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Vodcasting: Education Of The Future

July 26, 2010, 10:07 PM by Katie Janssen

Vodcasting: Education Of The Future
SIOUX FALLS, SD - You probably remember going to school with the teacher at the front of the room and the students sitting quietly in neat rows. But education has changed; now students work in groups and participate actively in class. Even homework is different. Vodcasting is changing the role of the teacher in the classroom.

They're at the head of the room, but we caught up with three teachers who aren't exactly doing their regular instruction. For one thing, it's summer so the classroom is empty. But also, they're talking to a camera, and recording the lesson for the internet.

"It's really a three part process,” Barb Newitt, an Advanced Placement (AP) physics teacher at Roosevelt High School, said. “We set up a lesson ahead of time, record it, then edit to make the video."

Newitt’s husband, Brad, is also an AP physics teacher in Sioux Falls at Lincoln High School, and Jeff Berndt is the AP physics teacher at Washington. The three have been working together to vodcast their lessons over the summer.

In AP physics, teachers cover two college courses over a single semester, so it's easy for students to become overwhelmed.

"If we're going through new information, we're talking about a lecture for 50 minutes,” Newitt said. “At the end, kids are writing furiously, not keeping up, and if they miss something, it's gone.  It's done."

But vodcasting makes it a lot easier to keep up. The video is posted online, where kids can access it outside of school. That way they can better utilize their time with the teacher.

"Things kids need the most help with is practice time,” Newitt said. “Doing homework, applying in labs. They don't need to be in a classroom with me for me to help them with new information."

Essentially, vodcasting has flip-flopped the traditional way of learning. Classroom instruction is done at home, and homework is done in class.

"There's a lot of research that shows that kids learn better that way because of their ability to pause, rewind, listen to things again," Newitt said.

The Sioux Falls School District is receiving a grant to teach more educators how to vodcast. Around 40 Sioux Falls teachers, three from Sioux Falls O'Gorman and a few student teachers are being paid to train on the new technology.

"The really neat thing about the grant is it's focusing in on the time teachers take. It's designed to pay teachers for the time it takes to develop this," Newitt said.

And it’s a time-consuming process. Newitt says part of vodcasting is also a little bit of broadcasting; learning how to work the equipment, edit video and be comfortable in front of the camera.

Teachers received five days of paid training, plus another 165 hours to use. In the case of the three AP physics teachers, they'll have those hours maxed out before the school year even begins.

"Yep, 165 hours. It's been a long summer,” Newitt said. “But we've gotten a lot done this summer."

But Newitt says all the hard work has already been worth it because she knows students will do very well with vodcasting.

"I think they're going to love it. We're treating the same concepts in a different delivery format," Newitt said.

One that students are familiar with and one that teachers are embracing.

"I've been teaching about 14 years and I think this is the coolest thing I've seen,” Newitt said. “The most major change in how we view education and getting kids to learn material."

The grant includes some new equipment, but the three AP physics teachers had planned to begin vodcasting in their classrooms even before the district received the grant.

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