University of Northwestern Health Sciences case study
At Northwestern Health Sciences University (NWHSU), academic excellence and innovation are at the center of our core values. Our faculty strive to create meaningful and engaging educational experiences for our learners. One way this is accomplished is through the continual experimentation with and utilization of educational technologies, to best engage our students as we support their learning. Research has shown that an essential factor to delivering quality education and educational experiences is through engagement. When students are engaged, they tend to improve their critical thinking skills (Gellin 2003; Kuh, Hu & Vesper 1997 Pike & Killian 2001; Shulman 2002), competency (Kuh, 1995) and grades (Astin, 1993; Tross, Harper Osher & Kneidinger 2000). In addition, increase in engagement is also associated with an increase in persistence (Bean 2005; Berger & Milem 1999).
Unfortunately, student engagement is difficult to create. Thus, one of the most important and daunting tasks that many of our instructors and faculty face is to figure out a way to engage students, in a meaningful way, with the course materials. Fortunately, we have some guidance from the literature. For instance, Mayer (2001) informed us that a well-designed multimedia (e.g., videos) can increase engagement. A well-designed video, in our perspective, is one that can both entertain and educate. The primary challenge of creating video content to support student learning, is aligning faculty resources to support the development of multimedia tools and experiences in their classroom.
Squigl allows us to address this challenge. With Squigl, we are able to create entertaining aminated videos that both engages our students and at the same time pass along essential knowledge. The platform is intuitive; allowing faculty members a straightforward and easy process to begin utilizing the platform. The video creation process takes less than 20 minutes (for a rough video for adjusting), so it does not take a lot of time. Even counting adjustment time, we are able to create a quality animated video in about an hour. This is a big improvement as we normally spent upward to 1 hours per minutes of video creation. This is not counting the amount of time we need to dedicate to learning how to use other tools to create assets to go with the videos.
With Squigl, we are able to improve students’ engagement. We gauged engagement via the following metrics:
1. Students feedback indicated a strong preference for viewing the Squigl content rather than reading the case study.
2. Students are more curious about the case study. That is, they asked more questions about the case study.
3. Discussions about the case study were more robust. For instance, students used more emotional words when discussing the case study.
As a health sciences university, the utilization of case studies is an important component of many of our courses, both clinical and didactic. For example, in Medical Law & Ethics, the case study was utilized to analyze real world ethical dilemmas in health care. Traditionally, case studies are introduced to students via a text format. Students were given a few pages of text containing information about a case study. Students were asked to read through the case study and share their thoughts with their classmates. While this is an okay approach to introduce a case study, it is not the most effective approach. The reasons are (1) the case studies could be long, so students might not read through the case study in its entirety, and (2) presenting the case study via text only engages one mode of learning -- reading.
With that said, we could certainly be creative and present the case studies in a slightly different way that can increase the probability that students read through the case studies and engages more learning modalities. For instance, placing students in small groups, asking one member of the group to read the case study to the rest of the group, and have the rest of the members follow along in silence can increase the chances that students get through the case study, and can potentially engages both reading and auditory modes of learning. A similar method is to have the instructor read the case study to the class. This method also ensures students receive the case studies in its entirety and engages the auditory and reading modes of learning. One challenge of using such methods, however, is that it takes away class time; which is a valuable and limited resource.
Thus, we are charged with the daunting task of finding the best way to present a case study in a way that: (1) engages the students (by engaging multiple learning modalities), (2) increase the probability that they received the case study in its entirety, and (3) preserve class time. We find that one of the best ways to do so is via an animated video. Introducing a case study via an animated video have the potential to engages the students by engaging multiple learning modalities (e.g., the visual, auditory, and reading modes of learning). An engaging video also increase the probability that students will view the whole video (and thus get the case study in its entirety). Finally, we could ask our students to review the video head of class so that class time could be preserved.
The challenge with this method is time and learning curve. It takes many hours to create an animated video and the learning curve to some of the leading animated platform can be high. Given that instructors have a heavy workload and our limited resources (in term of technology and supporting staff), this, unfortunately, is not a sustainable approach.
How Product Helped
Squigl is a novel tool with an innovative approach to animated video creation. Instead of providing users with a blank canvas to stumble around until they produce something that resembles their vision (like some of the leading video platforms and software), Squigl guides users through the video creation process. The platform does this by allowing users to paste a script of the presentation that they want to create a video for and generate a rough video for them to customize. This approach not only reduces confusion (and thus lower the learning curve) but also saves users time since users will have a starting video to work with.
In our case, Squigl allows us to tackle two of the biggest challenges that we face around animated video creation (i.e., time and learning curve). With Squigl, we are able to copy and paste the text of our case study into the platform, have the platform generate a rough draft of an aminated video, and edit the video before publishing. This process greatly reduces the amount of time it takes for us to create an animated video (from a few hours to a little over an hour).
Recently, Squigl added a feature that enable us to select our own keywords using an easy step-by-step walkthrough, select the appropriate animation associated with the keyword, generate a draft video, and edit the video before publication. This feature allows us more control over the video creation process and further reduce the amount of time it takes for us to create a video.
The process is intuitive, and with the frequent improvements made to the platform, instructors are able to easily use the software after spending a short time exploring the platform. Once instructors have an idea of how the platform work, they could start generating videos fairly quickly.
Results, Return on Investment and Future Plans
Our goal is to deliver quality education. One way to do so is to find ways to engage students with the course materials. With Squigl we are able to accomplish our goal. Squigl allow us to present our case study in a way that:
1. Reduce the amount of complaining that student have towards reading the case study.
2. Engage student’s curiosity – they asked more questions about the case study.
3. Generate a more robust group discussion.
Astin, A.W. (1993) What Matters in College? Four Critical Years Revisited. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. doi: 10.2307/1176821.
Bean, J.P. (2005) Nine Themes of College Student Retention. In: Seidman, A. (ed.) College Student Retention: Formula for Student Success. Washington DC: ACE & Praeger, pp. 215–244.
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Gellin, A. (2003) The Effect of Undergraduate Student Involvement on Critical Thinking: A Meta-Analysis of the Literature, 1991–2000. Journal of College Student Development. 44 (6), pp. 746–762. doi: 10.1353/csd.2003.0066
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Shulman, L.S. (2002). Making Differences: A Table of Learning. Change. 34 (6), pp. 36–44. doi: 10.1080/00091380209605567
Tross, S.A., Harper, J.P., Osherr, L.W. and Kneidinger, L.M. (2000). Not Just the Usual Cast of Characteristics: Using Personality to Predict College Performance and Retention. Journal of College Student Development. 41 (3), pp. 325–336.