3, 2, 1…Explain!

My favorite “Explainer”, Lee Lefever, just posted a new blog about the new age of the video explanation.  In it, he postulizes that perhaps 2012 will usher in a new genre for video:  “Drama, comedy, documentary, advertising and explanation.”  Lee does a great job of explaining (no surprise there) why this trend is being enabled and adopted globally, and it made me reflect on why it’s also happening here at WPI.

A.  The assignments.  Students have always been assigned multimedia projects here at WPI.  In fact, teaching students how to use video to tell a story is one of Media Specialist Jim Monaco’s favorite things to do.  But recently we’ve seen an increase in the number of students assigned to make videos on “How To” do something – run the SEM, dissect a pig, etc.  Faculty are assigning these projects for two reasons.  #1 – Richard Feynman wrote, “What I cannot create I do not understand”.  The act of documenting a procedure allows students the time to develop a deep understanding of each step of a method, including the reasoning behind it.  #2 – This videos will actually be seen by someone besides the professor!  As we the general public search for new ways to understand things, video explanations are actually in high demand.  A feeling of relevancy and practical connection to the world raises the stakes of an assignment and can increase student motivation.

B.  The tools.  Here at WPI, we have a wealth of software and hardware available for students  interested in creating video explanations.  Echo360 Personal Capture allows students and faculty to easily create and publish screen captures.  Camtasia Studio (available on every campus-owned machine) has a more robust editing capability and can be used for some really polished products!  Adobe Premiere (available in the Multimedia Lab in Gordon Library) is a full video editing program, and the professional quality work of our students and faculty reflect great use of the tool!  The ATC also has a lending library of hardware (microphones, etc) available.

Interested in creating your own video explanation?  Contact the Technology for Teaching and Learning Team.