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It’s the Easter holidays and I’m hoping my A-level students are using at least some of the time to revise. I’ve been sending them regular emails reminding them to study and including useful web links when I find them. I’ve recently come across a whole series of A-level Physics Revision Videos on YouTube as well as a single 15 minute video that claims to cover all the electricity in the AS syllabus for the AQA course.


I’m impressed by the guys who made these videos – the videos are clear summaries of the content and must have taken a lot of time and effort to make. However, I’m not convinced that just watching such videos is terribly useful as a form of revision. My advice to my students has been to watch the videos in short chunks and make notes – to write down the information as well as simply watching and listening. I can’t help but feel a better form of revision would be for students to try and make their own such videos – something they could easily do alone or working in pairs, using the video functions that most of them will have on their mobile phones.
I’m keen to hear thoughts from other teachers on this and on any other ways of revising that might be effective.

UPDATE: Thank you to Carol Davenport who has provided this link in the comments to an activity sheet for students to complete while watching a video.

UPDATE 2: Peter Upton has provided a worksheet to complete while watching the above video. Download word document: elec_video_summary.docx.

  • Joe Apr 13, 2012 Reply

    Youtube videos can be an excellent medium to aid revision, the real problem is making sure that the video uses the terminology that is required by the specification that you follow. There are some great photosynthesis songs on the Internet but of they are from the US so don’t use the names for the molecules that are in the spec.
    Little chunks are the best way to revise, 20min bursts on an area that you are revising backed up with targeted questions. Revising in groups is helpful, devising your own questions and testing each other hits those higher level thinking skills.
    I often use the analogy of taking food out the freezer for revision. If you have some meat in the freezer and you defrost it you have to cook the meat before refreezing it so you don’t get food poisoning.
    For revision to be effective you have to ‘cook’ the knowledge, not just defrost and put back in your brain. Reading over your notes or just reading the revision guide isn’t enough.
    Re-write your notes (don’t copy). Make a mind-map. Write questions, Do past papers, Explain the concept to someone else (parents, friends, siblings etc). Make a 1min audio podcast. Make flash cards. Read mark schemes and try to work out the question was.
    Reprocessing the information allows for new synaptic links to be formed in the brain and so strengthen your knowledge of the material.

  • Alessio Apr 13, 2012 Reply

    Hi Alom,
    Thanks for this link, the videos look very useful! I know someone else who makes similar videos for the whole of GCSE Science and you can see his videos here http://www.tes.co.uk/mypublicprofile.aspx?uc=113072&SFBC_FilterOption=8
    I agree it would be very useful for learners to make their own videos too, but I think using these short videos as revision and at home could be very effective if teachers linked other tasks and activities with them. I like your suggestion of getting them to take notes, but I would probably add worksheets, exam style questions and maybe more open tasks like performing a review of the videos like a news report, or writing blog posts about them, etc…
    So, if these videos were used by learners in their own time as independent study, that could free up lesson time to do more consolidation work and creative tasks!
    Alessio.

  • Carol Apr 13, 2012 Reply

    Hi Alom
    I would agree that just watching the video isn’t the best method of using them. There needs to be some engagement. The Learning Skills for Science project has a number of activities which structure learning from aural/visual materials. We made use of one of these in the Nuffield produced Science in Society website. You can find it here: http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/science-society/activities-ethical-issues-medicine by clicking on LSS:watching a film.
    I’ve often found when getting students to make their own films, the final product may be of a poor quality, but the discussion and thinking which has gone into the production is often very helpful.
    Carol

  • Alom Apr 13, 2012 Reply

    Hi Carol,
    Thanks for the link – really useful. I agree about the poor quality of videos students sometimes produced and also agree that it’s the process of making the video that can be useful.

  • pete Apr 13, 2012 Reply

    The video looks to be very good – I shall make it available to those students of mine who are doing a resit of the January Module which contains a lot of electrickery. I am thinking a
    I will produce some partly completed recording sheets – mimicking the one used in the video. Getting students to aim to be able to complete the sheet from memory. (Over recent years I have come to think that many weaker students struggle because they have memorised some key facts without which it is impossible to progress when doing a particular question).
    A few years ago – maybe 5 actually – I did set students tasks of recording short videos on phones/ digital cameras as a means of revising superposition. The aim was for them to explain in a diagram what was meant to happen / then video an experiment of it happening.
    People did standing waves/ diffraction gratings / interference of microwaves etc. Video was meant to be short – 1 or 2 mins max – just showing really key points.
    The videos weren’t very good. However, the process of discussion / thinking of how to explain and carrying out the short demo experiment were valuable. I also thought that the whole business may act as a kind of prompt when facing an exam question.
    Thanks for the link!
    Pete

  • Ian Apr 14, 2012 Reply

    Alom
    I agree entirely; I tell my students regularly that reading is *not* revision, and that definitely applies even to the best of videos or podcasts. However, they can be a great starting point for loads of good, effective revision methods.
    For videos using American terminology, why not have students write ‘English’ subtitles, or script a local version? I like having them create their own resources, so writing questions to test each others understanding. They could create summaries of the content, in a range of formats (Cornell, mind map, bullet points etc) and add anything missing. Once they’ve sumarised, discussing the relative importance of different parts is worthwhile.
    I like the thought of dividing videos into chunks; what you can then do is assign a 2/5/10 minute section to a pair or group of students and have them prepare a summary, test questions (including mathematical ones) with markschemes, as well as clarifications or added examples/explanations. These can then be blogged or otherwise added to a school vle for everyone’s use. If two groups cover each section you can have other students compare their work using the ‘good because, great if’ framework.
    Sorry if I’ve babbled, it’s the middle of the night!

  • Mary Apr 16, 2012 Reply

    A good video, no doubt useful for students following that course. Though as others have said, students must not think that by watching this they are really revising.
    Some great suggestions from the others about how you could use them with students.
    The output looks like my revision notes I made when revising for A Levels myself – summarise a topic on an A3 sheet of paper.

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