The advent of high bandwidth connections and the proliferation of video content across the Web has inevitably led to an increase of educational videos from a wide range of content creators.
Although many of these videos come from credible sources and contain good information, they’re not a true replacement for the classroom experience, but rather a tool to reinforce content taught during lessons. For true learning to take place, online resources need to encapsulate all of the classroom experience, and not simply feature endless minutes of filmed lectures.
What is the difference between filmed lectures and the online learning programs offered today? Today’s online learning curricula use video, but only as one tool of many used to educate students. Many instructional features of a text book, a classroom discussion, and animated or filmed media can all be consolidated into one place to provide a true equivalent for the richness of a classroom experience. That’s the magic of an online course.
Unlike traditional education videos which replicate the formal classroom structure of a teacher lecturing and a student passively observing, well-crafted online courses use a toolbox of techniques to create an interactive learning environment. These elements can include text, video, audio, online demonstrations, diagrams and other educational images. These tools work in concert to take the student from Point A—ignorance of a subject—to Point B—knowledge in a subject—in a coherent, well-defined way.
This system is superior to video alone since not all topics and lessons are most effectively conveyed via video. Online learning is a truly immersive experience that uses the most effective medium for a particular lesson to teach it to the student—whether that be text, video or otherwise.
Today’s online curricula should encourage students to take advantage of additional companion materials such as study guides and references. The curricula should also provide review, assessments, quizzes and feedback, which makes them capable of assessing students on their progress in the course and their retention of the material, which online videos simply can’t gauge.
Finally, depending on the course provider, there is more than likely a certified teacher available via live chat or other direct connection for the students should they have questions or need assistance. These teachers may even lead sessions using collaborative tools for additional instruction.
Although online video is a useful tool in teaching, it’s not an online course in itself and should not be the principal method of instruction. Only true online courses can provide or surpass the equivalent of the classroom experience, convey the material through the most effective medium, and ensure that the student understands the material, or gets help if they don’t. And that’s something a video simply can’t provide.
David Pelizzari is Vice President of Content and Curriculums for K12, Inc, a Fuel Education content partner