Teacher: Lars Klingenberg

Lars has been in many of the corners of Absalon, he has done screencasting, quizzes and different kind of videos. To take one of his experiences, we have dived into his latest course, where he has asked the students to do a video of their own study proces. They have a few subjects to cover, like the group work process, the creative process and the work in laboratory, but the genre and when to make it is free.

What was your motivation?

You can tell, that Lars is excited, when he describes a new method or tool he has found and wants to explore. It always has to add some kind of value in terms of learning to him and to his students. This is also the case with his recent idea of asking the students to make their own video of their study process in an experimental course.

“There are several purposes with the activity. The students reflect on their own study process and learn from it. And they have a visual product, they can come back to and watch for later use.”

Lars has, however, also build in some hidden learning outcome in this activity. “I believe it is important that students learn to be creative. Almost everything in their curriculum is fixed and described as fixed intended learning outcomes with very little time and possibility to think creatively. Moreover, I think it is important to facilitate both group work and their learning process by both helping them and shaking them. I am helping by introducing an activity that hopefully is funny, social, and something they can ‘fall back on’ when report writing is getting boring or they momentarily get stuck. Then they can work on the video and ‘charge the batteries’ in this way. Also, it is a way to shake them by giving them an activity that they are usually not introduced to at the university.”

The students were sceptical about the task in the beginning – even frustrated. But that is intentional, Lars reflects. “Frustration is a good thing – as long as you help the students to understand that frustration can be used as fuel for learning. I really believe in harnessing the energy that comes from frustration and curiosity into learning”.

How did you get started?

Lars is curious by nature and is always trying to implement new and meaningful methods into his teaching as a way of facilitating the learning process.

“I have worked with small videos on online courses before, but why limit this tool to online courses? Also, I have always been more visual in my own approach to learning, and I reckoned that I was probably not the only one who learned better from ‘seeing’ and ‘doing’ than just ‘reading’. Initially, I wanted to make the students produce tutorial videos on how to operate equipment. But I could not see the point in it beyond the first tutorial. Once a tutorial was made there was no point in doing it again.”
Lars wanted to find another way that also met the intended learning outcome he described above about creativity, facilitating learning, documenting the process, plant some obstacles, and having an actual product at the end. “And that was how I a came up with this idea about the student produced process videos.”

How did it go?

For some students it was a technical challenge, for others it gave them an advantage in the group, where they could contribute with something else which was also the intention. Lars started the course by acknowledging that everybody have different competencies, and that they should use this in the groups to their advantage.

As Lars expected, some students were very happy about it, and some thought it took too much of their time. “Of course there were different approaches to this. This was also reflected in the products. Some videos were short and in the category ‘this needs to be done’ while others were very well produced and had a story and clearly had been a lot of fun to produce. At the end all students produced videos at a quite good standard, and most of the students actually had fun making them and were proud to show them.

What was the outcome for you - and the students?

Confusion and frustration is part of the learning process, so that is not an issue to Lars. Actually he finds it a success, if the students make errors and gets frustrated along the way. “But they have to experience that they are improving and that mistakes are pivotal for their learning process”, he continues.

The physical outcome for the students has been a visual product, they can revisit later in their studies. “I am quite sure, though, that at least some of the students actually learned a lot and gained some valuable experiences from this in relation to the hidden outcomes. And finally, they had to present the videos to the other groups at a plenum-based exam. Some students actually said, that it helped them to relax and we had some good laughs at the exam!”

To Lars it has been a good experience. It is evident from talking to him that he always enjoys to see his students get involved in the learning process and grow as students academically. “Especially, when they face obstacles and still manages to stay on target”, Lars adds. “Giving them the opportunity to be creative and work with different media, to tackle confusion, to deal with obstacles as well as identify and use group competencies, are vital elements of becoming potential researchers or work in the industry”.

How much time did you spend on it?

“Next to nothing – the students did the work”, Lars says and smiles. “Is there any better approach than to let the students work after you have provided a framework?”