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Re: use of videos in class

I see student's inability to deal well with videos as a 'learning defect'
or 'learning disability' and something we as educators need to deal
with. The world of 'multimedia' {whatever that actually is} relies on
students being able to assimulate visual, audio, and written
material--all at the same time.

I've used video materials in all my classes for the 16 years I've been
teaching--with varying degrees of success. The earlier comment about HOW
students watch video material IS, I think, quite correct--it is just
background noise in their lives. HOWEVER, all the other techniques that
have been listed CAN HELP teach students to view video material in a
'studious' manner.

I use FULL LENGTH programs (in 1 or 2 labs each semester). Lately I've
been using the 2-HOUR!!!! _After_The_Warming_ by James Burke as a good
scientific, political, and social look at global warming. I have students
write a 2-page reaction paper after viewing the film. Their papers
indicate clearly that they CAN pay attention (to the overall themes) and
CAN comment quite intelligently on the film. HOWEVER, quizzing them on
even very IMPORTANT DETAILS, shows that they don't seem to 'get things' at
that level. The particular film in question is really a two-part program
where at the end of the first part 5 minutes are spent discussing the
fossil remains of a certain flower found in the ice cores from Canada.
The existence of this flower at that time (10,000 years ago) is evidence
of an extreme cooling (caused by a sudden salt dillution of the North
Atlantic) that dropped global temperatures 10 degrees (F) in the space of
70 years! During the pause between parts--I ask the students what the
significance of the flower was (the episode is subtitled 'THE FATAL
FLOWER') and for the last three years NOBODY has been able to
answer--without extensive prodding!! Still, the reaction papers ARE GOOD
and students stay awake (they are actually interested in this stuff).

BTW: Other videos with which I've had some success.

The Ring of Truth--Change--Philip Morrison {'conservation laws'}

The Day the Universe Changed--Infinitely Reasonable--James Burke
{Historical overview of our ideas about motion from Aristotle to Newton}

NOVA--What is Music? ('scientific' look at many aspects of musical sound)

NOVA--It's About Time--Dudley Moore A GREAT review of physics ideas
about TIME including the beginning and end of the Universe, entropy,
relativistic effects, world-time lines, etc. UNFORTUNATELY--NOT
AVAILABLE--I've recently checked AGAIN with NOVA, but no-go.

I've also used Burke's CONNECTIONS series (The original 50 minute
episodes--I don't like the newer 25 minute versions as instructional
tools--too much like MTV and too little coherent content). The FIRST and
LAST episodes of the original series are VERY GOOD for use with a
'Physics and Society' or 'Technology' type course.

A couple of the 'COSMOS' episodes work OK but I had limited success there.

For What it's worth:


Richard W. Tarara Updated software (3-15-96) now available
Department of Chemistry & Physics
Saint Mary's College