Meet Monica Thieu, a PhD student of psychology and assistant teacher at Columbia University in New York. Monica has just finished her fourth year of the experimental psychology PhD program. Her research focuses on the way people perceive, assess and categorize various items, such as emotions, a person’s age, etc.
Aside from being a student herself, she also teaches coding for data analysis and introductory psychology courses at Columbia University.
An online whiteboard – perfect for online teaching
It all started back in the summer of 2020, when Monica decided to treat herself to an iPad during the Covid lockdown. She already knew that the following semester would be taught online as well, so she began searching for apps which would help her create content for her Introductory Psychology students. She came across Explain Everything Whiteboard and decided to give it a try.
I realized that many topics in textbooks were not thoroughly covered and suggested to my instructor that we create additional material in the form of videos to help students grasp the topics more effectively. My idea was to create short lesson clips similar to those I had seen on Youtube, complete with animated explanations.
Monica says she was rather quick to catch on to Explain Everything, but she did go through a process of trial and error to grasp the basics of recording whiteboard videos. But once she started creating short clips in Explain Everything, she even opted to use it for her own research, creating whiteboard presentations for assignments.
And soon, her video lessons started to look like this:
Creating whiteboard videos for higher ed students
As a teacher, Monica says it has been great to be able to communicate her ideas on the canvas. When working with slides, Explain Everything has made it faster to work, allowing her to drag multimedia objects to wherever she wants to on the canvas. The process is now much quicker than it used to be when Monica had to pour all of her ideas onto paper.
One thing that I personally have learned through the pandemic is that a really well produced pre-recorded video goes a really long way and that sometimes watching something that’s been pre-recorded is actually going to be better than a live experience.
Monica discovered that using a digital whiteboard made it a lot easier to get participation from everyone, even students who normally weren’t comfortable raising their hands in class.
She also realized that it was much easier to convey complex ideas by presenting them in the form of short animated whiteboard videos instead of assigning students multiple pages of textbooks to read for homework.
Annotations that stick – why a video lesson is better than static slides
Monica says instructors face multiple constraints when giving slideshow presentations. One of them is how much more difficult it is to be precise in when making annotations, which are crucial when presenting, say, the details of specific brain regions. Using a handheld laser pointer or simply drawing arrows with a marker leaves too much room for mistakes.
Monica loves that Explain Everything Whiteboard allows her to make very elaborate annotations to specify exactly which area she is talking about. And then there’s the fact that an explainer video can be watched over and over again.
What students think about Monica’s whiteboard videos
Monica records short videos and shares them with students to watch before a class. They then complete a quiz with questions about the video they watched. Monica admits she was initially slightly worried about the students suffering from tech overload, but the her students’ reactions to her videos have been amazing – she’s received lots of enthusiastic feedback from her students. They also frequently comment on the animations, and how much easier they make learning.
And looking at her work, we’re not surprised! Check out another great video lesson example:
How to create explainer videos like Monica
- Prepare all of the images you want to include in your video. Download or upload them and store them in one place, e.g. a folder, drive, etc.
- Add the videos and other content to the project but keep them outside of the camera frame.
- