The Learning Cycle and Design Rationale for Short Circuit Videos

Shane Oberloier's picture

As the Summer is winding down and the Fall semester is approaching, I'm beginning to think more about how I teach. To start practicing, I've started to produce brief educational videos called "The Short Circuit". The idea is for the videos to be short, instructional, (reasonably) well produced and yet frill free. My intention with the short circuit videos is to cover many topics in electrical engineering, but also keep the material connected. I've identified my definition of "The Learning Cycle," which I'll seek to implement in every video:

Here's a step by step breakdown:

  • The student knows something: Identify something that the student knows and examine the rules of it.
  • A new problem is presented: Choose a problem that is closely related to the pre-requisite knowledge that was reviewed.
  • A new, connected concept is introduced: Present a new concept, that builds off of the pre-requisite knowledge, and follows the same pattern as what was previously presented
  • This concept is applied to the problem: Either show or explain how this new concept fixes the presented problem - giving resolution to the learning experience.
  • The learning is validated: (This is hard to pull off in a video) Provide an opportunity for the student to validate that they understood the new information.

When a student is learning something, they are literally making new neural connections in their brains. It's ALWAYS easier to build associations off existing connections; that's why metaphors can be so powerful in explaining new concepts.