A student-centered video process using iPads

The Problem: How to collect, process, and disseminate videos of student performances in a language learning class while protecting student privacy and reducing workload.

The Solution: Camera.app, iCabMobile, and Moodle

  • Students capture the video themselves
  • Students access our Moodle course using the iCabMobile browser
  • Students upload their video to a forum with special permission settings

The Background: One of the things I find important in education is that the assessment should always match the goals of the course. This is one reason why I have always found it rather silly to give students a 90-minute written exam in a conversation class. As such, for nearly ten years now I have concluded each semester of my conversation courses with conversation exams. These conversations were recorded on video for later assessment, and proved to be a bit of a logistical nightmare to process. Long story short, the teacher-hours required to process, assess, and disseminate were slowly convincing me to start giving paper-based tests again. While my colleagues and I had put a lot of thought into it, we had just not come up with a good way to get around the video processing issue while also protecting student privacy.

The Plan: The plan to overcome the teacher-centered nightmare is centered around the new iPad Classroom at our university. We have 20 new iPads set-up in the Media Center, our campus library, where I have been working to help establish the new iPad Classroom.  This video project seemed like a great opportunity to have the students create something with the iPads while testing out their usability. The concept is fairly simple: 

  • Bring six ipads to the classroom
  • Split the 24 students into six groups of four (two pairs of conversation partners)
  • Give each group an iPad, and have them take turns recording video of each other having a two-minute conversation with their partner
  • Students then use the iCabMobile browser on the iPads to log-in to our Moodle site
  • Students use iCabMobile to upload their video to a special Conversation Video Forum*

Closing thoughts: Using this format the video creating phase is now student-centered. Whereas in the past it would take me hours to process video in the office, now the videos can be uploaded mere minutes after they have been recorded. Also, students have direct access to them and do not have to wait for the teacher to provide them with links at a later date. This means that students can go straight into self-assessment while the material is still fresh and relevant.

Of course, all of this is still theory, as the pilot-run is not scheduled until first period this coming Monday. The iPads have been prepped (Camera.app set to video, iCabMobile’s homepage set to the university Moodle site, and all iPads fully charged) and the two student-assistants have been briefed in their duites as “iPad Experts” to help the students. It should be an interesting experiment. More to come soon…

Some Details:

  • A two-minute video (2:15, actually) recorded using the back camera of the iPad uploaded in this way weighed in at only 12 MB.
  • The file was saved in .MOV format, which Moodle is enabled to play
  • Video quality was surprisingly good, but background noise is a consideration

* The forum is set up using the Groups and Groupings feature of Moodle. Each student is put into a ‘Group’ with their partner in Moodle. These groups are added to a ‘Grouping’ set up for this activity, and the forum is set to use “Separate groups” permission. In this way, while the teacher can see all of the student posts to the forum, each student will only see the posts of their group, which consists of only them and their partner. This allows the partners to access and discuss their video online without fear of exposure to the prying eyes of peers.

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