Blended learning in Basic Algorithms (Richard Cole)

Overview: In Spring 2014, Silver Professor of Computer Science Richard Cole, integrated blended learning techniques into his undergraduate course, CSCI UA-0310 Basic Algorithms. This class introduces future computer scientists to the process of designing efficient and adaptable algorithms.

Students had access to videos that went into further detail about core concepts introduced in the course.

Course Innovation: In this example of blended learning that combines online materials and face-to-face instruction, Dr. Cole recorded videos on key concepts known to challenge students in the past.  This meant that he strategically created videos based on level of concept difficulty rather than creating videos for every single topic.  Students were free to consult videos as many times as needed and at their own pace.

After the release of the first batch of videos, Dr. Cole conducted a formative assessment to gauge how students were using the videos.

Technologies used:


  • Tablet for real-time annotations and drawing
  • NYU Stream for recording, uploading and sharing videos


  • NYU Stream to access videos

Outcome: Here are a summary of student feedback about the videos.

  • 35% of respondents viewed the videos before the topic was presented
  • 100% of respondents viewed the videos after the topic was presented
  • 100% of respondents say they would be interested in having access to videos on additional topics
  • 94% of respondents thought the videos were helpful or very helpful
  • 41% of respondents used the videos as their primary reference materials and 50% used both textbooks and the videos; 0% used the textbook only as their primary reference material
  • 61% of respondents would have liked some way to self-assess (test) their comprehension of the videos.

The videos are a great supplement to the lectures. I personally watch them after the lectures and find them very useful to review and strengthen my knowledge of the material presented, which makes them especially helpful when I do the weekly problem sets.

Videos are great and very helpful for explaining the basic concepts of the lecture. I would like it if the video explained some more difficult concepts as well like sample questions that we do durring recitation.

The videos are a tremendous help. Please continue to post them as the course moves on.