Ever have a difficult time learning something? A lot of students suffer every day from the “One size fits all” model used by most educational institutions in North America. Teaching is a lot more complex than people think and educators can fall into the trap where they assume students aren’t learning because they are doing something wrong. The truth is that everyone learns differently, especially in our day and age. The traditional classroom model might as well be broken, especially in a society that is becoming increasingly interconnected by electronic means, yet we are forced to attend a physical classroom with examinations to ‘measure performance.’ Children are growing up surrounded by electronics with on the spot gratification of information whenever they want. So its easy to see how sitting in a classroom for 6-8 hours a day listening to someone lecture can be counter productive. The alternative? Online resources, more specifically, video lessons.
I grew up doing horrible in all my classes. Ever since kindergarten, you would often find me in remedial math or English classes. I was told I had a learning disorder, and for a short while I beginning to believe it myself. What a lot of young students face, is the inability to learn the way that the material is presented.
I started programming when I was 10. At first with some basic HTML, and afterwards I progressed to other languages. I would download instructional programming videos in a horrible 320×240 resolution, and mimic what the instructor was doing. I would re-watch the video again, only this time I tried to understand the conceptual aspect. At the age of 16, I had dabbled in more programming languages than I can remember, yet I was failing my basic algebra classes. I came to the realization that at the rate things were going, I had to be a self learner if I wanted to do well on school exams. When college came around, I decided that it was time for me to pause programming and test my learning skills. First semester was an adaptation period, I had 8 am classes, and a horrible 2 month cold so my grades were mostly B-.
The following semesters, I started studying for my classes the way I studied programming. I would scour YouTube for instructional videos on accounting and biology, and learn from them. Suddenly I was getting straight As and I didn’t even have to go to class. What did I learn? That the way classes are structured doesn’t take into account a students perspective of learning, and instead focuses on a standard one size fits all model, which does not work for me. I am naturally curious, so when I do go to class, I end up questioning the material that is being presented, and ultimately not learning things that I will be tested on. I want to know why A = B, not just that it does. Of course there are time constraints to go fully in-depth in a subject, which is why I find online video lessons the best. You can learn in your own time, on the bus, in bed, and even in the shower.
Alternative methods of teaching are being adopted by big educational institutions, and some are even offering degrees for an online education. MIT offers free online courses, which in comparison to the programming classes that I took at a four year University, offers a lot more in both content, assignments, feedback, and flexibility.
I would like to focus on the multimedia side of online learning, more specifically videos. Video learning has a lot of advantages on top of a traditional classroom setting:
- Can be free
- Choice of instructor
- Learn at your own pace
- Follow along with the ability to pause and skip sections.
There are free and paid services, including Khan Academy which makes use of Youtube, and Lynda.
Khan Academy has more than 3,000 Youtube videos, allowing you to “learn almost everything, for free.” Some colleges have explored recording the lecture and putting it online for students to review, or for those who couldn’t come to class. I have had a few classes that took advantage of this, and my experience was fantastic.
Walter Lewin, a famous MIT professor has become a YouTube sensation with his wacky, but very entertaining teaching method. Check out the video and judge for yourself. By searching Walter Lewin on YouTube, you can view his full physics lessons.
https://www.khanacademy.org offers thousands of video lectures.
Here is a list of popular Youtube educational channels: