Online Tutorials: push through to learn great things

As I write the draft for this blog post I am struggling through a tutorial using Adobe Connect, it is coming from the USA, and quite frankly, I am surprised that I am still signed in. I have discovered that on this internet connection I can stream a YouTube video smoothly, but I can’t listen to smooth audio in this tutorial. Adobe connect is supposedly the best online tutorial software available, and for me it is not working.

At Cornerstone conducting tutorials via Google hangouts, and have really struggled with some aspects of them. At the same time, many students who are not able to come in to campus have found the tutorials to be very helpful. Some have especially appreciated the ability to watch recordings of the tutorials.

What I have learnt tonight is that even when technical things go wrong, we can still learn a lot. An engaged learner, somebody who actually wants to learn, will be able to gain important information even from the glitchiest tutorial.

We have struggled with:

  • Poor connections
  • Not being able to hear one presenters
  • Not knowing all of the technical aspects of this software.

Perhaps it is not our Institution or our software alone that are struggling so much. There is perhaps another systemic issue at play that hampers the delivery of great webinars and online tutorials in South Africa. Either way, here is a summary of some lessons learnt.

What I have discovered through this 1.5 hour struggle:

  • As I am listening to bits and pieces, and seeing bits of slides, I am getting links to valuable content and hearing snippets of good stuff.
  • It is frustrating that the audio comes and goes, but I am able to have a space to think and work while this lesson is going on in the background ever now and then.
  • Even a glitchy tutorial can be valuable, it becomes what the student makes of it.
  • Visuals communication is very important when presentation is not smooth.

Some important resources and ideas that I have found as a result of this:

Stay tuned for the next few blogs based on important lessons I learnt through this seminar that went so badly.


What I learnt while making movies

Ok, so I wasn’t really making movies. What I have been doing was making videos. I have learnt a few good lessons here.

The idea is that we want to make instructional videos that are engaging for students. I want to make sure that students feel like they are being spoken to, that they feel like this video is made with them in mind. I also want to make sure that they see the need for this video that I am making.

So, understanding that I don’t feel like I have achieved this yet, here are a few lessons that I have learnt.

1) Keep it short and simple.

Unless your video is AMAZING, students will not be able to stay focused for very long. So make sure that you only include the essential aspects of this video in this video. It is very easy for us to keep rambling on. If you need a follow up video, then make a short potent follow up video. Students then have control over what they watch when, keeping them more focused and more engaged.

2) Be well prepared.

Sometimes you can get away with being a little unprepared in a classroom. When you have students in front of you then in conversation you can work with them, you can correct yourself, etc. A video is less forgiving. Know what you want to say before you start. Know how you want to say it. Maybe even know what facial expressions you want to use at what parts. If you want to use pictures or slides, then make sure that you have them prepared beforehand.

Practice what you are going to do and say beforehand so that when you get to doing it you know the flow well, you can then focus on connecting with the students on the other side of the camera.

3) Have a script.

Part of the preparation process is writing a script. This, firstly, helps to make sure that you stay on track and say what you want to say in the best possible way. A script also helps video editors to do their job quickly and effectively. You will be able to know exactly where you made a mistake and you will be able to go back to the exact point where you went wrong. You will be more likely to get your grammar correct and you will be more likely to say those key phrases that you want to say.

Practice then allows you to work through your script in a way that is fluid and natural.

4) Be friendly towards any tech guys that you are working with.

If you make their jobs pleasant and easy then they will make you look as good as they can. A video editor will do his job for a person that is difficult to work with, but they are likely to go above and beyond for a person who is good to work with. They will be happier doing the work, they will then do better work, and finally you and your students will be happier.

5) Have fun.

For more insights see the follow resource, or find your own and post them in a comment.
Best practices for using video in e-learning

PS. Watch what you wear.

  • Stripes don’t tend to work so well.
  • Big swinging jewelry also doesn’t work so well.