Streaming Video Resources for Introductory Chemistry

John I. Gelder, Department of Chemistry, Oklahoma State University

Howard Hughes Faculty Initiative Program

April, 20, 2001

Link to the streaming video talk.

Original Proposed Project:

The focus of this proposal was to make available video-based materials of class lectures that will allow a Video-On-Demand environment for students enrolled in CHEM 1314/1515 during the Fall 2000/Spring 2001 semesters. Each lecture during the Fall 2000 and Spring 2001 semester will be taped using a Canon GL1 miniDV Digital Camcorder. Each lecture will then be captured to a hard drive using FireWire technology. Using FireWire eliminates the need for video capture hardware on the computer. Apple’s software Final Cut Pro, or Adobe Premire 5.1c can be used to capture and edit the uncompressed video. The uncompressed video will then be compressed for QuickTime streaming using Apple’s QuickTime Pro software.

Each lecture during the semester will be available by the end of the day in a QuickTime streaming format. MacroMedia Flash will be used on a subset of the total number of lectures to create additional interactivity.

Current Project Status

During the Fall 2000 and to date in the Spring 2001 semester I have captured every class lecture and every HelpSession held in CHEM 1314 (Fall 2000) and CHEM 1515 (Spring 2001). These digital video lectures can be accessed at the following addresses;

CHEM 1314 Lectures (Flash interactivity)

CHEM 1314 Lecture Notes example

CHEM 1314 Help Sessions (scroll to Problem Set #9)

CHEM 1515 Lectures

All of the lectures and HelpSessions were captured using the Canon GL1 digital camera. They were captured to a G4 (450 MHz) Macintosh computer using Firewire connection to a FireWire hard drive. This digital file, which generally consisted of between 8 and 11 gigabytes of uncompressed data, was compressed using Final Cut Pro. The compression setting used the Sorenson Video Compression algorithm, compressed at the highest quality, at 15 frames per second with a key frame every 15 frames. The window size for the video was set at 320 pixels by 240 pixels. The audio compression was a Qualcomm compression. The video was `Hinted' so the video could be streamed and the Hinted file was optimized for streaming. With these setting the typical 9 gigabyte uncompressed 640 x 480 file was compressed to between 500 and 800 megabytes. So a significant saving was obtained. It was interesting that if the compressed, Hinted' QuickTime file was opened using the QuickTime Player it was possible to double the size of the 320 x 240 file with only minor loss of quality of the video.

It required approximately 60 minutes to set-up and capture the videotaped lecture to the FireWire hard drive. It then required approximately 3 hours to compressed the digital video file. The file was then transferred to Macintosh Streaming QuickTime Server. The QT Streaming Server is a Macintosh G4 (500 MHz) computer purchased with HHFI grant funds. This computer started with 512 MB RAM and 54 gigabytes of hard drive storage. By the end of the Fall semester an additional 256 MB of RAM had been purchased and an additional 75 gigabytes of hard drive storage had been added. By the middle of the Spring 2001 an additional 75 gigabyte HD was purchased. So presently the G4 Streaming QuickTime Video Server has 768 MB of RAM and 186 gigabytes of hard drive storage. 75 gigabytes are used to serve the streaming QT video. The remaining 111 gigabyte are backup storage.

Table of Lecture and HelpSession Usage

Class

Access

Class

Access

Class

Access

Class

Access

CHEM

1314

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8/23

3

8/25

68

8/28

57

8/30

43

9/1

50

9/4

No class

9/6

39

9/8

447

9/11

66

9/13

276

9/15

277

9/18

136

9/20

293

9/22

538

9/25

4

9/27

235

9/29

No class

10/2

No class

10/4

47

10/6

154

10/9

108

10/11

308

10/13

179

10/16

123

10/18

149

10/20

249

10/23

24

10/25

497

10/27

92

10/30

42

11/1

35

11/3

175

11/6

251

11/8

122

11/10

227

11/13

114

11/15

42

11/17

57

11/20

41

11/22

58

11/24

No class

11/27

110

11/29

170

12/1

No Class

12/4

No class

12/6

37

12/8

23

 

 

 

 

CHEM

1314

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HS8/30

43

HS9/6

136

HS9/11

15+43

HS9/20

92+118

HS9/25

200

HS10/4

198

HS10/11

383

HS10/15

135+56

HS10/23

305

HS10/30

527

HS11/6

906

HS11/12

259

HS11/13

474+13

HS11/27

693+144

HS12/9

230+158

HS12/9

58

CHEM

1515

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1/15

No class

1/17

103

1/19

35

1/22

24

1/24

52

1/26

48

1/29

60

1/31

38

2/2

30

2/5

26

2/7

18

2/9

61

2/12

26

2/14

23

2/16

24

2/19

33

2/21

7

2/23

?

