Class time created by vodcasting lectures to watch at home
July 10th, 2008

In science classes at Woodland Park High School in Colorado, lectures are recorded and assigned as homework so students can spend class time with hands-on projects, getting teacher help, and discussions. Tony Vincent describes this highly successful experiment on his blog LearningInHand.com. An article about the method in The Pikes Peak Courier View begins:

Two Woodland Park High School chemistry teachers have turned class work and homework on their heads using technology. Now students listen to the teachers’ lectures at home and come to class to do their work

Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams started recording their classroom lectures last year, which is nothing new – college professors have been doing that for a few years. What is new this year is that the two have taken the process a step further. Now they record lectures at home as video podcasts. Students watch them at home and come to school ready to try out what they’ve learned.

The video podcasts are created starting with a basic PowerPoint document. Software allows the teachers to record voices and write over the power-point document using an electronic tablet.

The lesson is saved so that students can download it from the school Web site for use at home or, if they don’t have high speed Internet at home, they can download it to a flash drive and take it home.

Students who don’t have computers at home can get the DVD version of the lecture and watch it on their TVs. Some students even watch them on their I-Pods or I-Phones, Bergmann said. . . .

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Comments

Question: is this a more efficient use of the students’ study time than reading?

The four modes of teaching touched on (lectures, reading, hands-on activities and video) all have their strengths and weaknesses.

For some kinds of information, a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth a thousand pictures. For others, the linear nature of video is much less efficient that text. Try picking a fact out of a 60-minute video versus the doing the same thing in a well-written and well-organized text of equivalent length. And for narrative content, most accomplished readers can read faster than talking speed, so a transcript of a 60-minute speech or lecture takes much less than 60 minutes to read and comprehend.

Both video and text have a shortcoming which is the main reason face-to-face education won’t go away: the ability for students to ask questions and for teachers to monitor students’ comprehension.

Perhaps this teacher is using video effectively, especially if he is using it to demonstrate processes or procedures the students will reproduce in class time. But I fear that the run-of-the-mill school’s response to this would be to produce canned videos of talking heads, which are the worst of all worlds: inefficient, hands-off, and non-interactive.

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