STEMbite: Transforming Video Lessons with Google Glass

By: Andrew Vanden Heuvel

Two months ago, I received Google Glass. No, I don’t work for Google, and I’m not a software developer. I am an online science teacher, and I was selected to receive the high-tech specs through Google’s #ifihadglass contest.  Since getting Glass, I’ve been one of the only teachers in the world to have the highly coveted device. Naturally, I figured I should do something useful with it. So I started STEMbite, a series of video lessons on math and science that I film through Google Glass.

Video lessons have become an essential element in online and blended learning classrooms. They enable instant differentiation of pace and content while freeing up valuable teacher time to work with students most in need of support.  Moreover, the entire flipped classroom movement is powered by video lessons, either those made by the classroom teacher or those found online.
Of course, video lessons are nothing new. They’ve been around since the days of mail-order courses when a VHS tape would arrive at your front door.  But video lessons have morphed tremendously in recent years thanks to YouTube and an endless parade of entrepreneurial teachers who record and share their lecture-tutorials with the world.
I would argue, though, that there’s a problem with our collective approach to video lessons. Namely, nearly all online video lessons strive to teach the content. Why is that a problem? Because we know that students do not learn well through lecture, so they won’t learn well through video lecture either. Instead, students should be learning the content through inquiry, discussion, creation, and collaboration. This should be the case in all classrooms, including those that are blended or online.
Video lessons can and should take a supporting role in the learning process. Rather than explaining everything students need to know, video lessons should be used to motivate and inspire students to learn more. This is precisely the goal of STEMbite. The engaging bite-size videos do not pretend to teach the essential content. Instead, they illustrate how important, exciting, and interesting the content really is – motivating students to want to learn more from their own awesome teacher.

The unique first-person perspective afforded by Glass allows students to see the world through the eyes an enthusiastic teacher like never before. By watching the videos, students and adults alike begin to develop a scientific habit of mind – to see math and science everywhere around them. Moreover, STEMbite videos intentionally show the fits and failures that come along as you try to explore the natural world.

To explore all the STEMbite videos, subscribe to the STEMbite YouTube Channel.

Andrew Vanden Heuvel has spent the past several years exploring a wide range of interests related to science, technology, and online learning. He continues to explore innovative approaches to education through his loosely defined organization, AGL Initiatives.

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