October 4, 2010

Video Puts a New Twist on Homework

Author Daniel Pink’s recent blog post about a teacher who uses an innovative technique to educate high school students really caught my eye. Pink’s story is about Denver area teacher Karl Fisch. To help his 9th and 10th graders learn algebra, Fisch spends valuable classroom time helping the kids solve the kinds of problems that are usually given as homework.

What happens to the traditional classroom lectures? They don’t go away. Instead, Fisch records them on video. The students’ homework is to watch the presentations on YouTube.

Perhaps the best part for Fisch’s students is that YouTube limits videos to 15 minutes. But it’s easy to see how “video homework” can assist in the learning process. The kids watch the concepts at home. They can stop or rewind the video to make sure they understand what the instructor is teaching. When the kids come to class, the teacher is ready to assist them in applying what they saw on the video.

Teachers at different levels have long used video as a tool. Video is effective because we are visual creatures. We like to see and hear at the same time. Video allows us to experience an event or see the passion behind the words of a teacher.

Would Sesame Street provide the same benefit to pre-school education if it were on the radio instead of TV? Probably not. We learn visually from an early age. Who’s to say watching lectures on video isn’t a better way for kids to learn algebra? Especially if teachers like Karl Fisch are more hands-on when the students come to class.

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