Saturday, December 6, 2008

tips for teachers creating videos

Here are a few tips for teachers who are interested in contributing videos to the initial offering of mathskool:

The idea is to create a brief (say, 10 min or less) presentation about a single, focused topic. Some students are self-motivated, but anyone is more likely to watch a <10 min video that covers the one part they want to learn or review instead of a comprehensive 40 min video, part of which may be redundant to the student.

Once mathskool is set up, it will support sections for various types of supplementary materials for each video. The design will prominently show links to "next" videos that the student may want to explore immediately after watching the current video; you may also indicate "prerequisite" videos in case you assume some knowledge in your lesson. This is meant to encourage teachers to break down longer lessons into smaller pieces, and then string those pieces together with links so that students can easily follow.

What's a good outline for a single video? I don't want to constrain the creativity of the teachers - I can imagine many different types of information being expressed in many different ways. But, in case it helps, here are some possible outlines for short lessons, based on the type of lesson at hand.
  • Introducing a new method of solution (e.g. solving quadratic equations)
    • Define terms and clearly state the general question to answer
    • Give a concrete example of the question
    • Explicitly state the general solution, and how to apply it
    • Solve one or more concrete examples

  • Introducing a new definition or concept (e.g. the idea of a function)
    • You could frame the concept in terms of how it is useful - what problem is made easier using this idea?
    • Clearly and explicitly define the new concept
    • Give several examples and non-examples
    • If appropriate, solve a problem using the new concept

  • Working out examples
    • Very briefly review the idea being illustrated by these examples
    • For each example, start by clearly stating the problem to solve
    • Work through each step carefully, writing down and saying aloud the process
    • Write out the final solution
    • If appropriate, explain how this demonstrates the idea being illustrated

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