Thursday, April 12, 2012

El Videos?

{Don't miss our nomination period to nominate your most attractive physicists}

OK, I had a chuckle, or several chuckles, while reading this article. It is a report on using videos as supplements for students at the US Air Force Academy. What got me to chuckle was the effect of doing their own videos on not just the students, but also the instructors who had to appear on those videos.

Additionally, instructors both teach what we know and impart who we are; therefore, we also preferred an approach to EI Videos that would promote officer development as well as academic success.Since the goal is to develop character and not just teach academics, most EI Videos include a brief introductory vignette, a 30-120 second segment before the pedagogical portion encouraging cadets to form better habits, pointing out the military or practical applications of the topics being discussed, and/or sharing personal experiences related to the topic or the training process.  One of the cadets' favorite vignettes is an instructor attempting dance moves from “Saturday Night Fever” and then admitting, “When I try to dance,I look like a dufus –because I haven't practiced.”  The vignette closes and transitions into the example problem with the admonition that without practicing the homework problems, watching EI Videos won't make them any better at math than watching “Dancing with the Stars” will make them a better dancer.  Other vignettes feature an instructor with a barbell encouraging, “The math class is the weight room for the mind . . .” warning against “Five frequently fatal freshmen physics fantasies”[3]or holding a precision rifle and explaining the importance of mathematics in the profession of arms which is about “putting projectiles on target.”  Some example videos have been uploaded to YouTube, because a lot about the vignettes is hard to explain in writing, but easy to perceive.

Detailed production tips are described in the appendix.  None of the video instructors have been terribly excited about how they look and sound on video.  The camera adds 20 pounds and seems to magnify every wrinkle and mannerism, every “um”, “er”, and pregnant pause while one collects a thought and considers the next phrase.  Confidence and improved ability come with practice.  We have learned to get over our vanities and get the job done putting well considered solutions on video.  Teaching on video is a great tool for breaking bad habits and smoothing one's presentation.  One video instructor lost 30 pounds to better present a good example of lifelong fitness on camera and in the classroom.  The path to growth is jumping in and trying it. 
That's funny! And oh, the videos seem to be quite effective as well! :)


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