Media is rich. Media is alluring. But when media is dry, media is dead. We all know this to be evident and yet when we utilize media in the classroom we often forget or abandon this simple truth.
There’s a trove of writing on how the human mind learns through media and in turn how to effectively utilize tools such as graphics, tables, and video tutorials. To summarize: in order for there to be meaningful and effective learning we as instructors must be mindful to not overload a student’s natural capacity for comprehension. This isn’t a push away from academic rigger but instead a cry to teach in a way that is compelling and efficient. The better we understand how the human mind works, the more effective our teaching can become. A few take aways that I’ve chosen to implement:
- Our eyes and ears can only process a certain amount of information at a time, so it is vital that we not overwhelm these senses. Practically this might mean …
- Crafting an experience that utilizes auditory and visual elements.
- Identifying which sense should be the primary channel for conveying information at any given moment.
- Removing redundancies between the sensory avenues.
- Trimming needless elements that simply distract.
- Creating an experience that is interesting enough that the student wants to pay attention (Watch any movie; shots rarely last longer than 10 seconds, and if they do, there’s something interesting about what you’re seeing or hearing).
- All instruction assumes previous knowledge. In cognitive processing, the mind is constantly pulling information from long term memory in order to place new information in context giving it value and meaning. It is then vitally important that we either use common vocabulary and common ideas or we need to provide the opportunity to get up to speed. Practically this might mean …
- Access to outside resources.
- Introductory courses and lessons.
- Identifying multiple entry points into a course.
With this fuller understanding of how to better reach students, I’ve defined six pillars that support me in my teaching through The Nerdy Professor. there could be more, these are just the ones that were most important to me. In all of our courses you’ll fine the following to be true:
Sometimes it feels like you need a degree in rocket science to get a handle on technology (or at least computer science). We’ll make sure that we start at the beginning so that anyone can learn these skills. For those of you who already know what you’re doing? Feel free to skip ahead in a course.
Each course, each chapter, and each lesson will also put the information in context, giving what you’re learning value and meaning. We’ll discuss real world situations and ask you to try out real life examples.
Information can be well organized, clear, and understandable but if the delivery isn’t approachable the chain of meaningful learning is cut short. So …
- We’ll always use conversational language.
- We’ll always be upbeat and energetic.
- We’ll always be a wee bit sassy.
Similarly we’ll create visually interesting and stimulating video. There will be movement, changes in frame size, and you’ll even see faces from time to time.
All this to slickify (I used it, so now it’s a word) understanding.
Technology is a nasty horrible beast filled with words and terms and dials and switches and problems and pitfalls and lions and tigers and bears! Oh my!
We promise that you’ll face that beast, but we also are committed to preparing you prior. Our courses aren’t short, they’re comprehensive. We want to explain every detail in a language you can understand while preparing you to speak the language of technology.
This project is based out of a need; to create a space where artists can easily teach themselves about the technology used in their discipline. The most difficult part of the journey are those first steps. You wish you had someone to walk with you, holding your hand. Let us be your guide.
Along that journey, we’ll ensure that each lesson is vital in the process, that nothing is glossed over, and yet everything is needed, that the coursework is efficient.
Okay, this last isn’t a word, but I hope you get the idea: segment-able.
Research has shown that we can only absorb information through video in short stints. We need a rhythm of method and style. In a movie we break up the story using scenes or a variation of style. Here, my method is to provide many short videos rather than a few long ones. You’ll find time to think. Reflect after one video ends and before the next one begins, through a quiz, an assignment; it all prepares us to learn the next lesson.
Many short lessons also means that revisiting a single piece of information is quick and easy. There’s no sifting through a long video, just jump ahead to the needed lesson.
This also means that revisiting a single piece of information is quick and easy. There’s no sifting through a long video, just jump ahead to the needed lesson.
In order to fully commit learning to memory there needs to be some sort of review. Tests and quizzes work to assess facts and figures; which is important. But asking a student to implement what they’ve learned into a problem and its solution assesses the ability to transfer the information into real world scenarios.
Therefore, every lesson and every course will have a quiz or a challenge to help you ensure that you’ve comprehended the material. I’ll often even give you materials to utilize and an example of what a project’s end product might look like.
This is of course a simple summary of how and why we’ve crafted our videos. If you’re interested in further reading, here are a few of my favorite resources: