Science teacher tests teaching through YouTube videos

Simran Devidasani

The bell rings as science teacher Kavita Gupta’s AP Chemistry students enter the classroom the afternoon of Jan. 14. They resume their seats and pull out their pens, pencils, and notebook paper.This day was different.

Instead of preparing to take lecture notes from a Powerpoint presentation on Chemical Kinetics, the students are already prepared to solve problems on the new material.

Chemisty teacher Kavita Gupta reviews her website for her AP Chemisty class. Since Jan. 13, Gupta has been dividing in-class material through video podcasts, which students are expected to view as homework. Photo by Simran Devidasani.

On Jan 13, Gupta adopted a new teaching style through which students are expected to learn and review concepts at home through a series of her Youtube videos she uploads to her website.

“What generally happens around this time of year is that the content itself is not very hard, but applying [the concepts] is the problem,” Gupta said. “There were so many different types of problems that I felt like I didn’t do my students justice when I would go over concepts in classrooms, because there was never enough time.”

When Gupta attended the annual AP conference in San Francisco the summer of 2011, teachers there were already talking about how they had transitioned to a new system of learning at home and practicing in the class, which they found to be handy. After discovering this new method of teaching, Gupta decided to experiment with videos to enhance her students’ learning.

When a district technician heard about Gupta’s desire to switch to teaching through such videos,  he offered to teach her how to operate the technicalities of it, such as how to upload the videos online.

“Once I got a hang of uploading videos, I was like a kid in a candy store,” Gupta said.

Gupta also realizes however, that with this method comes responsibility on the part of the students, as she is entrusting the students to actually go and watch the videos. The way she makes sure that they are watching is through mini quizzes that she holds, or as she calls them, “understanding checks.”

“Is it a great strategy on its own? No,” Gupta said. “But many aspects make it a [good way to teach], such as student responsibility. They are AP students so I am sure they work hard, and the type of content that is there to teach. That is why this method works.”

Though Gupta has explored the possibilities of video teachings and is content with it, she has still not completely switched over to this method. Slowly transitioning, Gupta refers to Powerpoint slides every now and then and assigns surveys to be ensured that her students are doing well with this method.

In an anonymous survey by El Estoque, 81% of the 70 students who responded said that this new teaching method was working out well for them.

Though Gupta will continue with this format for the rest of the school year, she is unsure of the format of her future classroom lessons.

But from where they stand as of now, it is likely that these podcasts will continue in the future.