Monday, February 21, 2011

Totally Awesome Video Abstracts!

This morning I sat down to reed Google Reader and I stumbled across a blog post by John Burk referencing a tweet by Andy Rundquist listing another blog post (I love social media). Anyway the gist of all that social cross-linking is the New Journal of Physics has just launched video abstracts for its articles! It does not look like authors are required to submit videos, but are strongly encouraged to.

So, why am I so excited by this? Well, two reasons really. The first is it gives me lots of ideas for what I can have students do to demonstrate mastery of concepts. Whether it's in my physics or electronics classes. Sure, people have been having students create video summaries/presentations of projects for years. But here are some real world scientists doing it. The ones I've watched are awesome. They can easily serve as a model for students to emulate.

The second reason for my excitement over this relates to the difficulty inherent in reading and understanding real research. I'm a physics teacher and I often have no idea what authors are saying in scholarly articles. So, how can I expect my students to really read and understand the primary literature? These videos offer a window of accessibility for non-physicists. There's a good chance that students will be able to get more out of the actual article when combined with the video. I'll definitely be trying this with my students.

One final thought. What if educational conferences had the expectation that presenters create short 3-5 min video abstract for their talks. How great would that be? I never know which sessions I want to catch. Often just 5 minutes in I realize I'm in the wrong room. It's not that the presenter is bad, it's just the 50 word abstract in the program was too short to really tell me what I needed to know. I think I'll propose the idea for the MACUL conference and create my abstract this afternoon (how come I can't just relax on a snow day?).

Cross-posted to

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