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Belly Up to the Bar…Virtually!

The process of filming an online course

By Russ Lichterman
Russ Lichterman at Wilmington University joins us today to share some of his experiences in creating an online course that went beyond the classroom. 

Creating an online course
Filming at Dogfish Head Brewery

When our face-to-face students at Wilmington University were offered the chance to sign up for a class about beer it was a hardly a shock when seats filled up immediately.  CUL 303:  The Craft of Beer debuted in 2015 with a Dogfish Head employee helming the course as an adjunct instructor. It was an immediate success.
Dogfish Head Off-Centered Experience Ambassador Matt Barth brings his extensive knowledge of brewing and his passion for all things beer into the classroom. But at WilmU we strive to include our online students whenever possible!  On the Multimedia team, as part of Educational Technology and Online Learning, we work closely with the department chairs, faculty, and instructional designers to bring video and multimedia content to courses.  Kaltura has been hugely successful in bringing new depth to our online offerings, with over 53,000 videos currently in our library.
Last year, the College of Arts and Sciences asked us to help turn CUL 303 into a course that could be offered online, while still including the dynamic personality of the instructor.  Clearly this project would require more than simple lecture-capture videos. So we wanted to stretch our abilities as far as we could to make this course a success for students at a distance.  The team shot multiple on-location videos at the Dogfish Head brewery, Revelation Craft Brewing Company. But we went farther: we also included the beach and boardwalk in Rehoboth, DE.  We wanted to make our involvement in this course a showpiece for our department. Here, we could really stretch what we can do in terms of bringing video to online courses. We hoped it could serve as a model for future online development.
Using our Kaltura integration in Blackboard allows each piece in this series of videos to be embedded in individual course content seamlessly with other assignments.  The videos align with articles, discussions, assessments, and other elements to create a cohesive online experience.

Visit to a virtual classroom
Matt in the “classroom”

While we pride ourselves in creating valuable video and multimedia content for all courses, this course allowed us to take an experimental step toward location shooting beyond the classroom.  With shows like “How It’s Made,” “Dirty Jobs,” and “Mythbusters” in mind, we set out to create content that would truly engage the student. Working with a gregarious instructor like Matt made that very easy.  His passion for the subject comes across just as well on video as it does when he’s teaching in the classroom.
Now the course can be made available to any student anywhere in the world (of legal drinking age!)  The videos stored on Kaltura, incorporated in Blackboard with the other course content, help to create a dynamic, engaging experience for students at a distance.  We also made the video series available on our public-facing video portal, WilmUTube. They can all be found online at and here on this playlist:
Be sure to check out the playlist. One particularly clever touch to creating an online course (or any class!) is the teaser video, which you can find at the top. This short video offers a great way to help students decide if a course is really right for them. It’s a smart move that can save a ton of hassle during enrollment periods. Students get a sense of the course content, the requirements, and the personality of the professor, so they start the class well prepared and are less likely to need to change or drop classes later. Definitely an innovation we expect to see more of in future course catalogs!

Russ Lichterman spent nearly 15 years in broadcast television production before moving to higher education.  He has a B.A. in Film and Media Arts from Temple University and an M.Ed. in Applied Educational Technology from Wilmington University.  He is currently Multimedia Manager at Wilmington University.  Feel free to contact him with questions at [email protected].     

Want to know more about Wilmington University’s approach to creating an online course? Check out the case study.

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