Alexandra Mauceri, a communication intern for The Wheel, wrote the following piece exploring the eLearning Studio at UC Davis.
Alexandra Mauceri is a recent graduate of UC Davis, with a major in Psychology and a minor in professional writing. When she isn’t working for the Wheel, she’s practicing her guitar skills or reading a good book under the sun.
Tucked away in the basement of Hutchison Hall is the eLearning Studio. A myriad of cameras, screens, and microphones fill the space. This media creation lab is available for professors to use to create instructional materials.
I recently met with Mark Wilson, an Instructional Designer and Educational Technologist with Academic Technology Services (ATS), whose team gave the room a makeover during the summer of 2017. ATS’ goal during the redesign was to upgrade the technology and make it more user-friendly. People can now use state-of-the-art professional video equipment without needing to learn how to run a complex camera.
The eLearning Studio has a green screen, a Learning Glass, and an editing bay located across the hall. A movable cart controls all the recording equipment in the room and has been “streamlined down to just two buttons and a joystick,” says Wilson. All professors need to do is “plug in a flash drive and record.”
Although faculty can create academic videos with a variety of other tools and resources, Wilson highly encourages them to take advantage of the professional camera, lighting, and audio provided in the studio. The room is self-service, so it is available as a free resource, requiring no extra camera operators or staffing fees.
To get started, instructors must first make an appointment with an ATS team member. After an initial conversation about teaching goals, the instructor is given a tour of the equipment and provided with information on how to create pedagogically-sound videos. Ongoing assistance is available to those who have additional questions.
The room is perfect for pre-recording lessons before personal absences, holiday breaks, parental leave, or during natural disasters (such as the fires of 2017 and 2018). However, most commonly, Wilson finds that “when professors come in, they’re trying to solve a problem [with a lesson or course].” For instance, instructors have come to him disappointed that their students are not at the level they ought to be. They do not have additional time during class, “so they build review units to help students get up to speed.” Or if a course has been taught several times, instructors know where students are going to stumble and preemptively make support videos that can be reused as additional material in discussion and lab sections.
Wilson is happy to see professors be creative with the space. He remembers one UC Davis Spanish instructor who used the green screen to create her own language lessons incorporating live actors, puppets, and props. The eLearning Studio’s technology allowed her to teach new vocabulary by transporting students to restaurants, airports, dance clubs, and other locations. “We were pleasantly surprised with the results,” he says with a smile.
Ultimately, the eLearning Studio offers faculty the opportunity to re-envision their pedagogy and to continually support and improve student learning. So what are you waiting for? Make an appointment and give it a try!
Interested in using the eLearning Studio? Contact Mark Wilson at email@example.com to make an appointment. As the eLearning Studio is available to all campus faculty, please be sure to book your appointment at least 24-48 hours in advance.