I recently saw a YouTube video that reminded me of the saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words." The video is a simple screencast-o-matic production of an instructor showing his students how to create a table in a Microsoft Word document as part of the requirements for an upcoming assignment. (You can see the video here.) The reason that the video struck me was not that it was the best such video that I have seen, or that the process being demonstrated was so complicated. In fact, the video was longer than is ideal (it runs for more than 9 minutes); it hasn't yet been captioned; it did not include any highlighting, magnification, call-outs or repetition of key ideas; and it was explaining what to some students would be a very basic technical process. The reasons that it struck me as noteworthy, though, are that it was the type of authentic, spontaneous elaboration of an assignment that many faculty do regularly in their onsite classes, it utilized a free technology that is easy to use, and it almost certainly would be very helpful to some students--especially those who otherwise are being left behind by the digital divide. Collectively, these reasons caused me to ask myself (for at least the 100th time, and with some degree of disdain in my inner voice) "why do we still have some faculty who don't create video instructions for their assignments?" And then, I started thinking about some of our excellent faculty who fall into this category and some of the reasons that I think that they may not yet have created video instructions for major assignments. I suspect that among the top reasons are, "I'm not sure how to get started," and "I just haven't gotten into that routine." So, in case those are the reasons that any of the faculty with whom I work would give, I sent them all a very brief spontaneous email with a link to the video, a link to Screencast-O-Matic.com, and the suggestion that they consider creating just one such video.
I don't know yet whether my email will have any impact at all, but at least I know that I gave them one more invitation to build a bridge for our students who are being left behind by technology. And for those who actually watch even part of the video, I hope that I reminded them--as I was reminded--that video instructions are far more helpful than text-only instructions and are just not that difficult to produce. I'm curious, though, what you all do to encourage faculty to create video instructions for assignments? Have any tips that have been particularly effective?
Update #1: By the time that I finished writing this note, I already had received a reply back from one of our newer faculty members who was thanking me for my email and promising to create her first set of video instructions. I know that it is a small victory, but some days--like today--that is enough to make me smile.
Update #2: I just read a recent Inside Higher Ed description of a study by Lauren Herckis in which she identified the top challenge to faculty trying new teaching techniques as making sure that they were "not an embarrassment to [themselves] in front of ...students." I suspect that this is a very important reminder to many of us (instructional designers) who spend so much time with innovative teaching ideas that we may forget the fear that can prevent otherwise highly competent and highly accomplished people from putting themselves in the very vulnerable position of being a novice in public. Thanks to Laren Herckis, Inside Higher Ed, and the Twittersphere for bringing this article to my attention for this reminder.