Temple Times Online Edition
    SEPTEMBER 30, 2004
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New tool allows lectures to be posted online

Fox School student Joe Milicia, an Honors Program freshman in actuarial science, shows an Apreso Classroom capture on his laptop outside the classroom where the lecture is being given. Looking on are (from left) John DeAngelo, associate dean of information technology at The Fox School; David Feeney, Fox’s director of digital education; and Marco Malandra, assistant professor of accounting at Fox.

Imagine replaying a classroom lecture until you’ve grasped a difficult point or until you’ve finished reviewing for an exam. Fox School of Business and Management students participating in the pilot program of Anystream’s new Apreso Classroom are able to do just that, playing “classroom captures” via the Internet over and over again within seconds of their in-class recording.

Apreso Classroom is a new breed of content capture systems that allow faculty who use “smart” rooms to record audio, plus anything displayed on the classroom computer, and post these class captures on the Internet for later replay.

Tim O’Rourke, vice president for computer and information services, committed equipment and personnel to the pilot program, noting, “Real media, including video streaming, is the next step in the evolution of Web-based classroom teaching tools.”

The Apreso Classroom pilot program is centered at Fox, where technology innovation is a given. John DeAngelo, the first associate dean at the University exclusively dedicated to technology, and David Feeney, director of digital education at Fox, are pushing the envelope to enhance teaching, learning and research through technology.

“By using tools that people use every day, we are making learning more efficient,” DeAngelo said. “Faculty are used to coming into class and presenting their knowledge and experiences to students … and all of that accumulated knowledge is lost when class is over. Now with Apreso Classroom, students and teachers can play it again.”

Temple’s Apreso Classroom pilot began when Apreso for PowerPoint, an earlier Anystream product, caught the eye of Fox’s director of digital education, David Feeney, an activist educator. Feeney’s job is to bring technology directly to faculty, staff and students by integrating pedagogy, hands-on training and learning outcomes. He envisioned that Apreso for PowerPoint, initially introduced as a business product, could be used to capture thousands of hours of intellectual capital and make them available for rapid, on-demand review.

“Capturing the classroom transaction of education, what people pay for, is an asset,” said Feeney, whose interest in Apreso products prompted an Apreso for PowerPoint pilot at Temple in the summer of 2003. However, Apreso for PowerPoint, a laptop-installed “mobile solution,” limits class capture to the audio and visual components in PowerPoint. This summer, Temple took capture a step further by piloting Anystream’s new, custom-designed classroom capture system — Apreso Classroom.

Apreso Classroom is installed in “smart” classrooms that seamlessly incorporate technology, such as computers, VCRs, document cameras and audio, allowing the capture of anything viewed on classroom monitors. That means Apreso Classroom captures every visual aid, every keystroke, all the sound and every chart a professor presents in class. Feeney calls Apreso Classroom “instructional biofeedback.”

“The very best part of Apreso Classroom is that it is essentially ‘task free.’ Faculty and students can be oriented in under five minutes, then every class meeting can be successfully captured with no change in classroom routine,” Feeney said.

According to Anystream director Greg Letourneau, “Instructors simply walk into the classroom and teach. The system works silently in the background to capture the entire classroom experience as the normal instructional process unfolds.”

This summer, Temple became the site of the first educational pilot project for Apreso Classroom in the United States and Fox the only business school testing Apreso on such a wide scale. In the second summer session of 2004, more than 2,200 minutes of classroom content per week were captured in undergraduate, graduate and executive M.B.A. classes in subjects such as accounting, finance and business ethics.

And the use of Apreso Classroom is growing. Originally used by five Fox faculty members this past summer, Apreso Classroom is now used by 13 this fall. In addition, three other Apreso rooms — Tuttleman 105 and 209 and Anderson 22 — are located throughout the University, but the largest number of class captures occurs at Fox.

And faculty weren’t the only ones recording presentations this summer. The Fox School’s student professional organizations, administrators and students also recorded their presentations for use in online classes, as a substitute for an absent teacher, or as a way to preserve orientations for later playback.

After initial faculty concern about increased absenteeism and faculty misgiving about taping inhibiting teaching, faculty and student feedback about Apreso has been uniformly positive. Studies at Taiwan University and Georgia Tech have shown that the use of classroom capture solutions such as Apreso Classroom have had no impact on attendance, a conclusion that many Fox professors themselves reached during the pilot. And concerns about inhibiting freedom in teaching quickly disappeared as faculty realized they could go “off the record” at any point during class capture.

Accounting professor Marco Malandra said Apreso Classroom makes professors accountable down to their last word. “If you said you’re not going to put a question on the exam and then you forget and do, well, what you said is recorded,” he said.

Some faculty members, such as associate professor of human resource management John McClendon, an early adopter, disseminate Apreso presentations pre-lecture so class time can be used for discussion or to cover more material. Or alternatively, McClendon disseminates presentations post-lecture to reinforce important points.

Another potential Apreso benefit is the way it enables faculty to learn from one another. With this potential in mind, Fox School Dean Moshe Porat intends to use Apreso Classroom to help faculty create integrated coursework for Fox’s re-engineered M.B.A., which is now in the planning stages. At a recent Apreso Classroom presentation, Porat said, “At the end of the day, technology should be judged if it helps learning — that’s what we think it does, and it’s what we will measure over the next few years.”

Currently, The Fox School is surveying students and faculty about Apreso Classroom so its value can be assessed more formally. That feedback will not only help Temple, but Anystream as well. Anystream has used Temple feedback to refine its product. In October, the company will formally launch Apreso Classroom 1.0, and many of the features in the final product, such as the ability to pause/resume at any point during recording, came from Temple input. Other new features in the October release will include video capture and publishing.

Other innovative Fox information technology initiatives include Biz Tech Lab, the first server-centric lab in the world, the Business Honors Laptop Community (Honors students each receive a laptop for use during their first two years at Temple), the continual refinement of online classes and the use of technology in the executive M.B.A. program to provide continuous communication among students and with faculty.

- By Lisa Meritz

Benefits of Apreso Classroom

For students

Enhances learning by accommodating different learning styles. Students can:
• Review lectures, particularly points they may initially have had trouble grasping. Because audio and visuals are synchronized, students can speed up or slow down lectures. (This is particularly useful for students for whom English is a second language.)
• Catch up on missed lectures.
• Study for exams.

For faculty
Enhances teaching. Faculty can:
• Improve classroom productivity by giving students lectures to review pre-class, allowing more time for discussion.
• Improve productivity of office hours because students can review lecture content for clarity online, before — or rather than — meeting with a professor.
• Disseminate lectures post-class to reinforce important points.
• Use it to help practice and prepare lectures.
• Continuously improve course material by watching their own lectures.
• Generate a lecture portfolio.
• Coordinate class material with other professors’ lectures.
• Use it to train junior faculty.
• Improve student satisfaction.

For University administration
Facilitates administration. Administrators can:
• Provide flexible online options to expand student access to courses.
• Deliver increased value to part-time, working or online students.
• Combat facilities shortages by offering course components online.
• Leverage “smart” classroom technology investments.
• Drive increased professor use of University course management systems and “smart room” equipment.