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When he's not teaching, John likes to explore other countries in Asia. Here he explores Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Experiments in E-Learning: Creating Video Lessons

In the face of the current pandemic, Chatteris’ own Aarohi Narain speaks to one of our tutors, John, regarding his transition from face-to-face teaching to online activities…

Over the past few months, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the world of education across the globe. As teachers and learners contend with this new reality, many important questions have been raised: how can educators strive to engage students when the classroom goes digital? What strategies may be used to overcome the digital divide?

In Hong Kong, face-to-face classes have been suspended since the Lunar New Year break in late January. As a result, primary, secondary, and post-secondary students alike have had to adapt to modes of online learning.

John, an English tutor in our post-secondary programme, has utilised an innovative method to keep students plugged in: creating short video lessons. So far, he has created over 60 videos delivering information not only about the English language, but also about his cultural background and previous experience. These videos are subsequently posted on social media pages where students can access them easily.

When he's not teaching, John likes to explore other countries in Asia. Here he explores Angkor Wat in Cambodia
When he’s not teaching, John likes to explore other countries in Asia. Here he is at Angkor Wat in Cambodia | Image by John McKiernan

“Originally the videos were around 3-5 minutes based on other lessons or workshops I had planned. Each short video would cover one small aspect of each workshop topic with multiple videos eventually covering the entire topic of the workshop,” says John. “At first, I just wanted to help students who were having interviews or IELTS exams by giving them tips.”

However, since then, the content of the videos has expanded in scope. While some of the videos tackle fundamental grammatical points, others might showcase elements of Irish culture, drawing from John’s own background. 

“The video content is up to me to decide. I create a rough monthly timetable of what topic each video will be about. Some of the videos are purely academic, whereas others are more fun and I share different cultural traditions with the students,” John asserts.

The process of creating these videos can be quite fluid in nature, and coming up with a new topic each day demands creativity and insight. Another challenge, in the case of online video lessons, is understanding how the material is being received by students when there are no nonverbal cues.

“The main issue is there is no way to tell if the students don’t understand something or have questions for you to answer. It is much easier when you’re there in person,” John acknowledges. 

Despite the challenges, the response has been positive. Students and staff appreciate the initiative, and John hopes that the videos will compel English learners to seek out more opportunities to develop their proficiency and vocabulary. 

“I hope that the videos will encourage students to watch other videos in English as this is one of the best ways to learn English… there is a lot of useful information for them on academic things like interview preparation and IELTS exams. Besides that I hope that the cultural or more fun videos can spark an interest in some students so that they may watch other similar videos on YouTube to help improve their English further,” he says. 

“E-learning might be a very useful gateway for students to do more independent learning in the future.”

Interested in teaching in Hong Kong like John? Click here to find out more about our opportunities.

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