While it may be challenging to come up with creative lectures for a class of 300 students, some Yale professors this semester have found the space for pedagogical experimentation through online lecture ventures.
Through the University’s partnership with Coursera — a Massive Open Online Course platform led by former University President Richard Levin — seven Yale professors have been able to design their own online lectures, some for the first time, with the guidance of the Yale Broadcast Center and the Office of Digital Dissemination and Online Education. These professors have worked with the center’s producers to experiment with a range of new lecture techniques, an experience which they say has made them better teachers, both online and in the classroom.
“We really work with the faculty members to determine what they would like to do to transfer knowledge effectively,” said Executive Director of the Office of Online Education and Digital Dissemination Lucas Swineford. When faculty members are selected to teach a course exclusively for Coursera, media producers and members of the online education team work with them to decide the material and delivery of the course, he added.
Though the Broadcast Center has existed for several years, they have only recently begun to help professors record and format their online courses. Historically, the Broadcast Center was best known for filming Class Day events, among other duties.
Art history professor Diana Kleiner, who has experimented with online education for more than 16 years and now teaches a MOOC on Roman architecture, said the production teams at the center help tailor MOOCs to each professor’s personality and subject. She said she prefers being recorded in a live lecture as her students energize and excite her, but added that working in a studio is very effective for displaying high-quality images. In her current MOOC, she has taken previously recorded material from her Open Yale Course and added additional videos and functions to the novel online course.
Political science professor Ian Shapiro, whose MOOC is modeled after his on-campus course on the moral foundation of politics, said he went through many discussions with his producers before discovering the best fit. Shapiro added that he learned a lot from his production team and credits his producer Thom Stylinski, who works at the Broadcast Center, with coming up with the MOOC’s interactive approach.
Shapiro called his producers his “teaching coaches” and said he has brought some of the techniques he learned teaching the MOOC into the classroom. He added that he now designs his courses to focus more on student participation.
It is this process of collaboration and finding what works for each professor that is central to the Broadcast Center’s production philosophy, Swineford said. Besides benefitting Coursera users, MOOCs created by Yale professors also serve as a critical part of a larger online education strategy, Swineford said.
The Office of Online Education and Digital Dissemination is part of the Center for Teaching and Learning. The CTL, in turn, is involved in planning MOOC productions, CTL Executive Director Jennifer Frederick said.
The Yale Broadcast Center is located at 135 College St. and includes two television studios.