Using a variety of content types (e.g., video, audio narration, readings, etc.) in a course helps increase student engagement. Course content can be curated from existing materials or produced using the professional production services at the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) or self-serve recording options.
Things to Consider Before Curating and Creating Content
Faculty are encouraged to imagine that they are curators of their student's learning experience. They should select the best resources available that students need to achieve success in the course. To do this, faculty should look for resources that are current, closely tied to the course learning objectives, accessible, and copyright allowed. Consider the following:
What is the purpose of the content in the student's learning experience?
How does it build on or contribute to other content in the course?
How is it tied to the assignments or assessments in the course?
Do students need very specific details?
Will visuals help them process the content?
Could a guest expert lend excitement to a topic?
Alignment with Learning Objectives
It is important to create a course environment in which the learning objectives of the course are supported. As faculty gather content, they should match that content to their corresponding learning objectives to ensure that all the objectives are covered in the course.
Relevance and Expertise
Once faculty have gathered and produced content for their course, they will want to provide some context for students about how to use the content, as well as how the materials are going to help students in achieving the goals of the course. This can usually be done with a few short sentences, but in other cases, faculty may want to add more explanation and/or connecting language. This can be via text that is posted on a lecture page or as a recorded introduction (audio or video) to the content.
“Educators and institutions alike have a legal responsibility to provide accessible platforms and materials. Additionally, accessible materials provide opportunities to ensure that all students are able to participate in and benefit from learning opportunities” (CAST, n.d.).
All content posted in Bloomberg School of Public Health courses should, at a minimum, meet the University’s accessibility guidelines. More information about creating and selecting accessible course materials is available on the UDL, JEDI, and Accessibility page.
Students benefit from diverse representation in course content because it gives them an opportunity to approach “problems and questions from different points of view in pursuit of knowledge, discovery, growth, innovation, and the exposure of falsehoods” using open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement (Heterodox Academy, n.d.). When selecting content, faculty should consider both marginalized representations and different ideological and theoretical viewpoints when presenting their course concepts and theories.
Course content should also follow all copyright and fair use laws for both ethical and legal reasons.
Types of Content
Faculty can incorporate many types of content into their CoursePlus course site.
Articles and Other Readings
A digital article is a great resource to add to the course Online Library. Well-written articles can take the place of a traditional textbook and allow faculty to focus on specific topics that are aligned with the course learning objectives. As a bonus, digital articles often contain links to other reference material that curious students can explore. If your course uses many readings, consider setting up eReserves for your course.
Case studies are an excellent way to demonstrate and explain a topic within a real-world scenario and allow students to practice their problem-solving and decision-making skills.
Charts, Graphs, and Infographics
Faculty can use charts, graphs, and infographics to show quantifiable data visually, with some added text to explain the concepts depicted. Faculty can work with a CTL medical illustrator to create custom visuals for their course. Contact your instructional designer to learn more.
Checklists are useful tools for students. They can be used by students to memorize a set of steps in a process or remember any tasks that must be completed.
Podcasts (Audio Recordings)
Podcasts are audio recordings that are usually hosted by an authority on a topic, like a radio show, and are publicly available for free. The podcast can feature a single speaker who is speaking directly to listeners, or a podcast can highlight multiple speakers in an interview, discussion, or debate on a given topic. Learn more on the Why & How of Using Podcasts in Education.
PowerPoint Slides with Audio Narration
Many faculty design a visual presentation in PowerPoint and then record audio narration that is synchronized with the slides. These traditional lectures are ideal for introducing topics and summarizing complex ideas or processes. Presentations should be segmented into 10-to-15-minute sections with active learning breaks in between, to maintain student engagement.
Faculty may want to demonstrate how to use a specific software program or application on their computer or mobile device. To do this, they can take a screenshot image or video of their device screen. A screen capture can be an effective tutorial for students to follow and model when paired with audio narration, or at least accompanying text.
Video is an effective way to communicate a message or subject and can supplement other content types. CTL has many professional video options available to faculty. See CTL’s recording options to learn more.
VoiceThread is an interactive presentation tool that all Johns Hopkins University students, faculty, and staff have access to. Video, audio only, and audio-narrated slides can be recorded and shared via VoiceThread. A unique aspect of this program is that viewers can add their own text, audio, and video comments to a recording, making this a great option for faculty who want their students to actively engage with the recording. For example, VoiceThread is commonly used for course welcome messages in which students add their own introductions. Contact your instructional designer for more information about how to incorporate VoiceThread into your teaching strategies.
A white paper is a report or guide that informs readers concisely about a complex issue or procedure and can help familiarize students with a specific issue or topic. Many white papers already exist and are publicly available.
YouTube is a free video publishing platform that allows anyone with a free YouTube account to upload videos on any subject or topic. Many organizations post collections of videos related to their subject area. For example, the Bloomberg School of Public Health has a YouTube channel that highlights current issues and advancements in public health, and this is not the only public health-related channel available on YouTube.
Faculty will most likely need to produce new content for their course in addition to curating existing content from other sources. CTL has professional video recording and audio recording options to meet the production needs of Bloomberg School faculty. Faculty may also choose to self-record some of their course content. See CTL’s self-recording options to learn more.
Contact an instructional designer to learn more about what types of content can be incorporated into your course.