Integrating Biology and Computer Science Through Educational and Entertaining Videos

Collection: 
Student-Generated Content
Author Information
Author(s): 
James E. Bidlack and William F. Stockwell
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
University of Central Oklahoma
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Educational and entertaining videos can be used in biology and computer science courses to motivate students and improve the learning experience. This effective practice includes use of student-produced biology and computer science videos to actively engage students in their own education.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

While some students may traditionally learn in a formal setting of chalk-and-talk lectures or PowerPoint presentations, these strategies may not always engage individuals more accustomed to entertaining and interactive learning. In mathematics and science, it is not always easy to find a way to engage students, although creative strategies targeted towards their own interests may motivate them to learn. It is proposed that the new generation of students who find animations, simulations, and videos more interesting than listening to a standard lecture in the classroom are likely to improve their learning experience through the use of educational videos.

This Effective Practice focuses on engaging students by asking them to produce their own videos to express what they have learned in biology, computer science, and mathematics. Students in biology and computer science classes were asked to work in groups of up to four to produce an educational and entertaining video that integrates biology and computer science.

With the availability and ease of producing videos through portable electronic devices, and the convenience of publishing videos on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/), this project was easily accomplished by students and readily viewable in the classroom.

The objectives for this project include:

1) engaging students in learning through participation in the classroom,

2) motivating students with a project they will enjoy,

3) educating students through interactive discussion of concepts in biology and computer science, and

4) determining if this project truly does, in the opinion of students, improve the learning experience.

Approximately 30 videos were produced by students in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, and Summer 2012 semesters and contributed towards no more than 5% of the course grade (exams were still used as the major determinant of the course grade). The projects submitted by students covered a wide spectrum of topics including bioinformatics, cell division, DNA sequencing, evolution, forensics, history of science, and quiz shows. A prize was awarded to students with the best video projects, which inspired more effort to be put into the production. Examples of some of the prize-winning videos can be found at:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5wL1aJ4MH8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16WHd7Lx20E

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epaC9kTlyUM

 

In general, students expressed enthusiasm about the project and seemed to have a good time. Attendance during the days that student-produced videos were shown increased remarkably. After showing videos in class and towards the end of the semester, students were asked to fill out a survey regarding their experience doing the project. In general, students reported that it motivated them to go to class, gave them something fun to do besides study, and improved their learning experience.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

Approximately 30 videos were produced by students in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, and Summer 2012 semesters and contributed towards no more than 5% of the course grade (exams were still used as the major determinant of the course grade). The projects submitted by students covered a wide spectrum of topics including bioinformatics, cell division, DNA sequencing, evolution, forensics, history of science, and quiz shows.

A prize was awarded to students with the best video projects, which inspired more effort to be put into the production.

In general, students expressed enthusiasm about the project and seemed to have a good time. Attendance during the days that student-produced videos were shown increased remarkably. After showing videos in class and towards the end of the semester, students were asked to fill out a survey regarding their experience doing the project. In general, students reported that it motivated them to go to class, gave them something fun to do besides study, and improved their learning experience.

Direct evidence of this Effective Practice can be found in some of the following student-generated videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5wL1aJ4MH8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16WHd7Lx20E

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epaC9kTlyUM

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

This effective practice improves the LEARNING EFFECTIVENESS by incorporating a different approach to presenting topics in biology and computer science. The use of educational and entertaining videos gets students actively engaged in their own education, and in doing so, also allows them to learn the material from a different perspective. The SCALE of this practice is flexible in that, small and large classroom sections can implement the project - students can work individually or in groups to produce the educational videos - and the evaluation of materials produced can be done inside or outside the classroom. The ACCESS to this learning technique is completely open to virtually anyone who has a computer and ability to browse the Internet to YouTube. FACULTY SATISFACTION is high because teaching is enriched at virtually no cost and, if implemented on a peer-review basis, provides instruction without a large time commitment, as long as those involved with the evaluation process are properly trained. One of the greatest benefits of this practice is with STUDENT SATISFACTION because those involved get excited about learning and feel a sense of pride about producing learning materials on their own.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

Equipment needed for this practice include video recording devices (typically a component of portable devices such as Android, BlackBerry, and iPhone) and a computer to download and/or view videos. And, more often than not, only a portable device is needed because many of these have the ability to download videos directly to YouTube.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

The cost of this practice is minimal, assuming that students have access to portable devices (Android, BlackBerry, iPhone) and a computer with projector, with Internet access, is available in the classroom.

References, supporting documents: 

Bidlack, Jim. 2012. The website for the course using this effective practice can be found at http://biology.uco.edu/bidlack/biology/default.htm and the description of the assignment can be found at http://biology.uco.edu/bidlack/biology/pdf/Special%20Project.pdf

Bidlack, Jim, and Jeff Bell. 2011. "Do Students Really Learn from Internet Videos?" A presentation at the 4th International Symposium Emerging Technologies for Online Learning in San Jose, California. The full presentation can be found at http://metabolism.net/bidlack/biomerlot2/default.htm

Other Comments: 

This is a really fun Effective Practice and it has rejuvinated our enthusiasm for the profession - especially for two old professors teaching in the College of Mathematics & Science (20+ years of teaching general biology for non-majors for Jim Bidlack and 30+ years of teaching computer science and mathematics for Bill Stockwell).

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Dr. Jim Bidlack
Email this contact: 
jbidlack@uco.edu
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Dr. Bill Stockwell
Email contact 2: 
drstockwell@gmail.com