For the TEDEd page, click here.
I was already familiar with Lars Brownworth’s podcast series, “12 Byzantine Emperors,” so this one really appealed to me. Although reading or listening to words describing is a fairly good learning method for me, the podcasts never could give me a definite idea of what the walls and strategic position of Constantinople were like. This video did that through the visuals. Although they were simple, just colors and basic shapes, the diagrams of the walls and of the defense strategy made the point very well. Their simplicity prevented the visuals from distracting from the words as well. The visuals supported the verbal very well–one of the problems I’ve always had with a podcast, even an interesting one, is concentrating on the words when there are so many other non-related visuals around to distract. Because this video engages two senses (sight and sound), I found it much easier to concentrate on the information presented.
One of the other advantages this video demonstrates that I think would apply to others as well is length. I’m not ADD, but I do have a limited attention span. Even an hour of lecture is tough, especially since I’m a “captive” audience. Shorter videos, which are more “interesting” anyway than sheer verbal, are usually over before my attention span runs out. Longer videos, since I can watch them on my own time, allow me to stop the video and come back later if I can’t concentrate. Since I’m not a “captive” audience, I’m a little more willing of an audience–I can wait to watch the video when I’m interested or wide awake, instead of being forced to attempt concentration when I’m out of it.
One problem I might encounter though–short videos can’t always convey enough information or examples to really “make the point.” Since I already had some background in medieval Constantinople (from the podcasts), I had a context in which to place this video. For something like history or literature, I’m not sure if a short audio-visual lecture can convey all the needed information effectively; but if you record a longer video, you get kind of the same problems you have with classroom lectures.
Any thoughts on how you might employ this for teaching traditionally heavy-reading material (like history or lit) without using just sound-bytes? Or resorting to a long lecture-video?