For the Love of Medical Education — examples of great educational videos

I am one of that strange people that has never seen a episode of “Game of Thrones” . Or “Lost”. Or even “Ghost” — the movie… But I have seen hundreds of video lectures. It has started 10 years ago when I found this lecture by MIT teacher Walter Lewin:

I know that quality of this video is not good but remember — it’s from 1999 :) There is also better quality of second revision of this lecture from 2014 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a0FbQdH3dY

My obsession about online education became so huge, that in 2009 I started the video production company Filmpoint. It has grown to more than 20 people and we’ve recorded and edited probably more than a 1000 hours of educational content for clients. I also helped in organization of a few “TEDx” events in Poland.

(No, I don’t have a “big head” and IQ 150. Actually, I’m pretty average guy but I decided to share this personal story with you:)

On May 2016 I’ve started DeeperDive.co — a new online education platform for doctors. We are looking for the best physicians in the world, recording video courses with them and helping other doctors learn in a completely new way.

This article is dedicated to all the passionate doctors who are thinking about teaching online using video. I will present you a few examples of great educational content and hopefully inspire you to join this exciting movement!

Before we jump into examples of the “cool videos”, I would like to introduce you to the two fundamental topics: “Professional Teacher” and “Attention Span”. Without understanding it, you will fail in producing a good online course.

Are you a Professional Teacher?

A Professional Teacher (PT) is somebody who is not only passionate about the topic, but also knows how to teach it and has time for it. A PT knows from experience what is important for the audience and how to captivate their attention. A PT treats teaching as a profession which means that earns decent money from it and dedicates a big portion of a time to prepare good content.

A PT teaches systematically — not once per year during a conference but many times a year —also in smaller groups and when has chance to interact with the audience, gathers their feedback and improves the craft of teaching.

In the medical world where physicians are focused primarily on patients and hardly find time to do anything else, it’s not easy. But possible.

I’ve borrowed this term from Walter Lewin, please listen to this short talk:

Teaching is my life. I consider myself as a professional teacher”.
“If I’m not very well prepared for a lecture than I can’t sleep at night.”
“Each of my lecture I try on three times in real time. I try it 10 days before I give a lecture. Three or four days before. And at 6 am in the morning of the day I give the lecture. So it’s like a performance, it can’t even go wrong.”
“Number of people in the world that watch my (online) lectures is about 3000 / day.
“There are people who watch the lectures to pass the course and there are people who are bored, find new energy and some of them make me cry — it’s so moving”.
“As long as I’m healthy I will teach, until I die in the classroom.“

If you smiled during reading this, you can go to the next question :)

Do you have time to prepare a lecture that will win with a short Attention Span?

Attention span is the amount of concentrated time one can spend on a task without becoming distracted (Wikipedia).

According to the studies by Johnson & Percival (1976), it’s no better than fifteen to twenty minutes. From my experience as online video producer, I think it’s no more than a few minutes nowadays…

It means that if you will not DESIGN your lecture in a proper way, you will bore your audience to death. They will stop watching your video and go watch “Game of Thrones”. Or the “Ghost” movie ;)

“These two graphs measure students’ relative level of performance as the fraction of students paying attention at any time as determined by twelve lecturers over an average of ninety lectures. The level of attention and performance during any lecture shows an almost immediate decline, and at the end of a class period of normal length (sixty minutes) attention is down to a very low level (left-hand graph). Interrupting the lecture for activities, quizzes, or asides helps (right-hand graph), but engagement never returns to what it was at the start of the class. Source: A schematic representation of the conclusions drawn by Johnson, A. H., and F. Percival. 1976. Attention breaks in lectures. Education in Chemistry 13:49–50.” Source: https://www.amacad.org/content/publications/pubContent.aspx?d=1111

If you want to produce online courses, you will have to find a time to design a course that will not only be insightful but also dynamic and fun to watch. You have to split 1–2 hours of lecture into 5–15 minutes chunks and interrupt your talk with graphics, Q&A’s, present both practical and theoretical issues, etc.

From my experience, it takes at least 10–30 hours to prepare good 1–2 hours of video lecture (not counting video production or preparing graphics/slides — actually, in DeeperDive our team is doing it so teachers focus only on the content). If you don’t have that amount of time in your busy calendar, you should leave the project. But if you do, trust me, it will be a great adventure!

Video recording of a lecture

There are many ways to record you talking in front of camera. Besides recording lecture in front of a class, just like Walter Lewin did, there are a few dedicated ideas for online teaching.

First idea is to record yourself in the studio and explain complex topics using a tablet and other gadgets. You can start with slides, than explain something using the tablet, than talk straight to the camera and have virtual “eye contact” with your student:

Of course you can also visualize your talk with tradtional Power Point slides. Here you have a good example by Lecturio.

But, please, for God’s sake please, never read the slides! ;)

Another method is to use traditional whiteboard or even a piece of paper.

Click here to watch: https://moz.com/blog/how-to-create-10x-content-whiteboard-friday

The more advanced way is to use animations to visualize your lecture. However, this form is expensive to produce and not very common.

If you don’t want to record yourself in front of a camera, you can teach using only a tablet. Khan Academy and Udacity will be great inspirations for you.

If you want to inspire you students to take part in your video course, here you have example of a teaser by the one and only Eric S. Lander. I highly recommend his open video course called “Introduction to Biology — The Secret of Life”. Together with Walter Lewin he is one of my favorites life science teachers.

Video recording of a procedure

In medical education, video recording of the procedures and surgeries are probably the most valuable because this is something nearly impossible to teach using traditional textbooks or static photos.

Absolutely the best quality of such recording I’ve found on the platform called JOMI. They start each lecture with a simple animation, then a physician introduce the topic briefly, than he performs a surgery. You see a view from camera mounted on his head (Point Of View camera) + laparoscopy view and sometimes other cameras.

Watch example video by JOMI here: https://www.jomi.com/article/45/arthroscopic-acl-reconstruction-btb-autograft-using-anteromedial-technique/

Animated explanatory videos

Animations are the most expensive way to teach online. It costs 2000–5000$ to produce 1 minute of good 2D animation. 3D animations much more. But animated videos sometimes are very effective in teaching complex things like the anatomy.

Visit TED Ed for more.

Virtual Reality in medical education

If you are crazy enough to play with a future you should play with virtual reality. I believe that within 2–3 years VR technology will be good enough and cheap enough to produce truly immersive educational experiences — your students will feel like they are actually there with you. You can watch first proof of concept of this technology done by visionary surgeon Shafi Ahmed on April 2016 here. Actually, I’ve also watched live broadcast of that surgery and had goose bumps all over my body.

Please visit http://www.medicalrealities.com/vrinor/ to experience the first surgery broadcaster live in virtual reality.

Summary

If you are a doctor with a passion and time to teach thousands of other physicians online, let’s do it. Period.

If you are interested in teaching on our platform DeeperDive or if you are interested in 1:1 consultancy, please write to me: b.rycharski@deeperdive.co. You can also follow me on Twitter, as well as you can follow DeeperDive.

PS In the next article we will dive deeper into preproduction / how to prepare great script of the online course, it will be ready in aprox. 3 weeks. Stay tuned.

PS2 I must confess, I lied at the beginning. Sometimes I watch TV Shows. To be precise, only one — Miami Vice ;)