some were as as they interacted several times, but for many it may have been no more interactive than watching a video. This was reinforced by the invisibility of the distance students to each other. Another problem, though not insurrmountable, related to the distance students confidently accessing the right materials at the right time from Moodle. In hindsight it would have been smoother to load the handouts and exercises directly into Mediasite rather than the Moodle page – keeping everything in the one environment would have made it simpler for both presenter and participant. Lastly, although the techology provides a high quality audio-visual,product, the nature of the day meant we ended up with one five and half hour recording. As it was not possible to edit this immediately as it needed to be done by the technician, it was initally uploaded as one long recording for one week. After this it was edited into shorter recordings of the different topics, but as Fig 1 shows, by then there was only a low number of students who accessed these. It would have been better to have had the separate topics initially available .
Given these issues and the experience and learning we gained from using Mediasite a different approach was used for second semester to try to achieve the same goals of connectedness and engagement. Recent research is indicating that better engagement in online learning experiences is achieved by actually communicating with the lecturer and other students . Hersh (2011) says that this type of engagement reduces dropping out – another of the Success Strategy goals. He discusses two factors important for engagment and retenton for reducing distance for distance learners: technologies that bridge people and give them the opportunity to talk in less formal or more authentic ways in online learning environments and a factor he terms human presence, described as both of sense of being in a place and belonging (Picciano, 2002, as cited by Hersh, 2011) and the ‘illusion of non-mediation’ (Lombard and Ditton , 1997, as cited by Hersh, 2011). We decided to move back to a separate event for on campus and remote participants. This meant that in each case the presenters would be able to concentrate of the experience on the particular group and cater to the different ways of communicating and engaging. Ultimately we found that the face to face and online experience were too dissimilar to blend them so that each had an optimal experience. Being learner-centred meant that in order to give each group the best experience we ran the events seperately.For the distance students we moved to Adobe Connect a Meeting software as the platform. This still allowed us to live broadcast with voice, webcam and presentations , from our desktops and offered a much more open and immediate communication channel for all participants. Using the chat functionality, learners could ask questions publicly of each other or the presenter and everyone could see responses. It is possible to see who is in the room. This means that the students are more aware of each other and it increases the level of connectedness between participants. As Connect also allows for “private chat” between participants. We have noted that people who had things in common e.g. living in the same cities communicated on the day and such connections could develop into peer support. Documents can be preloaded into Connect Meeting to push out to participants as needed.Additionally meetings can be recorded, so it is possible to upload recordings for students to watch at any time. Our goals for orientation continue to focus on developing the learning skills students need for getting off to a good startand developing what Hersh (2011) calls a human presence design that ‘takes the distance out of distance’.
Mediasite as a medium for an orientation programme for distance students
Mediasite as a medium for an
orientation programme for
Heather Lamond – Distance Library Service
Lois Wilkinson – Learning Consultant
Rebekah Tuileto’a – Student Learning Coordinator
• The Massey University Environment
• Why orientation for Distance
• How did we get here?
What we decided
• Synchronous with the on campus day
• Two way interaction for online
• Recording for asynchronous use
Guided by our Success Strategy and
Engagement Framework, aim to:
• Help them start study prepared and
aware of services and expectations
• Connect learners with the University
Pre-event decision making
• Accessing the live stream
• Presenter training
• Interactive exercises
On the day
One small glitch ... but overall...
• 41 F2F students
• 376 Live Views
• 166 Peak Connections
What it looked like...
Where were they?
Registrations came in from :
Rotorua and BOP 27
New Plymouth 13
Hawkes Bay – 7
South Island (not Christchurch) - 32
EXMSS arranged for 8 Gisborne students to watch as a group
Other Australia 15
Arab States 3
Use of Recordings
In the first 3 days there were 752 page views:
Rotorua and BOP