Exploring the Online Classroom with Camtasia

As a teacher at the Michigan Virtual School, Andrew Vanden Heuvel faces the unique challenge of teaching students who are not physically in front of him. To help create effective lessons, he uses Camtasia Studio to create videos covering physics topics that are often difficult for students to understand.

Andrew's Story

STEM Curriculum Comes Alive with Video

Meet Andrew Vanden Heuvel

Andrew Vanden Heuvel teaches AP physics and astronomy at the Michigan Virtual School, where he also serves as a course developer and project manager. Andrew physically works from home, teaching his courses asynchronously to students throughout the state. His goal is to "create engaging educational experiences that inspire so that every student can rediscover the beauty and wonder of the universe."

Andrew was recently named Michigan's 2011 Online Teacher of the Year and a finalist for National Online Teacher of the Year. In addition to teaching high school online, Andrew also develops innovative technology-based STEM projects for USA Today and NASA.

Reaching Students With Camtasia Videos

His approach to online education is the same in class as it is online: engage the students. Andrew does this online throughout the state of Michigan by reducing the number of lectures and leveraging Camtasia Studio. He uses a variety of screen capture videos to show his students how to problem solve, navigate physics simulations, and learn by playing related physics games. This video-based approach has allowed Andrew to develop a personal, one-on-one connection with students as they strive to understand rich yet challenging STEM material.

"Students routinely say that the most helpful items in the course are the Camtasia videos that I upload," said Andrew. "I use these videos to show how to solve a challenging problem, to demonstrate the use of an online simulation, or to introduce a new concept in an engaging way."

Developing Stronger Connections

Andrew has unique insight into the benefits and challenges of teaching an online course. "A lot of time is wasted in the physical classroom, and not just in the ways one might expect," he said. "In a physical classroom, all students are presumed to be at the same place in the class, but one student may still be unsure about the previous lesson or unit, while another student learned this material before and is ready for the next unit."

"The power of the online classroom is that every student can proceed at their own pace," said Andrew. "This changes my role as a teacher to one who supports each student individually as they progress."

In 2010, Andrew's students had a pass rate of 94% with 154 out of 164 students passing their course.

Students routinely say that the most helpful items in the course are the Camtasia videos that I upload.

- Andrew Vanden Heuvel,
Teacher, Michigan Virtual School
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