What matters most for you in a video lecture? | Coursera Community
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What matters most for you in a video lecture?

  • 24 January 2019
  • 21 replies

Userlevel 2
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Hi there! I'm Linlin, a Teaching and Learning specialist at Coursera. Our team is passionate about how people learn and dedicated to use that knowledge improving online teaching. Recently, we're fascinated by the question - what makes a great video lecture. I would appreciate your feedback to help us understand the success factors. At the same time , please feel free to let me know if you have any questions or ideas about online learning. Super excited to connect more with you!!

What matters most for you in a video lecture?

21 replies

Two informative articles, @Linlin
Userlevel 6
Badge +5
What matters most for me?
  • The topics - if I'm not interested in the topic, I won't join the MOOC.
  • The instructor - I watched half of an introductory video for one MOOC where the lecturer mumbled, ummed and ahhed his way through. He hadn't even started the course material yet. If I had been at a Uni class with that sort of presentation, I would have been reconsidering my enrollment. As it was, I could just un-enroll and find a more engaging course.
  • The visuals - whether the image quality is high and the visuals are illustrative. Having completed more than 100 MOOCs, I find it astounding that seven years after their introduction, some lecturers are not embracing technology such as green screens. Why would I want to watch a talking head? Relevant graphics, tables, images, graphs can keep learners engaged and help us remember the material.
  • The audio - whether the sound quality is high and easy to listen to on mobile devices. Obviously, this is critical for today's mobile world.
  • Others - interactive transcript is very useful, especially if I want to re-watch a tricky bit over and over again.
Userlevel 7
I appreciate your elaboration on each of these elements, @Pat B. Intuitively, I agree with your point about the topic being of interest to me. If I had to choose just one of these items as 'most important,' I would choose the instructor. Because I think that actually, I have ended up enjoying some lectures (generally speaking, not necessarily in MOOCs) despite not having a prior interest in the topic because of the instructor/speaker. To me, that is incredibly impressive – if an instructor can captivate me and inspire me to learn – to want to learn – about something I would have otherwise disregarded.
Userlevel 7
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Thank you @Linlin for starting this very relevant topic for all of us taking MOOCs here. I have to say "All of the above" if you wish to include that as an option too to your survey. 🙂 I really cannot choose any of those, one over the other, because everything listed there are important factors for a good quality lecture.
Userlevel 1
Thank you for posting the survey. The topics, the visuals, the audio are all important indeed. However, what really makes the difference between a good online course and a great online course is the instructor behavior and interaction with the learners. What I find interesting is that I feel the same for courses as different as writing classes and programming classes.
Badge +1
what really matters is your content. The tone of your voice, body language, and adequate gestures are important .
A video lecture can often contain so much engaging information that you wish it could stop and let you think. I enjoyed watching the videos of courses where every few minutes the lecture stopped and you answered a question about what you just heard. It keeps you paying attention and gives you that often needed pause to think.
Most important to me is the Instructor. A bit of humor makes it fun too. A video lecture I especially enjoyed and learned much from involved 2 people who interacted and even questioned one another.
Userlevel 4
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I would prefer multiple choices here. However, if I have to pick only one, it would be the instructor. If the lecturer is engaging one, I will watch even topics that are not my special interest. On the other hand, an interesting subject presented by a terribly boring instructor would make me very unhappy and chances are high, I will drop out.
I would also be very frustrated with the combination of an interesting subject and poor quality video (where I cannot see or hear well the speaker). But the latter situation is the easiest one to correct.
Userlevel 7
@Danijela, thank you for taking the time to elaborate on your poll response – I agree with your points.
...just reading @Danijela ‘s response and thinking further about videos. It’s a real challenge to teach someone how to be engaging and interesting. I have had brilliant professors who were so boring when they lectured., Can you ever teach people how to be interesting?
Userlevel 7
What do you think about Judith's question, @Denis? 🙂

@Judith, I'm reminded of this article I read recently by Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng: Learn to Speak or Teach Better in 30 Minutes. He opens the article saying, "When I began teaching at Stanford University in 2002, I was one of the weakest teachers—bottom 13% according to my student reviews. Eleven years later, in 2013, students named me one of the top 10 professors across all of Stanford University. During that journey, there was one short period when my teaching and public speaking rapidly improved, through a process called deliberate practice."

