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Blackboard style videos
Voiceover: Anant Agrawal of MIT, or I should say edX, has come up with an acronym, which I guess is based, to some degree, on what I'm doing now, which he calls KSV, which very flatteringly refers to "Khan-style videos." He graciously asked me if I could do a KSV, a Khan-style video on making KSVs, so I will make my best attempt at this very meta level task. So, and this is just my guess of why KSVs may resonate with people. The first one is that they're just conversational. If you were to make a video or if you want to make a video like this, I encourage you to talk in the videos the way that you would talk to another human being, the way you would actually have a conversation with another human being, maybe in a tone not too different than I'm speaking right now. If you were in the room with me, I would be talking to you just like this, as strange as that might seem. Now, what is not conversational? There's a couple of non-conversational styles. The least conversational style, and unfortunately, this is the style that we see the most in education materials, is what I would call the highly scripted, highly polished but emotionless style. This is not, let me write this down this way, so not: emotionless. If you want an example of emotionless, go on YouTube and do a search for some concept, I don't know, in chemistry or biology, photosynthesis or something, and you'll find these videos that are very polished and they'll maybe have some computer graphics with mitochondria in them and all things like that, and then they'll have some type of a voiceover during those videos that sound not too different than your GPS device. It will sound, "The next step in mitochondria "is when the ATP gets a new ..." and even though at times very professional, it actually is not what humans beings, or at least in my opinion, what human beings want to hear. They don't relate to it. That clearly does not sound like another human being. You'll see in a lot of education videos where it's clear that someone wrote a script and that they're paying someone or they hired someone else to read the script, or maybe they're reading their own script, but it just doesn't come off like that person is thinking. Human beings as listeners are highly, highly, highly sensitive to what is going on in the speaker's brain. If the speaker's brain is not thinking in real time, if they're just reading something, then your cue is, "Why should I be thinking it through?" or, "Why should I care?" If the speaker is emotionless, doesn't really care about what they're talking about, there's no intonation in their voice, then it's a big cue, especially if it's dense material, it's a big cue for the user not to care too much about it. Now the other, I guess I would categorize as nots to do, or at least that I try not to do, is talking above the student. Be respectful of the student, but don't talk above them. I think most of us recognize what talking above is. This is, "OK, the next step is going to be really easy. "OK, now we can skip those steps and then we can do that, "and then obviously, this is intuitively obvious, "so we can move on to the next," that's usually talking above, and I think most people recognize that that's not always the most helpful thing. Now what's not obvious is oftentimes, when someone is talking above and you say, "Hey, look, just slow down a little bit. "Not everyone is an expert," they go into the other mode, which might be just as bad as worse, which is talking below, talking below the student. This is where it gets really, really, it almost gets condescending, where it's, "The next ... "So, let's do an algebra problem. "The next step ..." and you talk to the user like they're a six-year-old, and one thing that I found is not even six-year-olds like to be talked to like they're six-year-olds. They want to be engaged with where you respect them, you respect their ability to understand things, but you also respect that they're new to the topic, and you're willing to essentially work through things. Now the next big point, and I'll use an appropriate color for this, which is very important on a mental level, is to use colors and visuals. I'll write visuals first, visuals and colors, with the one caveat that it doesn't have to be too fancy, not too fancy. And not too fancy, there's two implications for not too fancy. I actually think, my personal opinion is hand-drawn, I don't know if there is a hyphen there. I'll write it with a hyphen. I personally believe that when someone sees something hand-drawn, it actually resonates with their brain better. They can process it better. They can see it written out. If they just see it in a PowerPoint or they just see something pop up, it doesn't quite connect with their brain in exactly the same way. The other thing is you get higher output, more output. If I took the time to make computer graphics for this little thing that I'm making here, and it's not ideal, I'm obviously overloading the use of this yellow and all the rest, but it would have taken a lot more time. If I had written this script and all these computer graphics, it would be taking a lot more time, and it's not clear to me that it would have been that much more impactful. So, conversational, visuals, and colors. Now, and I'm a big fan of diagramming. I don't know exactly whether I have something to diagram just at this moment, but if I did, I would enjoy diagramming it. The next idea is the idea around preparation. In here, the preparation I'd advocate, or at least what works for me, is very different than what sometimes is associated with preparation. For me, it's very important to prepare your mind, prepare your mind, but once you prepare your mind, and this is nothing to sneeze at. I mean preparing your mind, you might spend a lifetime preparing your mind in order to be able to teach something. But prepare your mind. Make sure it's very distilled in your mind that you have clear visuals in your brain of how this concept can be depicted. I often go on hour-long walks to think about what's the best way to visualize one concept or another. But once you prepare from your mind, prepare your mind, speak directly from it. Speak from mind, and if possible, your heart as well, not to get a little bit too touchy-feely. The thing not to do, and this goes back to the nots right over here, is the emotionless ... I know it does work for some folks, but I'm personally not a fan of scripts. Let me write this this way. No scripts. Scripts are OK. Actually, oftentime, the process of writing a script or writing an outline could prepare your mind. At which point, I would incur you to speak from your mind or your heart. And you often overthink things. You often say, "Oh, I said 'um' once," or, "I mumbled a little bit," but people actually don't mind that as long as they can tell it's coming from you and as long as you're able to articulate it eventually in a fairly clean way. Scripts also, I've seen people who can read a script in a very believable way. I think they are good at letting their brain re-engage with the concept. There is a famous quote. I actually forget who it's by. I have a feeling it was Mark Twain or Benjamin Franklin or one of those characters who say famously, "A lecture is a transferring from the professor's notes "to the student's notes without going through the brains "of either of them." That's essentially what a script is doing. A good script reader, if you've got to read scripts, will read the script but actually process it in their brain, so they'll process it in their brain right there. When they process it in their brain, what comes out of their mouth is something that a student's brain will actually want to process and actually want to listen to. Now the last point I'll make, and this was something that was initially forced on to me, this was initially forced on to me by YouTube. I don't want to make the YouTube logo, but it's the idea of length. It's the idea of try to be as short as possible but not too short. I found that most concepts can be articulated reasonably well in about 10 minutes. If 10 minutes is not enough time, if you feel like you need 60 minutes to articulate a concept, you should be able to chunk that down into 10 or six-minute or eight-minute chunks. What the value of that is, there are several values there, one, as the content producer, especially if you're speaking from your mind, you're much less likely to make a careless mistake in 10 minutes than you are in 60 minutes, but it also becomes much easier for the student to navigate. Maybe the student is only having trouble right over here with Fourier transforms and doesn't have to listen to this part over here, and so they can just immediately move in to that part of it. It's like a good action novel, one of those Dan Brown "Da Vinci Code"-type novels where you feel like, "Oh, I can read the next chapter. "The next chapter is three minutes "or three pages." But by doing that, you reach a milestone, you say, "Oh, I'll read another one," and so to a large degree, the person's mind, since they're able to rest, would be more likely to stay engaged over a longer period of time. There's actually a whole bunch of research to this effect that students actually have trouble, in one stretch, especially with really deep engaging or deep dense content, they have trouble paying attention for more than 10 minutes. Not to be a hypocrite, I realize that I'm at nine minutes and 44, so I will leave you there.