Note: This article is also included in the Teaching Carnival (February 2009 edition).
Last year I discovered that Youtube can be a great teaching tool, especially with smaller classes.
I was teaching a field practicum seminar to social work students. By November, I realized that I had grossly over-estimated their core knowledge about social work. I dramatically cut back on the amount of information I was covering, prioritizing depth (integration of course content ) over breadth ( getting a wider range of information).
Four weeks of the course were devoted to models of community practice. The readings went into excruciating depth on each model – I knew this information would all run together for the students. So I reworked the learning goals, deciding that I wanted them to understand the characteristics of the three models, when to use them, and the basic strategies associated with each. That’s all.
In the overview class, I gave them a summary sheet of the three models. Then I showed one video for each model, with class discussion after each one.
The first video was showed a community development project:
The second video showed a social action initiative:
The third video documented a social planning project:
After each video, we discussed:
- what model was it?
- what characteristics of that model did they observe?
- what strategies were used?
The first class was so successful in terms of student engagement, participation, and learning that I taught the remaining three classes the same way. It allowed them to see what community practice actually looks like, rather than reading about it in a book. We also drew applications between the classroom material and the work of their field agencies. Students expressed how much they enjoyed this method of learning about community practice.
My selection of videos was based on a few parameters:
- I tried to use Canadian examples as much as possible,
- Most videos were 3 to 5 minutes (short)
- I tried to find projects related to my students’ field settings (e.g., youth projects, food security, housing)
- A diversity of projects were selected for each model, to avoid duplication of content.
It’s not always easy to get good videos to show in class from traditional sources such as the university library. YouTube provides a new kind of teaching resource that greatly expands our options!
What are some of the ways you have used new media and technologies in your teaching?
© Silvia Straka and A Just Society, 2008