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Exploring the role of video pod usage in online sessions

posted on 2024-05-28, 16:01 authored by Sinead Eccles, Karen Twiselton

Research has shown that students are more likely to be satisfied with their online courses when they get to ‘know’ their educator and are more likely to engage in online interactions when their educator is regularly present in the course (Abdous, 2011; Dunlap & Lowenthal, 2018). In the context of online learning, the Community of Inquiry model (Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 2000), proposes that successful online learning is composed of three components: cognitive, teaching and social presence. Cognitive presence refers to the creation of an environment where learning can take place that supports the development and growth of critical thinking. Teaching presence relates to the structure and processes surrounding the material which is to be learned, whilst social presence involves the creation of an environment where students feel able to express their views and explore differences, accepting confirmation and support hereby promoting student to student and student to educator relationships. Salmon’s (2004) five stage model of online learning suggests that online socialisation is an important aspect of online learning, supporting students to engage and take responsibility for their engagement in online communities.

Use of webcams is one way that students may be able to enhance their sense of control through increasing their social presence within online sessions. The evaluation of different engagement techniques for use within session delivery is therefore important when assessing how these may motivate engagement in the online learning environment. Salmon’s model will inform the current study and will explore the use of the video pod as an important tool in facilitating student’s online socialisation and enhancing the student experience. Understanding factors that impact on successful engagement including socialisation in the online environment underpins further steps in Salmon’s 5-stage model. Therefore, this project intends to focus on video pod use in seeking to support student engagement, enhancing their experience and helping to support successful academic outcomes. The function of the online classroom has changed over the last two decades. With Internet access and bandwidth improving around the world, it is not surprising that an increasing number of institutions as well as private teachers and learners are using video pod tools for language education (Cunningham, Fagersten, & Holmsten, 2010; Houge & Geier, 2009; Kozar, 2012, 2014; Kozar & Sweller, 2014). Despite this increasing adoption, many important questions about the impact of web camera usage, remain unanswered. While there have been studies of webcams in teacher-training courses and peer tele-tandem projects (Aaltonen et al., 2009; Codreanu & Celik, 2013; Cunningham, 2009; Develotte, Guichon, & Vincent, 2010; Griffiths & Graham, 2009; Jauregi & Banados, 2008), investigations of the pedagogical practices in teacher student dyads are still scarce. Specifically, it is unclear what attitudes experienced online teachers and learners hold towards webcams and how these attitudes impact decisions that teachers and learners make in regard to webcams. However, research has shown that how academics perceive the teaching context can influence their intentions and how they approach their teaching (Lindblom-Ylänne et al.2006; Norton et al.2005; Prosser et al.2003; Prosser and Trigwell1997; Ramsden et al.2007) and that this is significant for student learning (Gow and Kember1993; Trigwell, Prosser, and Waterhouse, 1999).

Based on this research, this proposal is for a two-stage project, aimed at mapping a period of change within the Open University (OU) where Associate Lecturers (ALs) are encouraged to make use of the video pod feature within online session delivery within undergraduate Psychology & Counselling (P&C) modules. From the investigators' initial review of video pod use in tutorials, it appears that there has been little to no uptake of video pod use within online P&C online sessions, despite a clear literature base which indicates how webcam use can contribute to group cohesion and social presence (Garrison, Anderson, and Archer, 2000; Liu, Gomez & Yen, 2009; Lowenthal & Snelson, 2017; Richardson, Maeda, Lv, & Caskurlu, 2017). This low uptake of video pod usage within online sessions is being addressed by an upcoming Teaching and Learning (T&L) intervention which will implement the use of new default layouts within the online teaching space provided in Adobe Connect. This new layout will include the use of the video pod, to encourage ALs in their use of this facility. Our project will complement the T&L project by providing a pre- post- measure of AL experiences and attitudes towards video pod use.

Phase 1 of the project seeks to provide a baseline measure of current practice and an indication of the reasons for AL lack of use of the video pod. In addition, the project seeks to provide a baseline measure of student’s experiences and attitudes to video pod usage in online sessions. Both of these will delivered in the form of a survey to all P&C AL’s and students registered for DE300 or DD310 who have had experience of the way that online sessions have been delivered at the Open University up until the current time. These surveys will be administered, prior to the roll-out of the new default pod structure within Adobe Connect.

The main research questions are as follows:

  • Do ALs use the video-pod in their online sessions?
  • If no, what is the source of reluctance among ALs to using the video pod?
  • How have ALs experienced the transition to video pod use?
  • How does the tutor view the use of the video pod in tutorials in terms of overall student experience and the student/tutor relationship?
  • What experiences have OU students had in terms of camera use by their tutors in an online session?
  • Do students think that camera usage in an online session influences their engagement
  • Would it be helpful for students if tutors enabled their camera during online sessions?
  • Do students think that camera usage influences the rapport that they have with a tutor?





  • Internal use only

Institutional priority category

  • Students Learning Experiences
  • Other


  • Student Academic Experience
  • Student Experience
  • Tuition

Subject discipline

  • Psychology and Counselling

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