Time to Start Making Videos

Last night, I watched a video on TED.com by Chris Anderson called “How the web powers global innovation.” One idea in particular stood out to me: just as the printing press greatly increased the reach of the written word, internet videos are allowing visual forms of communication to reach a global audience.

And we human beings are more used to visual and face-to-face communication. Writing is a relatively recent invention, and a technology we have to get used to. Visual communication is not.

I was watching this with some friends and I said, “I should make more math videos.” I think I can make user-friendly, informative, short videos that would be useful to people. One of my friends said that this has already been done: it’s called Kahn Academy. I took a look at the site. And while it’s impressive in its scope (one guy posted 1600 videos in the past three years), I think the videos are fairly low quality. And this guy just won a $2 million prize from Google.

So this is giving me renewed motivation to make some useful math videos. First I need to think about a name and branding. I also want a better video camera and desktop computer.

PS – To be fair to Kahn: I guess you don’t have much time to do editing when you post 1600 videos single-handedly. But I watched the first part of his 8-minute Basic Trigonometry lecture, and the first 30 seconds are devoid of any content. I bet he lost half his potential viewers in the first 30 seconds. When I make my videos, the point will be immediately obvious in the first 5 to 10 seconds, and I think I’d want to keep the length to two or three minutes.

8 Responses to “Time to Start Making Videos”

  1. James Browning Says:

    I agree about using video and other visuals. For our Sunday School, I would have the kids reteach the lesson that they just learned and video it and put it on a blog and make it available for podcast. Another cool resource is prezi.com for making presentations. I think it would be especially useful in math, but here is one that i made on the fall of man for our church’s elementary students: http://prezi.com/kcbzzjkx4qlx/in-the-garden-of-eden/

  2. Jean Says:

    I agree – 2 to 3 minutes is a perfect length for sharing information these days. With your humor injected – 2 to 3 minutes would go by pretty quickly :)

    Best wishes with your endeavors – I just watched a couple of your newer YouTube videos & appreciate how you get students interested and involved.

    Pretty cool to see someone else born in 1971 having fun in life!

  3. Joe Says:

    I agree – Kahn rambles a lot and I get extremely bored watching his videos because most are not very focused on a central idea.

  4. Cihan Says:

    My recommendation for setting yourself apart from some other educational video providers would be to provide a multimedia experience. I think that although videos can be wonderful, providing some study materials with them (a lesson outline, review questions, a worksheet, or a “homework assignment”) can make the experience a lot stronger.

    Another random thought: I rarely see educational videos with subtitles, which for the hearing impaired or for those without sound on their computers, renders the video mostly useless. That might be another thought.

  5. charles Says:

    Matthew: It would be interesting to analyze more of the popular educational videos on the web and break them down. Learning isn’t knew, teaching methods have been around for a while.. so who is doing it best? I remember when MIT starting providing their (entire?) academic library available on their website for almost free- and people around the world were using that as their main learning source, while other kids (a high schooler who was an overachiever with an unimaginative High School Math instructor) were using the curriculum in addition to their normal school, IE: “I like watching the [MIT Math Professor]. He’s passionate and makes it interesting.”

    On making the point obvious in the first 8 seconds: Wired did an article SciFi network producing their own low-budget movies several years ago. Their production team laid down several goals- one of which was “You have to see the monster in the first 5 minutes!” I love it. They knew we don’t wait in suspense the entire movie, catching dark shadowy glimpses of the monster. We want to see it! That is one reason we are watching.

    Same thing for your math students. Get to the point. Good call!

    James Browning: Excellent idea! Why do we expect kids to walk away from Sunday School with something more than “what did you learn today?” “Uhh… Jesus. and Love. and Forgive.” Actually, I’ve heard there is more and more competition in the sunday school curriculum market. I’ve taught sunday school and I am blown away how hard it is to convey such grand ideas in a small amount of time, in that environment. It is like making a good bumper sticker- every idea just can’t be conveyed so simply.

    Cihan: I agree. Subtitles really help a lot. Youtube now offers the ability to add your subtitles after the fact, but I don’t like editing on a website. Most websites are slow (click, load page.. click, load page..) and only recently allow for editing with instant feedback (AJAX). I’m not sure if there is a standard way to provide subtitles (because there isn’t a standard video format we use yet for the web. Sigh.)

  6. Charles’ Boise Blog » Get to the point! Horror movies and Math Videos Says:

    [...] friend Matthew is thinking about producing some instruction math videos online and had some great thoughts about the videos on Kahn Academy: I watched the first part of his [...]

  7. Arienna Says:

    Please make tutorials! I used to be a linguist and I suspect my mind works in different ways than other math students – it can often take a little work to fold the information into the right shape to fit into my head. So when my math prof covers material and I go home feeling like I don’t entirely understand it, I look for tutorials to listen to it explained differently. I watch both Khan (who does ramble) and PatrickJMT and both are amazing resources who present information and explanations in slightly different ways. Neither one is guaranteed to present it in a way that causes a lightning bolt of understanding for me, though they’ve both managed the trick at various phases of calculus. :)

    If you made math videos, you wouldn’t be repeating the work of other people, you’d be offering a unique presentation and method of explanation that would be virtually guaranteed to work better for some learners than others.

  8. Herman Says:

    I love your video’s you have hit on the correct concept of humor educational content and technology. I’m hoping to duplicate this at my new school which is a elementary school this year a challenge since I have never taught at that level before I will be studying your work for my inspiration.

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