By Adam Anthony
Finding a carrot to get students to watch videos is becoming a harder task than I had anticipated. I decided to try a social contract style discussion with my students in my concurrent college algebra classes. I asked them, if they were in my shoes, how they would encourage students to watch videos in lieu of classroom lectures. The first of my two classes gave me some decent feedback, but there were two groups of students who could not agree.
One side suggested having them write a summary of the video. I suggested in addition that they include constructive criticism of the videos in terms of their video quality, sound, pacing and marker squeakiness. I also suggested that they ask one question related to the video and content. I told them that their feedback helps me make the videos better and that I could address the questions in class or in future videos. They thought the suggestions were reasonable.
The other group was critical of the idea. I currently have them turn in their written work on the online homework sections, and a written summary of videos would only add to their out of class work. They suggested planting a code word in the video and then asking for that in a canvas discussion post, one that prevents replies from being seen before a post is made. I am not in favor of this idea for several reasons. It does not provide me with feedback on the videos nor does it necessarily guarantee that the person making the post with the code word actually watched the video.
After some boisterous back and forth between the students, I settled on thinking it over. I wanted to hear what the other class had to say and also to keep the door open to other possibilities.
The second class, however, was not helpful in that. I asked them in the same manner as the first and the responses were what one might guess would come from a high school class. Food, extra credit, not having to do the homework, and other nonsense suggestions came up with no serious discussion to be had. I told them about the video summaries and I might as well have suggested adding a term paper. I suppose I should have let them come to that on their own with some knowing hints and subtle prodding. These are skills not very skilled in (yet – growth mindset!). I cut the discussion short and turned back to discussion of the material.
The day ended on a positive note though. An observant student noticed a setting on a graphing program I use in class labeled “Mandelbrot Set Explorer”. I showed them this image of the Mandelbrot Set:
Their response was “THAT is math??” Oh yes it is, and coincidentally the section in which I can make the most use of it is coming up at the end of the current chapter. Under the thumb of this restrictive class, I seem to be forgetting that the ‘cool’ math stuff is still there and still relateable.