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Lessons on format from my trash can


 Here’s what I’ve learned about format from making videos.  These lessons come from the videos you don’t see on YouChem Tutorials.  They are the ones left on on the virtual cutting room floor, AKA “Trash” on my desktop.

What does work:

  • Black and white color scheme with color as highlight
  • White background
  • A limited/simple color palette
  • Limited content displayed on each slide
  • Clear format for all presentations with the topic written at the top 
  • Under 10 minute length

Here are the reasons why:

Color Scheme:   I like nice clean presentations but I also wanted to do with Doceri what I can’t do well on a chalkboard.   Color is something that Doceri does well.  There is a whole palette of pen colors I can use, different sized pen options.  I went a little crazy at first.    

What worked:  I was a bit disappointed to learn that a "boring" white background, black pen color looked best.  I use this for all text and save color for illustrations of items I really wanted to highlight, drawings or diagrams. 

Why?  I tried a black background just like a “chalkboard” but the number of colors in doceri that show up on a black or grey background is limited.   The contrast of these   bright colors (light yellow, pink, blue green) on black tends to wear on the eyes.  White with black might seem boring, but what is important is clarity and a simple color scheme worked best. 

Other important color issues:  

Color blindness.  I wanted to be conscious of red/green color schemes.  Doceri has a lot of colors other than these and I shy away, even when there is a  standard color scheme in place (red/blue color scheme for acid-base chemistry for example).   

Overuse of color:   Too many different colors on a slide removed the impact of having many colors available.  My first videos used a different color for each new statement on a slide, or different colors every time I gave a new example.  The contrasting colors stopped having meaning and it was better to use color sparingly.  The black text on white background with colors only to highlight helps make the use of color as an accent more meaningful.

Presentation organization:   My first videos had a lot of writing on each slide. The screen can get busy and cluttered making it difficult to sort out important points.  Also more writing takes longer to explain and narrate.  This got me into trouble with the 10 min limit.

Presentation standard format:    It took a conscious effort to free myself from a “powerpoint” style of presentation.  I'm still not free. Even in my lectures on a real chalkboard (or on this blog), this technology has bulletized the world and standardized the "appropriate" way to format presentations.  I’m still working on thinking outside the box and bullet.  I’ve kept the “Title” format of the slides with the main topic of the tutorial on the top of the slide because it makes it easy to locate and browse videos on YouTube.

Presentation length and scope:  The goal for this project was to provide bite-sized chunks of information.  One skill at a time to break things down for students into little bits they could view as they worked their homework. This is not easy. But developing the standard style and being strict on clutter helps.



short timelines and TLOs

If you think of each youtube as a TLO (Teaching and Learning Object), a virtual object focused on one learning task, then another advantage of keeping them short is that they can be repurposed into multiple lesson plans by even different courses. IF they are too long, then they become more focused on one lesson plan and less adaptable to other lesson plans. In a sense, once you reach a critical number of TLOs on your youtube site, different lesson plans could be produced by the choice of TLO utilized.

Another way to state this is if you change textbooks the order you synch your Youtubes may change and that is possible if each TLO is focused on only one specific learning task, but if they are longer and take the form of a lesson plan, they would have to be redone.

Thank you for sharing your work with us.