the expert to “speak more slowly” and wanted “better audio or subtitles.” The category of method and content featured the wish for
live video chats and three students wanted to have “multiple
rounds” of exchange with the experts to “answer further questions.”
Two students wanted to watch the videos by themselves instead of
working in groups, and one student wished for “less specific topics.”
In the last lesson of the exchange, some school computers malfunctioned, which elicited complaints by seven students.
In the exchange on HIV, 10 comments attested to students’
appreciation of the video exchange, declaring it to be “good the
way it was” and “very interesting.” Others said the expert was
“authentic” and “very likable,” and that communicating with her
“made for a nice change” and was “touching” and “
thought-provoking.” Regarding language comprehension, seven students
wished for more support in the form of “subtitles” or “
illustrations.” Four of them explained that those aids would help them
understand the experts’ unfamiliar accent. Another three students
asked for the expert to talk more slowly. In terms of method and
content, there were five comments asking for “more time to film
the videos” and to analyze the experts’ answers. Another six students wanted to “gain further insight into [the expert’s] work”
by “having more questions answered.” A popular idea (12 mentions) was the use of “live video chat.”
We will discuss insights from all three studies to answer our research
Research Question 1: Is our instructional approach for an expert video
exchange feasible in realistic school contexts? If so, what are the relevant
factors for a successful implementation?
Compared to similar approaches (Basiliko & Gupta, 2015; Woods-
Townsend et al., 2015), our concept posed an additional challenge
due to the use of a foreign language. Answering our first research
question, the results confirm that the model is feasible in school set-
tings with different curricular topics and age groups. There are, how-
ever, several aspects to consider for ensuring a smooth and successful
implementation. Compared to Basiliko and Gupta’s (2015) model,
our practical testing showed that school settings require more detailed
planning and preparation than university courses. One factor is the
critical role of an intermediary who checks video contributions for
clarity, politeness, and redundancies. In addition to developing sup-
port materials for the evaluation of answers, this imposes considerable
time requirements on the teacher. However, it transpired that these
demands decreased with experience and already developed materials.
Further, our observations and some students’ comments indicate that
the project should be scheduled generously.
Because all the students in our studies were ELLs, language
comprehension was of central interest. Some participants perceived
the experts to speak too fast, which might be due to their being
used to learner-oriented, often slower-paced speech rates. Natural
speech rates are, however, a valuable element of authentic conversation and might even improve comprehension skills over time
(Hayati, 2010). Also, since there are options to rewatch videos
and to use subtitles, a potential loss of information is kept at a minimum. Although the unusual variety of Ugandan English was perceived as an additional challenge, students were confident that
this could be resolved by further language support. Also, given
appropriate time, the six classes were able to answer guiding questions and extract relevant information from the videos by collaborating. It can thus be said that experts with unusual varieties of
English are a viable option.
Our experience with malfunctioning computers in the cell biology
context emphasizes the need to consider potential alternatives beforehand. In our case, one teacher remained with the students whose
computers worked, while the other evaluated the answers using
Method A (Figures 1 and 2) in a different classroom.
Using live video chats was a popular suggestion in all three contexts. However, all three studies confirmed that recorded videos feature possibilities for mediation, preparation, and methodology,
which live video chats cannot match. Short live video chats about less
complex matters might be feasible (e.g., having students introduce
themselves or present their questions after practicing them). Given
the technological basis, this could boost their motivation without risking substantial comprehension difficulties.
Table 2. Sample of students’ comments and suggestions (translated from German) for improvement,
ordered by category, with curricular context in parentheses.
Qualitative Category Sample Student Comments
Appreciation • It was super. (cell biology)
• I liked interacting with the experts and I think these kinds of things should be done more often.
• I liked that it was someone who lived far away and whom we would never have had contact with
• It would be good to ask the expert to speak more slowly. (cell biology, immunology)
• Subtitles for all videos/at all times. (immunology)
Method and content • I actually liked all of it, but it might be interesting to do a live chat. (cell biology, immunology)
• Exchange videos more often to answer further questions. (cell biology)
• Longer evaluation of the experts’ answers. (immunology)
• More insight into [the experts’] work. (immunology)