Yikes. Guess who is a week behind in 9x9x25 blogging. Good thing no one is keeping count. Right Terry?

Mine was triggered by reading a 9x9x25 post by JR Dingwell, A different approach to the ‘video lecture’. Like JR, I’m not all that excited about video capture or lecture video:

I mentioned that normally I shudder when I hear people want to use video. It conjures up images of talking head lectures, voice over PowerPoints, screen in screen, or worst of all…the dreaded video lecture.


And while the high end course trailers he shared are fun, producing them begs for Massive Budgets. I’m more interested in the example he shared:

The general design included readings (textbook, websites etc.), video interviews (more on this in a second), and instructor written narrative that wove it all together. The instructors voice really came through in their writing.

The videos weren’t video lectures, but instead a spin on guest lectures/interviews. The instructor and I planned out the framework of the course, the key ideas and concepts, and identified questions based on the material that you may come at from different angles. A series of questions were created, and the instructor then interviewed faculty from within the school, across the province and country in different organizations, PhD candidates who were looking into related areas, etc. It was close to 20 interviews if I recall. Some of the interviews were about specific case studies which appeared at the end of a module, but many of the videos ended up having 2-4 experts responding to the same prompt. All of a sudden, in additional to the textbook and article authors’ perspectives we had a variety of perspectives on the same topic. The course also begins and ends with a montage of almost every interviewee answering the same questions: one on the current state of affairs in the discipline, and one on the future directions.

This is closer to the way I prefer using video, as a more conversational, participatory mode. This was the idea behind the Studio Visits Mia Zamora and I did in co-teaching NetNarr as well as the virtual bus tours we did the first year. The production quality was rock bottom- just a google hangout.

But for the most part, the way video is usually used/discussed is as some portion of course content, especially in those MOOC things. You find ideas in things like How MOOC Video Production Affects Student Engagement ending up witht he usual conclusions about bite sized video pieces. And the ways video is used is apparent in words like:

The above figure shows four main kinds of videos on the edX platform:
a.) a recorded classroom lecture,
b.) an instructor’s talking head,
c.) a Khan-style digital tablet drawing (popularized by Khan Academy),
d.) a PowerPoint slideshow.



Not that video content is bad. It’s a portable format, and ideal for showing how thing are done, or processes, or things we could not readily see in person. John Stewart recently shared some examples of video that is none of the edX modalities, what he called Videos in situ:

What I would like to do more of is move into the field, both with faculty and through the lens of student and partner cameras. We were able to do that a bit with the Chemistry of Beer course here at OU. Mark Morvant, a professor of chemistry and at that time, director of the Center for Teaching Excellence, lined up interviews and opportunities to film brewers to walk us through the various stages of making beer.

In the chemistry lab videos, we can see how students can benefit from seeing instructors in their research environments, even with relatively low-production video. Here the technology again achieves that high goal of redefining lecture for online/blended students, taking them out of a classroom and putting them on-site with an expert.

I would love to see more faculty take a camera with them to shoot short instructional videos as they visit field sites, research labs, and historical landmarks.

And this is a reminder that I need to pull out the writing utensil and assemble some of the thoughts on courses being driven by narrative rather than the syllabus, discussed with Bonnu Stachowiak on the Teaching in Higher Ed Podcast as Courses as Stories.

It stems from experiences first done in DS106 like the summer course Martha Burtis and I did situated in a weird summer camp or a 2014 UMW class where I posed as the host of a TV Talk show or later in the narrative Brian Lamb and I built behind The You Show at Thompson Rivers University:

and in NetNarr when Mia Zamora and I had on ongoing series of videos where we were being “hacked” by weird alchemists.

It looks like just an excuse to be silly (that may be a wee bit accurate), but the way video was used here was never for content, but context- to set a flow to connect the course, yet something that one would not lose out on if they did not bother to watch. What it really does is energize the instructors and also always be thinking of keeping the course narrative true to some thread of a plot, even if it is whacky.

I’m not sure if I will ever get this written or if it will make sense to anyone. But I’m going with the title I made up a while ago, “‘Plot-Driven Courses: Escaping from Syllabus Island’ or ‘Why I spend hours creating videos that are not course content'”. It’s in progress, hah!

Not that video as content is bad, but is that all there is to using video? What do you think?

This is my another (and very late) of nine posts for the Ontario Extend 9x9x25 challenge.

Featured Image: Modified by adding a series of “CONTENT” text onto Recycling Old TV a PublicDomainPictures image by George Hodan shared into the public domain using Creative Commons CC0.

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. There is no officially sanctioned checking of due dates for posts here at 9x9x25 HQ! If someone is doing it, they have gone rogue.
    What a great collection of different video uses. I remember the glitching hacked videos from NETNARR. so cool! It would be funny to create a video lecture version of this post.

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