Opening Shot of the NYT Newsgraphic on Ski Jumping
I don’t know what’s going on in the newsgraphics department at the New York Times these days, but they’ve really hit upon the most wonderful way to create beautifully engaging and effective teaching videos. Have you seen these?
Understanding Short Track Speed Skating
Understanding Giant Slalom
Understanding the Luge
Understanding Ski Jumping
And from 2012….Snowfall at Avalanche Creek and A Game of Shark and Minnow
There’s so much to love about these gems, it’s hard to know where to begin. But let me try…
First and foremost, the clean, elegant look – no intrusion of the interface, the video takes over the whole screen in luscious high-definition.
- The blend of narration and text to explain (good judgement there about when to use what).
- I admire the way they control the pace of the learner through the story – you vertically scroll to proceed – with some control – but at certain key points, the video takes over and just plays. One caveat to this is that there are no standard video controls available to you. If you try to imagine (as I’ve done) applying their method to an educational module to explain, say protein synthesis or cell division, you would want to give the learner the ability to “rewind” a scootch, replay, reconsider.
- The overlay of instructive graphics on top of an image is particularly instructive. Not only does this method skewer our eye to the critical element (in the case of the slalom skier, Ted Ligety, the extreme angle of his body in relationship to the ground), but they guide you through the explanation by drawing the graphic in real-time, John-Madden-style. Very effective.
- A generous and smart mix of media types – animation, video, audio, still graphics, text, models, sketches
- A very clever mix of focus – long-view, close-up, macro, micro – your eye and your brain feel exercised and engaged. There is no downtime.
- Numbered steps when you need them to aid the explanation.
- Often when using digital media to teach, we learners suffer from the “spelunking problem” – that is, it’s a bit like spelunking in a cave, you don’t know where you are in relationship to the whole journey – when will it end? In the case of these modules, you are given subtle cues about how much information lies ahead of you. Note the small vertical column of dots to the right of the screen that serve as a progress bar – a clear commitment read out. Knowing that, you can relax and concentrate on the business at hand.
So very, very well done. Bravo, NY Times, and keep them coming!
You can see all of the NYTimes Olympic graphics here and follow the NYTimes graphics group on Twitter: @nytgraphics
In earlier posts (here and here), I’ve written about the continuinng medical education (CME) programs we’ve been conducting in the virtual world of Second Life. The most recent of these – Smoking Cessation with Motivational Interviewing – was a three-event series (sponsored by CS2day) that ran in June, 2011. Working with the enormously talented machinima artist, Ariella Furman, from Framed in 3D, we put together a summary video of the program:
I love the way this video captures the feeling of the workshop – the presence you feel from the avatars listening, the tentativeness of their attempts at role-play (and how hard that is), the sense of the physical space where the events took place, and the dynamism in the facilitator’s explanations of motivational interviewing technique. Considering the fact that this program ran for six hours in real time, you get a pretty darned good take on it in three minutes.
Video is a powerful medium. No doubt about it. Not only does it have an emotional quality to it (that amplifies its impact) but it packs information efficiently. The only catch is that when we show a video to students, we like to sort of narrate it, explain it, or at least provide context. We like to point out important things, ask questions, or make sure that the students get all the connections. Those requirements usually mean that valuable in-class time is required to show video.
There are a couple of new online tools that could help with this dilemma. The first one I found is called Veotag. With this application you can basically make a table of contents to a video (with chapter or topic headings). The video plays side by side with your constructed table of contents. Students can jump to the various parts of the video by clicking on your pre-created links. You can also add notes, tags, and comments to further explain or amplify what’s going on in the video. Your notes and the table of contents display next to the viewing window. As an additional benefit, if you are working with one of your own videos or a student-created video, these “veotags” are apparently automatically picked up by search engines so you’ll get more search engine traffic to your site by posting veotagged videos.
The other one you might want to try is Bubbleply. With this tool you can add a data layer to run on top of any existing, online video. You can put text comments, images, or links in that data layer. When you’re done, Bubbleply generates a new link. You then send your students to that new link and they’ll see your annotated version of the video. So, with this tool, they will see the video and your comments simultaneously in the same window.
At first I was thinking that these tools could be used to create teacher-annotated content videos so that students could watch them outside of class even when you’re not there to narrate them. But it occurs to me that they could also be used by students to create their own narrated videos.
Any other ideas?
When you find a video on a site like You Tube that you’d like to use in your classroom, what do you do? Most schools don’t allow You Tube to be accessed within their firewalls and, even if your school does, you probably would like to embed the video in a PPT or some other format. There are a number of ways to snag a video and download it to your desktop. First, there are a variety of small, free tools to assist you. Here’s a reliable list of free tools to do this work.
I’ve also found a couple of sites that offer video downloading services without the need to download software to your computer (which I prefer). My favorite is Zamzar . It’s worked reliably for me and its very easy to use. Here’s how you do it: Point your browser to www.zamzar.com, select the “download videos” tab, and follow the 4-step, on-screen instructions.
1. Paste the url of the desired video into the blank they provide
2. Select the desired video format (MOV for Quicktime, AVI for Windows media)
3. Provide your email address
4. Click convert
Zamzar will then upload the video to their server and email you a link to the downloaded video. Once you receive the link in an email message, you click on it, that takes you to the site with your downloaded file, and you download it to your desktop. Zamzar can handles files up to 100MB in size.
And note while you’re there that you can also use Zamzar to convert other kinds of files (PDFs, sound, image, and music). Very handy. If you’d like you can also put the Zamzar converter tool on your browser bookmark bar so that you can convert in fewer steps right off of a desired page in your browser. Here’s the spot to get the Zamzar converter button.