2/26

11

2/28

17

3/2

No class

3/5

17

3/7

12

3/9

32

3/12

35

3/14

6

3/16

15

3/19

No class

3/21

No class

3/23

No class

3/26

15

3/28

?

3/30

NA

4/2

NA

4/4

NA

4/6

NA

4/9

NA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHEM

1515

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HS1/22

61+20

HS2/1

23

HS2/6

24

HS2/13

212

HS2/19

146

HS2/28

5

HS3/6

30

HS3/12

63

HS3/28

26

HS4/4

49

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Table above lists the access to the video lectures and Help Sessions for CHEM 1314 and CHEM 1515 during Fall 2000 (CHEM 1314) and so far in Spring 2001 (CHEM 1515). The enrollment for CHEM 1314 in the two sections I taught was approximately 500 students. The enrollment in CHEM 1515 is approximately 140 students. Access to lectures varied from less than 10 students to as high as 500. The average usage was 145 students per lecture. Now understand it is difficult to associate every access to a single student as I will describe later for the Help Session video.

I trained a group of Honors students to use Flash 4.0 so that a level of interactivity to the CHEM 1314 video lectures could be added. It is not the best use of the video to just place the compressed video on the server. When that is done there is a 48 minute lecture and students have to listen to all of the lecture. They do not know what concepts I might have covered, where I did problem solving or answer key questions. By training the Honors students to use Flash I was able to take a subset of the lectures and add a level of interactivity. A sample lecture is Friday, November 3, 2000 (http://intro.chem.okstate.edu/1314F00/movies/ Lec11300flash.mov). The Flash interactivity created a window containing a collection of buttons acting as controls to allow students to jump to particular points in the video. When the mouse rolls over the button information appears in a particular location in the window with a brief description of what is discussed at that particular point in the lecture. If a problem was being solved the mouse over would show the problem being solved. This way a student could get to a particular point, or problem work in the lecture without having to sit through the complete lecture to get a few points clarified. It usually required about 3 hours of time to create the Flash interactivity.

The Help Sessions were handled a little differently. Instead of creating Flash interactivity, I would generate a series of clips from the Help Session and link those clips on the class web site. The links were embedded in a list of problems from the problem set assigned to the student so if a student was having difficulty with a particular problem, they could find the clip where I solved a problem similar to the problem on the problem set. So a particular Help Session might be separated into 6 to 10 different clips. That is why some Help Sessions had such high access rates. The same student would access different clips from the same QT video. Generating the clips usually required about 2 hours of additional work after capture and compression.

In general the students were having some difficulty accessing the videos. While the campus computer laboratory's played QuickTime movies, students had to bring their own head set to listen to the audio. The movies require too large a bandwidth to play off campus using a 56K modem. The computers in the library do not have the QT player, so students could not access the video unless they took the time to download the player and install it when they wanted to view the video. Despite these problems the video received a reasonable use. Students on their evaluation were generally positive about the video, or remarked they could not access the video, for reasons described above. I did not see an unusual drop in attendance different from the normal trends I've experienced over the years.

There were numerous occasions when the digital video was a lifesaver for students. Students who were ill for a week or longer, could not get to class due to weather, or were committed to a University event that prevented them from attending class. I had students who wanted to review for placement exams, or to see whether they were ready to start CHEM 1314.

In the Spring 2001 semester I have one-third of the students that I had in CHEM 1314. I hired one of the Honors students from CHEM 1314 who had a good grasp of Flash to work on the interactivity for the lecture videos. So this semester all of the videos will have interactivity. I have another group of Honors students would will also do some of the interactivity as part of their projects for Honors credit.

While not part of the original proposal I ended up assisting a faculty member in Zoology, Dr. Donald French, in the Fall and Spring semester. In the Fall semester Don borrowed the Canon GL1 to capture the video of his lectures, and then I would capture the video to the FireWire hard drive and compress it. Then I linked the digital video files to the QT Streaming Server. Don is teaching the same course this semester so he is using the video he captured last semester, this semester.

Overall this has been an excellent project. During this academic year I estimate I devote between 10 and 20% of my day working on the streaming video materials for my classes. That is a significant investment, but a worthwhile one as part of my effort to determine the success of these materials. At the end of the Spring 2001 semester I will have a complete two-semester introductory chemistry course on video. Any chemistry student from around the world can log on to my Chemistry Web Site and access these videos. It is interesting that MIT recently announced a project that will provide anyone access to digital video lectures of classes offered at MIT free of charge to anyone who wished to see the lectures. Their belief is that it will be a great attraction for students who have not made up their minds where they are going to go to college.

 

I want to thank the Howard Hughes Faculty Initiative Program at Oklahoma State University and the Department of Biohemistry for their support.