Dan Meyer recently wrote a great post about online math websites. Most of MyOpenMath's courses with videos also follow the model of video + exercises, or more often, exercises + video (where the video is there for the student to watch if they can't figure out the exercise). I've never felt too bad about this, since our focus is on supplementing a face-to-face classroom, not replacing instruction.
That said, with more teachers exploring flipped class, hybrid, and fully online models, I want to explore options for making online video-based instruction the best it possibly can. I really like Dan's idea of opening with an initial challenge. But I also wanted to find some way to making the actual video instruction more engaging.
I recently took a few "MOOC" courses through Coursera and Udacity. I noticed that I found the Coursera courses, which often have long blocks of video broken up with fairly stupid multiple-choice questions, fairly boring. In contrast, I found Udacity's courses more interesting. In those, the instructor explains a general concept and asks a question, usually before showing any examples. The student is then expected to take a crack at it. If they can't get it, it's not a big deal, since the next video goes over the solution. I found this general approach much more engaging, and prompts a higher level of thinking vs just replication. It also helps that each video segment was short.
So, I sought out trying to replicate this idea on MyOpenMath. Happily, Class2go, Stanford's new open-source MOOC platform, had some great code written for interacting with YouTube's API. I was able to use this as a starting point to get something working. See here for a a video of an example, or to try it live, visit MyOpenMath, login with username: guest, and open the Demo 1 item. In this example, I am assuming we just finished talking about writing algebraic expressions (so the first question is review), and that I'm introducing students to graphing. Like Udacity, I try to follow the pattern of explaining what we want to do, then ask the student to try it before really detailing how to do the problem.
Next goal: To expand this idea, adding in some of Dan Meyer's "start with a challenge" approach.