Recording Videos for Higher Education

When I was a freshman, I made my first video tutorial. It was to teach engineering students how to used Auto CAD (a software that was widely been used by civil or mechanical engineers at that time) to draw things. At that time, my video was spread by copying/pasting with flash drives. I did not expect years later, college courses being taught using video tutorials would become a proper approach to higher education and the internet can fasten the spread of the tutorials this much.

The reason why I did the tutorial was simply to save my time. I was intensively trained to master Auto CAD. In the meantime, I was in a class that needed to use Auto CAD. When the final exam approaching, my classmates started to reach me. Be able to say no is a good property that I did not get at that time. And eventually, when the number of students coming to me reached ten, I cannot manage to do it. I did not want some of them to feel I was unfair to them. Then I recorded a video describing how to use this software. Then whenever someone asked me to help them with Auto CAD, I give them the video that I recorded. It was a successful practice. A friend came to my dorm one night and said that “I can hear your voice all the way when I came here.”

One year later, I became a software trainer in the CAD center at the university. I recorded more videos and coded scripts to make the video interactive. When it came to the tests, the professor allowed the students to copy my tutorials to the computers for the tests. He thought that “as long as the students can learn the skills, it does not matter when and how.”

Now I realize that video lectures mean more than saving the lecturer’s time. Here are two facts that I noticed in education:

  • Educators may teach something subconsciously that they do not intend to teach.
  • Students may not be able to digest the whole knowledge body that was taught by the lecturer in the class.

I was in a communication class. In that class, I was asked to do some movements and make sounds with the movement. Another student was supposed to learn what I did and repeat what I did within a short time. She did some movements I did not think I did. And it turned out that I did that without noticing it. The Same concept can be applied to education. Recording video allows the lecturers to review what they said. When I recorded the video, I re-recorded and edited several times. I made mistakes in convey the concepts and skills. If I recorded the video as I was talking to the students, making corrections, the video does not look good and the students will be confused by the zigzag to the true knowledge.

When I was in classes offered by other departments (not Civil Engineering), I was easy to get lost when I heard some terms that I haven’t heard about. I found that my life became much easier when the professors followed textbooks that I can reach. I can review the classes later with the help of the textbooks. Textbooks are helpful because they are concise and precise. But there are concepts that are hard to describe using words or images. An image worth a thousand words; and a video worth a thousand images.

Like anything else, only the videos made with efforts are effective. I also see tutorials on YouTube that are worse than a textbook or simply class notes. There are training in grad schools to teach students how to write properly. I guess that there will be more training that prepares future professors with video skills.

3 thoughts on “Recording Videos for Higher Education

  1. ahallibu says:

    When I ask my students what they like about my class, use of videos is always a popular response. In psychology, I don’t use instructional videos all that much, but I do show a fair amount of Ted Talks and clips from Last Week with John Oliver. The Ted Talks are helpful for sharing expertise on a topic with the class, especially when I only know so much about the topic, and sometimes giving a personal experience (e.g., with mental illness). John Oliver’s clips do a good job of presenting multiple sides on a controversial or complex issue. Plus, they add the element of humor, which helps students pay attention and recall the main points.

  2. webbm says:

    I really enjoyed reading your blog and your experience with preparing a tutorial video. I remembered when I was an undergraduate student, I had a similar story for one of my classes that I really like the topic. At the end of the semester, I had to review class notes with nine of my classmates separately. As you mentioned, I could not say “No” and I actually enjoyed teaching the material to my classmates. And yes! I agree that the videos made with efforts are effective!

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