Case Study: University of Roehampton

Case Study: University of Roehampton

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Introduction

The University of Roehampton is a public university in the United Kingdom with a beautiful, vibrant parkland campus environment in the heart of bustling southwest London. The university pride itself on the guarantee it makes to all of their students: high levels of contact time with excellent teachers and researchers working at the cutting edge of their subject areas. The mission of the university is simple. They support all of their students, whatever their background, to reach their full potential and prepare them for successful graduate careers.

Pain points of the university:

  • How to ensure no students are left behind in this new reality?
  • How to ensure access and availability to all students under any condition?
  • How does hybrid and flexible work when it isn't necessarily blended?
  • How to measure the engagement and how to trigger interactions with class materials?

The context for a move to remote

As a result of COVID-19, universities in Britain are predicted to lose £2.6B in revenue, putting 30K jobs at risk and creating disruptions in the education of 2.38M students (THE Times Higher Education, 2020). All course content, including lectures, has moved online in the spring semester of 2020 and it was difficult to ensure that all students have an equal chance of accessing the material. Nationally, over the first six months of remote learning, there has been an 11% reduction in the number of students who agree they can access online learning sufficiently to complete their studies and a 10% drop who consider an online provision to be of good quality (NUS, 2020).

The pandemic fundamentally changed the context of Higher Education. Educators found themselves in the position where they had to transform all course materials to a digital format and provide online delivery of courses, while securing interaction opportunities and establishing channels of personal, face-to-face communication with students. Due to significant changes in individual life circumstances of learners, the use of asynchronous digital tools gained significance, as being able to fit with the challenges of studying from home.

How can Vialog enhance the student journey

Vialog's innovative video discussion tool allows students to interact with the course material and enhances remote teaching and learning.

  • Increase the number of interactions students have with course material online
  • Extend physical or online classes with virtual discussions
  • Facilitate timezone-proof discussions on university topics

Learn more about how Vialog enhances education →

Highlighted Use Cases at Roehampton University

Vialog has established project pilot partnerships with the University of Roehampton in 2021. The University has 7,825 students and 510 staff. The Business School (the largest school in the University of Roehampton) was in the forefront of testing the Vialog edtech features and providing feedback that was incorporated on the product roadmap.

Use Case 1: Flexible expert Q&A

  • Students and the module leader asked video questions from an external expert
  • Participants contributed at their own schedule, between 2 classes
  • A total of 26 videos were submitted and published in this video discussion
  • The following class all questions and answers were critically discussed

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"Joining the class as an external expert was quick and easy and was an interesting asynchronous way to do a Q&A." Dr Kate Orton-Johnson, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Programme Co-Director of the MSc in Digital Society, The University of Edinburgh

Use Case 2: Enhanced engagement with assessment revision

  • Integrated within Moodle, the university's LMS (Learning Management System)
    • In 50 days, Vialog video discussion had 241 unique sessions while Panopto (the default video-recording and editing app of the university) had 98
      • Vialog had 4.4 video play per session on average
      • Although Panopto had 19% more total view time, the modularised Vialog videos meant more focused student engagement
  • Students surveyed:
    • finds the Vialog films useful: 4.7 / 5
    • want to have more topics covered with Vialog 4.5 / 5
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"I'm impressed that my short modularised Vialog video content beats Panopto's engagement for the rest of the same content." @Gabor Sarlos, Senior Lecturer and Programme Convenor in Digital Marketing

Background

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The R&D carried out between January and June 2021 was co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. Innovative transcription and keyword tagging were developed to aid remote learning challenges. To read more about how Vialog's work improved accessibility and availability of e-learning, see this page about how Vialog enhances education →

E-learning at Roehampton

During discussions with Roehampton University, the Vialog team confirmed that accessibility and availability is of the greatest importance for e-learning. This inspired the team to make the tool really easy for people to use without any barrier in doing so. As Vialog is dedicated for the democratization of education and access to virtual discussions, the tool being developed also stands for accessibility in terms of making the course and student life related discussions available in every format to every person.

