Research @ Home: Delivering asynchronous library instruction with web video during the Covid-19 pandemic

Chad Boeninger business research thumbnail

With the abrupt move to a blend of synchronous and asynchronous online learning for business students for the remainder of the semester, the faculty asked me to record a video for my research session. Here’s my writeup of how this worked out. Perhaps others will find this useful as they develop their own remote teaching plans.

Under normal circumstances, on Monday I should have delivered my business research instructions sessions from my office to over 400 students in the classroom, as I have done in the past with Microsoft Teams. However, with students not on campus and me working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, things are definitely not normal.

The Video(s)

Instead of one long, rambling video, I created six videos to divide the content into more manageable chunks. Creating six different videos also allows me to more easily recycle and embed the videos on different pages in my guides. Shorter videos means that students can watch a few videos at a time, and my YouTube analytics seem to confirm this behavior.

Usually I like to do a personal on-camera introduction with each of my videos where I introduce the content. This is important for me so that students recognized the face (and the expert) behind the voice on the screencast. Since these videos were all part of the same page, I decided to just record a general introduction to students for the first video, where I give them a little pep talk and discuss ways to connect for research help. The other four videos are demonstrations of how specific databases can be used for the personal fitness industry project. I posted all videos on a page for the specific guide I made for the semester project. The final 6th video was another pep talk vlog encouraging them to ask questions if they needed help.

I recorded and edited the videos with Screencast-o-matic using a Jabra Evolve 65 headset for audio. The audio is not as good as with the Blue Yeti mic, but it’s serviceable. You may notice a slight lip sync issue with the on-camera shots, but I believe I have that figured out for the next time. I created the custom images for the videos using YouTube templates in Canva ( the free version).

a screenshot of page with instructional videos
A screenshot of my page with the videos.

Finally, I created six simple quiz questions that faculty assigned in Blackboard. All told I have about four hours in the creation of the guide page, the videos, and the quiz questions.

Did they watch?

Well, right now, the jury is still out as my analytics are a bit confusing. According to Google Analytics, the guide page has 379 unique views since Monday. That seems to line up with the total number of 350 students, plus a few serendipitous hits from other people (perhaps faculty?). I’m basing my analytics on the past two days, as the quiz was due in Blackboard by midnight last night.

Here’s what YouTube Analytics says:

  • The top video was viewed 280 times.
  • The least viewed video was viewed 63 times, but it didn’t contain critical content. It was more of a “you got this” and “I’m here to help” vlog and was posted late in the day on Monday.
  • Average percentage viewed was 72.81. This is not bad considering that my channel lifetime average for view percentage is around 40 percent.
  • I’m a little disappointed that my “Analyze the Local Fitness Market” video (in purple below) did the poorest of the bunch. I think the resource that I demonstrate, SimplyAnalytics, is the most important tool for their project. This was my longest video at ten minutes in length, while the others were less than five.
a screenshot of YouTube Analytics, with data described in the bullets above

Takeaways

Unfortunately the data does not show that each student watched every video and that is a bit disappointing. However, it is helpful to consider that for each project, business cluster students work together in teams of four to six students. I have seen this play out in how they conduct research. For example, on my guide I might suggest four resources for understanding personal fitness consumers. Typically the team will divide up the resources so that only one student looks at a resource. They follow the same behavior when writing the final paper or creating the presentation; each student takes a section and does their part. Unfortunately this usually makes the paper or presentation look and read like it was literally pieced together, but faculty have been doing their best to discourage this practice. One theory in the video views is that the teams divided up the videos among the members in their typical divide-and-conquer strategy and completed the quiz through collaborative effort.

I will say that I am very pleased with the average percentage viewed for the videos. This tells me that those who did watch the videos watched most of the content. Even the lowest percentage watched video (at 53.6% of total viewed) is higher than the YouTube relative audience retention of similar length videos. So that’s not bad at all.

YouTube anlaytics showing the data mentioned in the paragraph above

My highest percentage viewed video outperformed the YouTube average for similar length videos. That’s pretty cool!

screenshot of YouTube analytics demonstrating that percentage viewed for the video was higher than YouTube averages

Ideas for next time

For next time, some ideas that I might consider:

  • Do the shorter videos work if we want all students to watch all of the content?
  • Would they watch a longer 20-30 minute video if they couldn’t easily divide the work among the team members? How would this affect the total percentage of the video watched?
  • Or in the case of my 10 minute video, should that have been separate videos no longer than 3 minutes each?
  • Did having 6 videos make it too easy for the teams to divide up the work?
  • Also of note is that I was crunched for time and my usual production value and edits suffered. I probably could have trimmed 30-60 seconds off of each video with additional edits or takes.
  • Were the quiz questions too easy? Should I have provided more quiz questions? Ideally they’d watch all of the videos just because their faculty told them too and that the content would help make their research easier.
  • Will the students come back to the videos throughout the remainder of the semester? Will they watch videos that they missed? Will they re-watch videos?

I also need a better understanding of YouTube and Google Analytics. Seeing as how I’ll be working from home for a bit, I’ll have plenty of opportunity for learning and improvement.

A Success?

All told, the viewership across the six videos for the past two days totals 58 hours of total watch time. That’s impressive and demonstrates something to build on for more remote/online learning projects.

If you’ve read this far, what are your thoughts? Have you done any similar analysis to your online guides, tutorials, or other learning objects? If so, leave a comment or reach out for further discussion.

What do you say?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