Community College Uses Live Webcasts to Create Flex Courses

Western Nevada College, serving a diverse population with many non-traditional students working full-time or multiple jobs, turned to Mediasite by Sonic Foundry to develop a learning model that allows for flexible meeting times and locations.

WNC’s distance education program serves a vast rural 18,000-square-mile area, and half of its roughly 4,800 students take courses entirely online. Rural students used to drive hundreds of miles roundtrip to one of the satellite campuses to watch transmitted pre-recorded video of lectures. But when budget cuts forced WNC to close several of those campuses, the college needed to find a new and more cost-effective way of reaching distance learners.

WNC now uses Mediasite for lecture capture on its three remaining campuses, allowing students to access live or on-demand webcasts on their desktops or mobile devices. After the first two months, faculty created more than 135 presentations that received over 2,200 views. Currently, the college offers 10 flex courses, allowing students to view lectures online or attend in-person depending on their schedules and locations. WNC hosts all its content in the Mediasite cloud and students watch the Mediasite presentations in the campus’ learning management system, Canvas.

“Our online students never had access to live lectures until we adopted Mediasite. Plus, our face-to-face students now have on-demand video of lectures to go back and review. It’s a win-win for everyone,” said Clarence Maise, WNC’s distance education coordinator. “Plus, when we saw Mediasite’s powerful OCR (optical character recognition) that automatically indexes slide text, we fell out of our chairs. We’ve told faculty to add keywords to their slides so students can easily skip to points in their presentations instead of fast-forwarding through several hours of video.”

Criminal Justice professor and Mediasite user Richard Finn says he doesn’t have to change the way he teaches.

“I walk into a classroom and lecture. I don’t even notice the camera is there. It’s a pretty automatic system, and I can see the questions from online students instantly,” Finn said. “I’ve seen quite an improvement in grades since I began recording my lectures with Mediasite, and because online students can actually see me on camera, it’s a more personalized learning environment.”

WNC plans to deploy the new desktop capture system My Mediasite in the near future, allowing faculty, staff and students to create and share videos, lectures and assignments wherever they are using their laptop’s built-in camera.

Watch Maise’s presentation “How Small Community Colleges Can Create Flex Courses Using Mediasite,” from Sonic Foundry’s Unleash 2013 user conference, at www.sonicfoundry.com/WNCwebcast.