Vialog's Easy Participation Guarantee

  • Fully integrated with the learning platform, whitelists ensure all group discussions are safe
  • Students don't need additional logins and user setup
  • No app needed to join the discussion, Vialog works with any browser or device

Vialog's Accessibility Pledge

  • Automated video transcripts with additional easy editing
  • Keyword suggestions and manual curation
  • Keyboard navigation (arrows, enter, tab, escape)

Results

Vialog helps lecturers to deliver courses in an engaging and effective way. Based on Vialog Lecturer Interviews in 2020, university lecturers believe that:

  • a digital tool that supported short asynchronous video interactions with students would be pedagogically useful (survey response average of 4.3/5 on a scale where 5 is 'very helpful')
  • and would support teaching activities: 4.2 / 5

Participating students surveyed responded (right after the tool was introduced with the first video discussion):

  • 4.7 points out of 5 for finding the Vialog films useful
  • 4.5 points out of 5 for wanting to have more topics covered with Vialog.
  • 29% of students responded that having Vialog on Moodle as a regular, weekly option would be useful

The top-level outcome of the pilot:

  • fully responsive integration with Moodle
  • automated transcripts and accessibility features developed
  • solid pedagogical and engagement findings
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Analytics

For scientific purposes, Vialog team analysed the performance of their tool compared together with the statistics that were provided by the lecturers.

It is important to note that Vialog uses browser loads, and not doing anonymous user tracking or fingerprinting. This means, that Vialog does not know the unique users number for certain. This is for the sake of Vialog's Easy Participation Guarantee there is no log in required to watch and respond to video discussions.

With that in mind, regarding the analytics of Use Case 2, in certain engagement aspects Vialog beat Panopto.

Vialog outperforms Panopto by the number of daily users

The same length of recorded content is collaborative in Vialog...

...compared to one-to-many publishing in Panopto.

Top level outcome/findings of analytics

Panopto and Vialog actually complement each other smoothly. Vialog adds the collaborative element to the well-established class material publication software that makes students' engagement more personal and visible.

The sheer volume of camera-enabled classes together with camera shyness certainly renders many students into behind privacy shields. Further tests are required to see how that changes if the Vialog tool is introduced at the very beginning of the semester.

The modularisation of content enforced the lecturer to be brief, which can take more time to create. These one-minute-chunks however make the browsing and searching of content significantly easier to students which can come very important during assessments and recaps.

Embedding Vialog proved to be a criteria in the lecturers' journey, since the university considers Moodle as their main learning hub, where each of their implemented tools are shared. Availability and accessibility requirements were implemented based on feedback captured.

Conclusion

  • Summary of pilot from university perspective
    • Students are interested in using Vialog, and with good chance, if introduced at the beginning of the semester, it can become an integral tool for a module.
    • Academics require the personal touch of onboarding to Vialog. Not because of the tool being complicated, but because of juggling responsibilities and tasks.
    • Extra curricular use of Vialog (workshops, presentations, invitations, student interaction, etc.) would need to be explored further.
    • Change Agents are needed to champion the tool at any given HE institution.
  • Summary of key learnings in edTech space
    • Early implications are that Vialog could enhance student engagement as it clearly showed the potential of increased engagement with learning material if it is interactive, especially in asynchronous environments.
    • Dedicated features are identified for the higher education context. Enabling automated transcripts in a way to support further searchability of the content is subject to future R&D.
    • Due to the range of challenges they are facing, universities seem slower in adapting new technologies. Roehampton considers University wide adaptations for tools that are either replacing something they don't keep or supplementing something they've got.
    • Roehampton's current focus is primarily on developments advancing the student experience, furthering graduate employability or contributing to financial stability of the university.

Roehampton Climate Network: a public Vialog discussion

Appendix

Get a step-by-step guide to using Vialog on Moodle →

Read more about how Vialog enhances education →

Learn about how Vialog stands up for the environment →

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