learning with videos

I love to use (and to contribute) to free educational resources. It was and is a big trend to use videos as a ›modern‹ way to get information across. There are quite a lot of these online. Since some time, you can download lectures from several (high-class) universities, later on we got the MOOCs like on coursera and on udacity.

As much as I still like these resources – after being overly motivated I came to use the video lectures very few. I e.g. tried to learn some more about data analysis. I quickly switched to using just the slides and the example data.

Why? Because some stuff I did already know. It was annoying to hear it again. So I needed to find where that-what-I-know ends. Most stuff I did not know, so I needed to find where what-I-don't-know starts. Not too difficult. But as soon as I came to a concept that was new interesting but hard to understand for me I needed to pause – otherwise I hear that lecturer going on about something else. The constant speed of a video does not match the naturally rather variable speed learning.

Thats not surprising, but a good reason for me to prefer (online) books with images, simulations or even short clips (like the classes from CMU or the online stat book). No need to pause, easy to skim.

However, I do not in general think videos are bad even if they are used as the main way to get knowledge across. I love Khan Academy. The videos are very short, so I immediately can choose what I need to know (So like: »I got that log-something here in the equation. What does that mean again?«). Thus I only get interesting content which develops step by step so I get what I need to. Because it is so focused I seldom had the feeling that it developed too fast

So in brief: For lecture style kind of information with multiple concepts of varying complexity I think a text with accompanying material suites – at least my style of learning – far better that a video. For very focused, bit-sized learning, short videos shine.