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3 Super Functions Of Echo360’s New Active Learning Platform – What you need to know

From Session 2 2017, Echo360’s upgraded software, Active Learning Platform (ALP), will be available in all units. Over the next few months, the faculties and the Learning Innovation Hub will be running a number of workshops, posts and events to support the adoption of this new software by the teaching community (further details at bottom of article).

“It is a pedagogical tool, not just a classroom recorder.  Instructors love it because they can track student questions and answers. Students are engaging us through the platform in the way we want them to”  Dr. Kem Rogers, University of Western Ontario.

“In using the Echo360’s new Active Learning Platform, do I have to prepare differently for class, do anything differently or is it business as usual? ” Well, yes and no.

‘Lectures’* will still be automatically recorded as usual and be available for students to watch at any time. However there are a few new features that have the capacity to enhance student engagement, make classes more active and participatory, and give the teacher better insights into how their subject matter content is being received by the class.

Today’s digital natives are used to consuming short snippets of information throughout their days—usually video and on their mobile device.  Lecturers don’t need to dramatically alter their teaching style to adapt to students’ changing engagement needs but they should be mindful, if they are delivering a lecture in a lecture theatre, that there will also be a digital audience watching either the live stream or the lecture recording. There are small adjustments teachers can make to ensure that students across the different delivery platforms are engaged. Adoption of these technologies doesn’t signal a decline in the importance of face to face interaction, there is always going to be a need for both. Macquarie’s strategic Learning & Teaching vision supports giving students flexible choices in how they access their learning.

  1. Live Streaming 

Echo360’s ALP allows for live streaming of lectures. Live streaming pilots have been run in 15 units across Session 2 2016 and Session 1 2017. Live streaming can be particularly useful for those students who are unable to make it to campus for numerous reasons, but would like to participate in the lecture in real time. ALP offers numerous participatory, interactive features that expressly compliment the live stream experience (outlined below). Results in the pilot show that if a teacher expressly asked their students to participate in an interactive activity, live streaming attendance dramatically increased.

In a survey conducted across 5 Psychology units that offered the pilot

  • 95% of respondents agreed it’s easy to access.
  • 80% of respondents agreed it’s enjoyable.
  • 78% of respondents would recommend the live streaming learning experience.
  • 82% of respondents want it in more units.

Lectures will not be automatically live streamed, even though the capacity is there for each unit. If you are a convenor and would like to live stream the lectures in your unit, you need to Opt-In. Submit a One Help Ticket (Request Something>Learning and Teaching Services>Echo360 Lecture Recordings>Opt-in for Live Stream and state unit number), or through AVTS using this form.

Please note, some lecture spaces across campus are also equipped with cameras, which can record the image of the teacher delivering the lecture and students can watch a split screen of the camera view and presentation view. Visit the rooms and facilities guide and if your lecture room has the letters SCV beside it, a ceiling mounted camera can be switched on. If you would like to activate the camera view, please put in a request in the same manner as the Opt-In request above. Students report they are more engaged in the live stream or recording if they are able to see an image of the teacher, rather than just hearing their voice or seeing the presentation slides.

2. Interactive features

ALP has numerous in-built participatory and interactive features which can be utilised for a more immersive, engaging and connected lecture experience. Tools like ‘clickers’ have been used for many years, to receive immediate feedback on students’ understanding of the subject matter being delivered. Through ALP, teachers can set up polls, quizzes, multiple choice questions and image identification and receive real-time feedback on how the content is being understood.

In ALP, students can also take notes next to certain slides, participate in discussion forums and flag content they find confusing.

3. Analytics

ALP comes with an in-built Analytics dashboard that shows:

  • When students join the live stream or presentation and at which point in the presentation they leave, pause or rewatch certain parts of the recordings.
  • Which slides students bookmarked and took notes on (revealing to the teacher which slides students were prioritising and paying most attention to).
  • Which slides students found most confusing.

ALP still includes Personal/Desktop Capture, automated lecture capture and playback recordings, so most of these functions will operate in a similar way to the previous Echo360 iteration.

Convenors will need to change the Echo36o block in iLearn to the Active Learning Platform block. If you have not yet done so, click here for instructions.

You don’t have to change the way you teach, but you can easily add new interactive features into your presentations to increase engagement.

The GPS of Education: Echo360 Active Learning Platform

As mentioned above, over the next few months, the faculties and the Learning Innovation Hub will be running a number of workshops, posts and events to support the adoption of this new software by the teaching community. Attendance at these events and workshops may count toward your FiLT and TIP progression and can be registered as formal professional development. Talk to your faculty learning and teaching teams if unsure about how to access and register professional development participation.

  • Learning and Teaching Exchange (LTX ) – Rethinking “Lectures” for the Digital Audience, June 15, 1:00pm- 2:00pm, Macquarie Theatre- Hear from teachers who have successfully utilised digital tools to create more engaging, flexible and dynamic ways to engage the student of today. We will be live streaming the event and showcasing ALP features. To access the live stream, click here, log into iLearn, click the Echo360 ALP block and you’ll be directed to the page. **
  • The Learning Innovation Hub will be running workshops throughout June and July on ALP, its functions and pedagogical best practice. Please stay tuned to the Teche Events page for workshop dates.
  • Beverley Miles, at the invitation of FSE, is running a “Making Lectures Interactive” workshop in July.
  • Echo360 has a very comprehensive Help Page, with separate sections for Instructors, Students and Administrators.
  • Some guidance and instruction notes are currently up on the Staff Portal iLearn page , however stay tuned for more updates.

* Lectures- Classes held wherever an Echo360 device is installed and scheduled to record. It’s up to you whether or not you deliver a ‘lecture’!

** Live streaming through ALP is only available through an MQID, and we prefer users to enter via iLearn.

For specific technical questions, please email ALP system administrator David Morgan.