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While preparing various courses for Eduflix, we get a chance to go through video lessons from many teachers. While doing so, apart from learning from the content of videos, we learn a lot about the methods used by these content owners to prepare these lessons. While going through many such videos, we noticed these three points –
1. Duration of the lessons – Our normal classroom lectures are generally an hour-long. However, we are bound to sit in the classroom for this duration. In this one hour, our thoughts wander away from lecture multiple times. Even if we stop following the teacher, we are supposed to sit in the classroom. These constraints do not apply when we watch videos – you can walk out anytime, you can pause, rewind or fast forward. Further, In the age of multi-tasking – browsing, instant messaging, social networking – our attention span for one particular video is nowhere near that one hour allotted for physical classroom. All these imply that video lessons should be of considerably shorter duration. Or longer lessons be broken down into smaller chunks so that students can take breaks. Although it is very subjective, but my guess is this duration should be around 10 mins. Making a lesson interesting for more than 10 mins would be an uphill task. Check these two videos (both are awesome videos – but which one would you watch)
2. Recording of the lessons – Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of video lessons based on how they are recorded. One kind is classroom recording where there is a high-resolution camera recording the activities of a teacher on the blackboard. This gives a true feeling of a classroom. Students get to see gestures and facial expressions of the teacher – some of the key tools in imparting lessons. However, there are few problems with this method. Most of the time, what students see is the back of the teacher while she is scribbling on the board. Also teacher hinders the view of the blackboard. The other method is imparting the lesson on a PC screen using some drawing tool and capturing the screen with teachers voice-over. There are three main advantages of this method – Firstly, students can see the scribblings very clearly. Secondly, the costs involved in setting up this method are minimal – you don’t need a high quality camera. And thirdly, the bit rate needed to transmit this kind of video or the size required to store is very low. This makes the video accessible to students having low-bandwidth connections. The choice of which of these method to use would also greatly depend on the kind of lessons. Examples of both types –
3. Contextual information – Classroom lessons work mainly because the teacher has control over the class. Teacher knows the 30-odd students sitting in her class. She understands the kind of level she needs to go to sync up with the kids. Over that, kids can always raise their hands and ask questions. However in video learning, students lose these advantages. There are ways in which we can circumvent these problems and we are working on some of these. But one of the best solutions is to create the video lessons such that students have minimum doubts while going through them. This can be done by making the videos very elaborate and as contextual as possible. Five minus two is three – is fine. But what about you go to a shop and buy a candy for two bucks, but you have no change. So you pay five bucks and get three rupees in back in change. It will not work all the time, but will definitely provide better learning experience to students. Heres one video on simple equations –
These are just few insights, and there is high probability that some of these might be wrong. Nevertheless, I hope that we will keep learning more about this powerful weapon that can educate millions of students.