Will Instructional Videos Revolutionize or Ruin Education?

Check out this thought provoking TED Talk by Salman Khan talking about how and why he created Khan Academy, a series of educational videos in math and other subjects. “He shows the power of interactive exercises, and calls for teachers to consider flipping the traditional classroom script — give students video lectures to watch at home, and do “homework” in the classroom with the teacher available to help.”

After watching the video, I had a couple of thoughts that I kept coming back to…

THIS VIDEO IS AN EXAMPLE ITSELF:  See how much you can learn from video that you might not otherwise learn!  See how portable and accessible learning becomes…on a global level.  The world’s best teachers can be your teachers, in a way.

MEETING DIFFERENT LEARNING NEEDS: Video lectures allow students to pause, rewind and fast forward instruction to suit their learning styles. Amazing! This could be a great equalizer for students!

FREEING UP CLASS TIME FOR PARTICIPATION: Teachers can “use technology to humanize the classroom” as the video noted by having instruction happen at home via the video and thus free up class time so that participation and engagement can happen there. Then, students will have had time to process and formulate questions as well as have time to get a response. This is another amazing point!

MAKING VIDEOS AUDITS TEACHERS’ SKILLS = GOOD, BUT INTIMITADATING: I believe creating an online instructional video is a very valuable process for a teacher to go through; after all, a good instructional video is efficient and has a good “story arch”. You can’t make a good instructional video without being an absolute expert on the topic—if you’re not, it is obvious to the viewer. This I believe would bring transparency to teachers’ abilities in teaching. It would put teachers’ skills on the public stage, up for greater scrutiny of their teaching skill than teachers have now when teaching behind closed doors. This is a great thing for students! This is also a great thing for confident teachers who are reflective and want to constantly improve—I personally welcome the exciting challenge, and would find it rewarding! But it is also a scary thing for anyone–I know many teachers who would stop teaching if they had to make or be in instructional videos regularly…not because they are not amazing teachers, but because being in or making movies is not their thing. It’s a very self-conscious act to put yourself out there this way. Also, some teachers would also have to hear more criticism of their teaching; but of course, this could lead to improvements. In a system where video instruction is the norm, only the best, strongest teachers would be able to survive and would choose to stay in the profession. You would be left with only the cream of the crop—then at this point, you’d have to pay them as the movie stars they are or you’ll loose them! George Clooney and Helen Mirren aren’t going to make you instructional videos for 50k a year!

INCREASED DEMAND ON TEACHER TIME AND A NEED FOR GREATER TECHNOLOGICAL SKILL: What new skills would teachers be required to gain to put all of their instructional content online? When would there be time to create these videos? I have made instructional videos in the past and I personally estimate it took me more than 8x the time to make a video as it did to prepare a straightforward lesson with all of the editing of clips and enhancing with images and demo. Perhaps this is a process that could be streamlined by having onsite technology support so that teachers can focus on teaching as opposed to writing, directing, starring and filming their lessons. I actually think this is quite feasible to assemble an in-house instructional video production teams…you just need time, money, creativity, talent and the will.

VIDEO LEARNING DOESN’T SUIT ALL LEARNING STYLES: Remember, while many people are audio or visual learners, others are may be kinesthetic or other types of learners. Not everyone learns by passively watching TV programs. (How could video lessons be made more active? Hmmm? Wii? Could there be a physical component?)

BRAIN/HEALTH ISSUES: Before we could make watching videos regularly a mandatory thing for children, it’s a matter of health that we have data on how regular exposure to this kind of media impacts the brain and brain development. You can’t tell kids “Don’t watch so much TV—it will rot your brain.” And then force them to watch school TV shows! If all key learning happened in video, then those who don’t, can’t, or prefer to not watch are at a disadvantage.

Overall, I think Salman Khan’s message is powerful in shifting the ways we think students need to “receive learning”. As with any new idea, we need to think through the bugs; but we can, and if we do it right, this could be powerful and transformative.

So what do you think?  Could video instruction help or hinder learning?  What do we need to consider before moving forward with this?

One thought on “Will Instructional Videos Revolutionize or Ruin Education?

  1. Very interesting blog post – a BIG topic that generates a lot of thoughts and questions. I personally really like the concept of utilizing video as a tool for instruction and the idea of doing the “homework” or applied learning in the classroom. That is my learning style, and as a student this form of learning would have benefited me.

    The idea of having the instruction by video and the applied study in the classroom where there can be more support and participation would be immensely beneficial for a lot of students. I’m not a teacher, I’m in sales and business where merit and excellence make all of the difference. I think humans — by nature, enjoy having things of the highest quality, whether it be instruction, a great vista, old growth forest, spring water or conversation, or a fantastic meal. Instructional videos could allow the masses to experience the highest caliber teaching at an affordable price.

    From my understanding, an issue that will occur with this potential model is a backlash from unions – and probably for good reason. You pointed out that some excellent instructors who are experts in their field, simply are not inclined toward video presentation of themselves as tool. Their dedication and hard work should not be placed in jeopardy because of a new way of doing things. But at the same time, if species don’t adapt, they die. Business and our lives today are no different, we must embrace change and adapt to it. In the case of larger bodies of professionals, like teachers, nurses…etc, it should be the unions and legislators who work together to ensure that their team of employees are given the training and tools that are needed to apply new methods.

    My condensed thought is that I’m all for this, but that there are numerous obstacles to overcome prior to implementing and promoting it in the public sector. I think that in the immediate future this method will primarily be used by ambitious, motivated, entrepreneurial-minded instructors who have the ability to use this type of technology.

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