That's some impressive progress! I'm not naturally comfortable speaking in front of others, so this gave me hope for myself. 😁
Userlevel 4
Badge +2
The topics, instructor, visuals and audio. They are all important, as already discussed by the community members.

I would also add the length of each lecture. For someone like me with a full time job, it is very helpful when each lecture is within 15 minutes to watch during commuting time or lunch hours.

Some of the courses insert mini-quizes in the lecture, but I am not a big fan of that. It can be a distraction.

It is also nice to be able to download PPTs used in lectures, so that I can print them out write notes.
Userlevel 4
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I have recently started English courses offered by the University of California, Irvine and I would like to commend them for making really interesting videos. Even tests (quizzes) are fun.:)
They do not make boring videos with lecturers monotonously talking about the subject but rather use a lot of graphic content combined with just a bit of faces of the lecturers. It works well for language courses.
I recently watched a video lecture where it was mostly graphics and charts. That had bothered me because I wanted to see the lecturer,,watch his expresand feel a connection. It’s interesting that you prefered the graphics.
What do you think about using music behind the scenes? Do you think it adds or detracts from the content in a video?
Userlevel 4
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@Judith Did you mean music in the background? If so, I would say that it depends on the course. I can imagine music in some "creative" or positive psychology course but not in i.e. software development. But even in software development one can use sounds, occasionally, to raise attention.

However, it would be really difficult for me to follow a language course where there is a music in the background while a lecturer is talking. On the other hand, it may be good for listening practice because it could simulate real conditions where we need to hear speaker and ignore background noise.

Btw. What was that lecture with mostly graphics and charts about?
@Danijela , I, too have mixed feelings about the use of music which is why I posed the question. It can help describe and embellish many aspects of a video, create more interest and understanding.I can see it in a language course to help describe words and meanings.
The video I was thinking of was just created by an education company, a half hour talk about the use of technology in the classroom.
Userlevel 4
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@Judith @Linlin How about having a contest here in the Community, and learners can nominate courses in several categories ie. best use of videos, the most interesting way of knowledge testing etc.? It would be about the use of tech in the classroom - best practices on Coursera.
Userlevel 1
Hi, @Linlin

Among all the online course platforms, I love Coursera the best and have only accomplished course here. I can tell coursera's "passion about how people learn and dedicated to use that knowledge improving online teaching." I'm also learning to be a teaching and learning specialist in the future. Educational technology is my major.

Content: From my personal experience, I choose MOOCs because I can learn a certain topic systematically instead of searching for the proper materials. The further reading section has reading materials carefully selected by the specialists and that's what I can start with.

Lecturer: I love lecture videos that's created with innovations. When lecturers are humorous and passionate, I couldn't stop watching them and look up to them.

I also like those videos that put thought into their pedagogy design. MOOCs help me consolidate knowledge and can complement what I've learnt before, so it should be efficient from a constructivist perspective. They incorporate engaging questions in the videos and use multimedia materials. Moreover, they should take advantage of online learning and enable learners to do what's unlikely to do in traditional classrooms, such as distance collaboration and peer-assessment. The necessary interaction between lecturers and learners can be complemented by peer interaction. 😀
Userlevel 7
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Hello everybody,

I think that the most important thing to consider in a video lecture is that the content should be useful and meeting learner's needs, and this is related to the instructor, a good instructor will definitely have an insightful teaching style.
Userlevel 3
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What matters for me the foremost is the instructor. A great instructor can engage even in a boring topic, by the way he/she speaks and presents, the storytelling matter more than the visuals - they can be helpful but they are nothing if an instructor is monotonous, has inaudible accent, or has simply bad storytelling skills. Some lecturers I saw are great professionals but they are very bad at presenting the subject, and this is my number one reason to drop a course.
Userlevel 2
Badge +1
Of course the topic must be relevant. But the delivery style comes next. If the instructor reads from a script, I want to run screaming. It is as involving and enticing as a weather forecast.

No teacher dares to do it in front of a live audience (or very soon, will not have an audience anymore), they should not be allowed to do it on-line either. Coursera should ban reading from a script!
Note that, if the instructor writes while talking, then s/he gets the pacing right, it has the opposite effect as reading from a script.