I've been going through a few shows for my MCSA 2016 upgrade and I'm facing something I struggle with in relation to ITPro.TV content specifically but in online learning generally as well, and it's this:
I tune out because I don't know where I am or what's happening in the context of the overall picture of what I'm trying to learn.
The approach of ITPro.tv is informal and this works very well as a learning environment as it's unstressful and more conversation-based than other providers that are straight-to-business and information-heavy. I like this and it's why I'm a member, but I recognise that where this approach works less well is the provision of structure – and this is critical in maintaining my attention and helping me learn.
Signposting is often used by teachers to 'pull back' from the specific task we're engaged with right now (this line of Powershell or this setting or this process) to show where we are in the overall journey. This helps keep the audience on track when we start a new subject, when we tune out for a moment during the session and when we're finishing up so we know what we've done and what's coming next.
At the minute, ITPro.tv episodes are introduced by a few minutes or seconds of conversation before we get down to business with a screencast. Signposting more effectively might look like an episode starting with an agenda or checklist that shows where I am in the course, what things we've covered already and what knowledge is assumed, then outlining in a few simple bullet points exactly what we're going to cover in this section. This may not need more time than is currently devoted to this, but the result would be a clearer picture of what's going to happen.
Most ITPro.tv episodes involve lengthy sessions of screencasts, usually starting a few seconds into the video and lasting until a few seconds before the end, often hopping from one machine or system to another and sometimes running into multiple parts for the sake of time. I find it's easy to lose track of where I am in the process or which machine I'm on or why we're doing what we're doing, especially if we're repeating the same task via different means (eg. Powershell and then GUI) or doing it remotely from one machine to another. Signposting more effectively might look like chopping episodes up into smaller parts and referring back to our agenda or checklist for each one. Making that agenda link to the individual sections in the video would be great. For longer processes it might involve telegraphing where we are by pulling back to a checklist or high-level procedure for that process from time to time, showing more clearly which machine we are on at any given point, For multi-part episodes, these could be divided based on the subject or area so a conclusion at a certain point makes logical sense.
In concluding an episode or series of episodes, signposting would look like pulling that agenda back up, showing what we've just learned, underlining the important points ('remember to look out for this on the exam' or 'remember never to do this before this..' etc.) Don't forget, we all learn differently – I do so more visually, so things like diagrams or charts make it easier for me to figure this out and that's not something that is often used on videos I've seen. The ability for presenters to draw on the screen or highlight areas of content rather than just talking about it would be useful.
Ultimately what I need is a 'tell me what you're going to tell me, tell me and then tell me what you've told me' model. I need signposts that I can get back to easily when I get lost and that show me where I am on the journey. ITPro.tv has great content and presenters but I feel it just needs a bit more structure to help me get the most from my learning. Does this ring true for anyone else?