Why is video such a good technology to use in teaching? The most obvious answer would be related to how much the technology has progressed in the last few years- making it easier to use and more accessible. You can film yourself talking into a webcam and upload it instantly. Most people can do it through their mobile phone. Video is increasingly quicker to upload and the quality is improving all the time. There is a growing community of people being brought together by sharing video and communication tools using video, such as Skype, are bringing the world closer together.
However, I think that people can often get too caught up in the ever evolving technology of video and how easy it’s becoming to film and distribute content and therefore miss the very specific and unique qualities that video has, which makes it a very powerful teaching tool in it’s own right. I thought I’d try and demonstrate this by sharing something we produced recently.
A video uses images and sound at the same time, so it’s making use of two different learning styles by default. By using the other techniques of video making, you can further stimulate the cognitive process of the students. Each edit, use of camera shot or angle, the pace of the video and the relationship between the narrative and picture are just some of the things that can be manipulated to give the viewer a specific message. Video has its own language, which isn’t apparent on the surface in most cases (nor does it need to be) but is used to construct the simplest ‘talking head’ interview to the most complex 30 minute documentary. The best way to show this is to deconstruct a video with a simple learning outcome.
Have a look at this instructional video we produced for the fashion courses.
The learning outcome of this is that a student will be able to thread this machine successfully and unaided. To achieve this we used a number of techniques. There is complete synergy between the voiceover instructions and the action on the screen, to enhance the message (as opposed to where the pictures may differ to encourage more active viewing/learning.) The use of a wide then close shot, shows the location of the action in relation to the rest of the machine, followed by the detail needed to determine the exact action to carry out. Reinforcement by repetition is used throughout, with the sequence of threading steps shown in full, broken down, then shown again. Time is condensed with the editing (in other words only the relevant parts of the process are shown- not the untangling of the thread along the way etc) but the pace is slow to absorb the information.
Of course, this is an instructional video, so there is a single aim (that the student can follow and imitate the procedure.) If we’re trying to introduce a more complex idea, e.g. evoking empathy for a patient in a role-play to teach good practice, then we would work with the script and production to scaffold this in to the video. If explaining a complex theory we may alternate the most difficult aspects, with simple graphical analogies, to vary the level of intellectual depth.
This doesn’t mean hours should be spent making sure that every shot in an edit is justified using one of the learning theories (nothing would ever get done!) but hopefully shows the possibilities of how far a video can go to enable effective learning.
So far, the students on the fashion course haven’t been able to learn the above threading process by either following the diagrams in the handbook, by real life demonstration (they forget by the time they have to do it again) or by text. If the ‘Overlock machine’ video succeeds in its aim then it will provide a solution to this and undoubtedly prove a valuable resource for students. I’ll be awaiting feedback on its success and will keep you posted.