You have seen them. They are everywhere these days. I’m not talking about just the YouTube ones, that are taken for granted these days. There are educational videos on the MOOC platforms (e.g. edX and Coursera), on Vimeo, and of course, the Safari Books Online platform. Many of these are not free, which may deter some people, but there is value in all of them, to some extent. This value may not be so readily accessible though, as it’s often hidden, just like the signal in the data we are summoned to analyze.
Why look into educational videos and not just focus on books though? Well, books are great but in today’s fast-paced world, they are unable to keep up with the times so much. Even publishing houses that have high throughput often fail to deliver books fast enough for them to remain relevant for long. Of course the eBooks movement tackles this issue, at least partly. However, even eBooks are not so engaging as videos, since the latter have more channels to convey information. Emulating lectures and workshops, educational videos manage to engage the viewers through both visual and audio stimuli, diverting their attention to the most essential parts of their topics. Books can do that as well, if they are well-written, but they require much more concentration. Even if you possess this level of focus, you may not do so everywhere. For example, when you are on a bus or a train, the myriad of distractions may make focusing on a book for long quite a challenge. A video, however, is easier to concentrate on, even under these adverse conditions.
Watching educational videos, however, is not the same as watching a documentary or some other non-fiction audiovisual. The latter are created to be very engaging and even entertaining, to some extent. Educational videos, on the other hand, tend to be more packed in terms of information. One technique that I’ve found useful is taking notes while watching them. Fortunately, you can easily pause the video so that the note-taking activity doesn’t distract you. If you are on the move while watching the video, you can always take a shorter note, perhaps of the time-stamp of the part of the video that you feel requires more thought. This way, you can go back to it when you’re at home and delve deeper into it. Also, an educational video may require some work from you too. Apart from assimilating its content, you may need to do some research as well, on the topics it covers. This may not make you an expert, but it will definitely help you retain the stuff you’ve learned.
Unlike conventional videos that are geared towards giving you an excuse to eat some popcorn or chips, educational videos provide you with a different kind of reward. This may take a while to settle, since assimilating new information, especially know-how, can be a time-consuming process. However, they definitely help you right here right now keep boredom at bay and make the most of the time that you’d otherwise dedicate to less productive tasks. That’s not to say that you need to watch educational videos whenever you are not engaged in some other productive activity, but you can definitely strike a balance between watching an educational video and playing your favorite game on your phone!
If you haven’t done so already, check out my own educational videos on SafariBooksOnline.If you can go beyond my peculiar accent, there is no doubt that your mind will have quite a bit to chew on for that day!
Zacharias Voulgaris, PhD
Passionate data scientist with a foxy flair when it comes to technology, technique, and tests.