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VITAL (Video Interactions for Teaching and Learning) Released by CCNMTL

Home > News & Updates > VITAL (Video Interactions for Teaching and Learning) Released by CCNMTL

March 14, 2003. CCNMTL and Herbert Ginsburg, professor of psychology and education, have created an interactive learning environment for education and psychology students. In spring 2003, this web-based application, Video Interactions for Teaching and Learning (VITAL), was first deployed in Professor Ginsburg's Development of Mathematical Thinking course at Teachers College.

The VITAL environment allows students to use a digital video library carefully chosen to reflect the educational goals of the course, to construct a series of weekly essays that foster understanding of the course concepts and that can be shared with other students who have completed the assignment. The video library includes over 50 interviews, observations and classroom lessons that Ginsburg has archived over the past twenty years. All students maintain a workspace containing their essays and edited video clips that help illustrate their observations and buttress their arguments. The videos are embedded as hyperlinks within the essays.

"Allowing students not only to view, but also to actively manipulate and comment on selected video clips in preparation for our classes has transformed my teaching and, I believe, my students' understanding of the course content," notes Ginsburg. "Developing the VITAL tool with CCNMTL has helped me to reflect on the educational goals of the course, and has resulted in an educational technology that allows me to teach my subject matter more effectively."

For many years, Ginsburg had successfully incorporated video in his courses through an assortment of VHS tapes that showed children engaged in "everyday mathematics," students grappling with mathematical problems and reflecting on their methods of solution, and teachers presenting mathematics instruction. VITAL now allows Ginsburg easy access to the video segments of interest. It also provides his students the opportunity to review the videos at will and to embed segments within essays so as to provide evidence for hypotheses and arguments.

Using a Design Research approach to develop VITAL required the documenting of decisions and hypotheses that led to the final design. In weekly meetings the CCNMTL project manager, David VanEsselstyn, Ginsburg and two teaching assistants brainstormed and discussed issues related to the course. Present at every meeting was a CCNMTL Design Research Fellow who captured goals, hypotheses, and ideas from each meeting.

After amassing an understanding of the educational issues, a technical framework for a system addressing the educational objectives was developed. As the framework became further defined, the team began developing the course syllabus and student assignments with VITAL specifically in mind.

The technical framework for VITAL includes an authentication system and a set of database tables to keep track of every student's effort, including maintaining markers to track student progress through the weekly assignments. The video library is stored on a media server, but all information related to the video excerpts used by the student is maintained with the student's profile. A simple essay editing and preview tool is also integrated into the system.

Three times during the semester, students were asked to evaluate key aspects of the VITAL system by responding to open-ended questionnaires. The data were analyzed in an attempt to identify successes and failures in the system as well as in the design process. Because Design Research endeavors to develop hypotheses and goals throughout the design process, the evaluation exercise allows the project team to tie results to ideas articulated in the project design. The results of the evaluation can then inform the design of similar educational technology projects.

Video Interactions for Teaching and Learning