About the Labcasting project

Labcast screen image

Labcast location map widget

Labcast multiple choice widget

In the labcasting project KMi has been developing the use of live interactive webcasts with the Science Faculty as a means of engaging students in practical science. Rather than pre-recording video assets for students to view individually, our live online events invite a cohort of students to participate in an interactive presentation. Using a variety of widgets displayed alongside the live video stream, students respond to questions raised by the presenter, who in turn adapts their presentation to take account of the students’ responses.

Interactive widgets

Some of the widgets we’ve been using include:

  • A location map: Used at the beginning of a labcast for participants to indicate their location on a map, the widget indicates the number and geographic spread of the participants.
  • Instant message chat rooms: Participants can communicate with each other during a labcast through a set of chat rooms. The rooms are themed by topic (e.g. chemistry, physics, geology, etc.) or by function (e.g. technical assistance).
  • Polling balance: Participants are asked to choose one of two options in response to a closed question. A weighing balance illustrates the relative number of responses.
  • Multiple choice questions: Participants are set a question and asked to select one (or more) options, after making their selection a labeled bar chart illustrates the number of responses per option.
  • Wordles: The participants are asked to give up to three terms in response to a set question. After submitting their response, the widget shows a word cloud of the ten most popular terms.

As hundreds of students can be using the widgets at the same time, they constantly reflect the collated responses at any given point during the event. Thereby, the presenter and participants receive direct feedback on their actions. Within this project we’re seeking to evaluate the impact of actively engaging students in live events involving members of their module team.

Example labcasts

As a pilot trial, the following four labcasts were presented and evaluated with a cohort of students on the OU’s second level Practical Science module in 2014 (OU module presentation code S288-14B). Each live event was followed by an online forum discussion in the module’s virtual learning environment. A link to a recording was also made available for the students shortly after each event.

  • Labcast 1 – Introduction to the module
    Super conductivity demonstration (3rd Feb 2014)
    Live presentation (no interactive widgets)
  • Labcast 2 – First tutor marked assignment
    Radioactive half-life experiment (27th Mar 2014)
    Live presentation and first use of widgets
  • Labcast 3 – End of module project
    Exploring under water environments (26th & 27th Aug 2014)
  • Labcast 4 – Labcast evaluation feedback
    Student questionnaire feedback and results (23rd Oct 2014)

Project team

Project lead: Trevor Collins.
Presenter and Science Faculty Champion: Nick Braithwaite.
Web broadcasting: Ben Hawkridge and Chris Valentine.
Widget development: Kevin Quick and Jon Linney.
KMi Champion: Peter Scott.