Capturing (and capitalizing on!) a great intellectual resource – the best live classroom-lectures by the best teachers

When a course is sold, or students register online and pay tuition, the proceeds are divided by the instructor, the institution, the videographer etc, and some for prophet 🙂moses being videod cropped

For academic courses which deal with relatively standard material, perhaps even utilizing the same or very similar textbook or syllabus, it is possible to construct a semester-length course of say 15 or 30 lectures by combining the best individual lectures of various excellent teachers/professors.

Videographers/camera installers in each location submit their bids for services and their work is rated. There is not necessarily a need for a camera-person in the classroom if a correctly-positioned camera can be installed, focused on the teacher and board so that no students are captured, and controlled by the instructor (special board and face-recognizing and focussing cameras and services are available). Course-specialists and video-editors who are knowledgeable in the subject (and could be located anywhere) bid as well. Small samples of the course are prepared and are included in the prospective of offerings, and when there is sufficient demand, the editing of the entire course can proceed. The editing will be a collaborative effort with the instructor, who can for example maintain veto power over what can or cannot be used.

An additional revenue source: utilizing some of the videos as teacher-training, even for ‘enrichment summer-courses’ to prepare a prospective teacher for a course they have never taught, or to help existing teachers improve their classroom delivery etc. The courses can be paid for by the institution, governmental education bodies, organizational grants, teaching-unions etc.

Many people may agree that for academic courses a classroom-lectures are more learning-conducive than video-based home-learning. However I would go further – I believe that the videos of the classroom-lectures of a great teacher would have far better pedagogical effect than carefully-prepared lectures by that same teacher in a studio-produced non-classroom video. And so I believe that there is great value to recording the lectures of great teachers even though the editing-work afterwards is a huge task.

Comparison of live-classroom lecture videos over canned for-the-camera ones: There are obvious advantages to a well-rehearsed monologue-lecture taking place in a media-studio with appropriate lighting and sound and whiteboard with prepared written material etc, over a video of a lecture hall with its sound and lighting issues, and live student-attendees who often side-track the instructor with questions. And most instructors will have experienced that sinking feeling at least once in their teaching career when they realize that they are writing an equation or calculation incorrectly or explained something but they know it doesn’t make sense as said. And I have often seen – in videos of my lectures that I said ‘up’ when I meant ‘down’ etc. However, in the context of a video-presentation based on the lectures, all this can be rectified by editing. In contrast however to these removable-by-editing disadvantages, I believe there are significant advantages to a live-classroom lecture-video which cannot easily be edited into a canned lecture-video

There is no comparison between the energy which can be created in a classroom setting and that in the room while a canned for-the-camera ‘lecture’ is being recorded[1]. And the atmosphere in a student-viewer’s room at home as they watch a video of the live classroom lecture will certainly not be the same as it was in that classroom. It would be interesting to know how a student watching a lecture-video may be differently- affected by a canned lecture compared to a video of a high-energy classroom-lecture. My personal belief is that there is potentially a pedagogically-productive psychological effect on a student learning from the lecture-video, especially when it includes clear evidence of the attending students, such as the audio of their questions, and perhaps some side or back view of some of the students (perhaps this has been, or needs to be, studied).

In addition, performers of all types – including lecturers – produce substantially-different (and superior) material when it is in front of a live audience, especially a lively, reacting one, and so I believe the live lectures produced by a really good teacher will be superior to any that they can deliver as a canned video. In addition, from the pedagogical perspective the comprehensibility of a live-lecture presentation is constantly subjected to the reality-check of student questioning; a viewing student may get the feeling that they are participating in the class when a question they are thinking of is asked by someone in the video.


[1] Having taught courses, given public lectures and also performed on stage, I am well-aware of the commonality between teaching and acting. In both it is necessary to engage with the audience, and to do so without losing control over it – especially in a classroom setting where one gives student free reign to ask questions and challenge. Inter-alia, to unite the classroom and provide the students with a sense of a journey, one which is fulfilling and which leaves them with something at the end.

Like any good performance, a classroom involves an energy exchange: “energy passes to and fro between performer and audience …  this energy flow …. manifests in qualities such as enthusiasm, passion, emotional content, and what performers call commitment – believing in yourself and your material and giving yourself over to the performance 100%, in whatever style is authentic and truthful for you.”

Occasionally I will pause very briefly, for an internally-intense second-and-a-half to refocus the topic after a student’s question (and my subsequent response) has hyperlinked us to another issue, or to refocus my own energy. This of course would not happen in a canned-lecture video. However I believe it may actually be a positive element, and I am conflicted as to whether to edit these out. For me to watch these moments on the video of the lecture is a very interesting experience, and I believe that rather than distracting, this might help convey a sense of the intensity to the audience whether in the classroom, or in their own room at home.



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