Karin E. Jaffe, Anthropology

Microlecture Summary Report

I created five different types of microlectures during Spring 2015:

  1. Illustrating how to use the ‘What-if Report’ to determine eligibility to declare Human Development
  2. Illustrating how to use an on-line GPA calculator to determine your cumulative GPA
  3. Data analysis tools for SSU Primate Ethology Research Lab members:
    1. Saving Excel files
    2. Creating spreadsheets
    3. Deleting rows & columns
    4. Sorting data
    5. Using find & replace
    6. Inserting rows & columns
    7. Calculating total duration
    8. Calculating frequency
    9. Calculating average duration
    10. Creating summary data sheets
  4. An introduction to Anthropology 300 Moodle site (Fall 2014—for QOLT)
  5. A lecture on natural selection for Anthropology 318 (August 2015)

Creating Microlectures

After I overcame my initial discomfort seeing and hearing myself on the computer, I found it exceptionally easy to use Camtasia to create and edit videos, especially after an hour-long tutorial by Tim Hensel.

Camtasia Recorder simply requires that you: 1) drag the outline of the recording area to cover only what you want to record on your computer screen (e.g., a spreadsheet, a website, etc.), 2) decide whether you want to use the webcam in addition to the audio, and 3) check the volume on your computer. Personally, I liked using the webcam to record a headshot of me speaking during the video only for the introductory segment. I found it difficult to concentrate on the speaking portion of the video while also worrying about the webcam. The headshot video could also get in the way of the main portion of the video (e.g., a tutorial of Excel). I found that setting the recording volume on Camtasia Recorder at mid-level to be the best option. Increasing the microphone volume much higher during recording resulted (in my experience) in an audio track that picked up many extraneous sounds. Recording a mid-level allows the viewer to increase the volume of the video to their desired level. In addition, although you can record a single video on multiple computers (e.g., start recording on one, take a break and finish the video on another one)—in my experience, this did not work well—the audio sounded completely different and it was distracting. It was easy to tell when I switched computers. I recommend finishing the recording on one computer (even if you take a break). Editing the video can be done on multiple computers without a problem.

Editing videos using Camtasia Studio was fun and easy. In addition to videos you record in Camtasia Recorder, you can add call-outs and transitions from inside the software, and you can even add photos to insert into your video. Editing (i.e., cutting out) audio takes some practice and patience, but it is easier if you ‘zoom in’ on the tracks to see exactly where to cut. The green screen in the Faculty Center is a great resource, and I used it to create a brief introduction to my Anthropology 300 Moodle site, but it does require an added level of preparation and planning since you must make an appointment to use the equipment, which also requires help from another person (e.g., Tim Hensel).

Personal Feedback

I loved learning how to use Camtasia to create microlectures! I can see a lot of uses for this technology—both by me (in teaching, advising) and by my students. I can imagine making ‘Create a Microlecture’ assignment in multiple classes—as a way to get students to complete short group assignments, perhaps to explain a difficult concept. Two of my microlectures—Using the What-if Report and Using an On-line GPA Calculator—were created as advising tools rather than classroom tools. I am currently the interim Human Development (HD) Coordinator. The HD major is impacted, and I wanted to create videos to help prospective majors determine for themselves whether (and when) they meet the prerequisites for declaring the HD major. I posted these videos on the HD website (http://www.sonoma.edu/humandevelopment/admissions/) on April 1, and since then, the time I have spent in my office hours or via email explaining to students how to check their eligibility to declare HD has been cut by 85-90% because I can now say (or write): Go to http://www.sonoma.edu/humandevelopment/admissions/ and follow the instructions on the videos. On April 3, two days after I posted the videos, the first prospective major came to my office hours, ‘What-if Report’ in hand. It took me less than two minutes to determine that he had met the prerequisites and add him to the major. Before these videos were posted, it would take me at least five times that long to look the student up in MySSU and see if they prerequisites had been met.

Student Feedback

I did not teach classes during Spring 2015 due to my dual roles as Anthropology Department Chair and Human Development Coordinator. However, I created numerous microlectures to help the students in my research lab use Excel to analyze and graph their data. I posted 10 of these microlectures in my microlecture Google Docs file. Although only six students used these microlectures, the response (via a Moodle survey) was very positive. Four of the six students chose to provide comments on the videos:

“These were an awesome idea. So much more helpful than if you just wrote them down. Use them for you classes; your students will love you for it.”

“Overall, I found these to be helpful compared to a written version. It is clearer to actually see how things should look through the process, as well as having the audio to explain why to do things.”

“I thought they were great!!! I am gonna save them forever cause I know these will come in handy!”

“Of all the instruction I have received in my academic career, by far these videos are the most clear, concise, and helpful.”

Overall, the students felt the data analysis tutorial were helpful, clear, and easy to follow:

Ithought the data analysis tutorials were Redundant (100% disagreed).  A waste of time (100% disagreed) Helpful in explaining how to graph data. helpful in explaining how to organize data, Educational, Clear, Easy to follow (totally agree)  Helpful in explaining how to use Excel (80% totally agree)

They also thought that videos helped them learn how to use various aspects of Excel:

I thought the data analysis tutorials clearly explained how to:  Create spreadsheets, Insert rows and/or columns, use "Find and Replace, Sort rows,Copy spreadheets in a workbook, Create formulas (e.g. to determine average) Use Paste Value instead of Paste  (100% agree).  Format Cells, Use short-cut at 80% totally agree.  Change the width of columns to fit content 80% agree and 20% sort or agree.

And how to use Excel to organize, analyze and graph data:

The students felt strongly that the data analysis videos were helpful and educational:

Answers to yes/now questions.  I learned something about Excel from the data analysis tutorials that I did not know before. 100% yes.  I could have easily complete the analyses without the tutorials 100% no.  I thought the data analysis tutorual videos were helpful.  100% yes


This was a great experience! I can see using microelctures in a variety of ways (teaching,advising) for the rest of my career. The students seem to appreciate them as much as I do, and although they do take some time to create, the payoff can be tremendous. I definitely think that this project should be offered again through the Faculty Center.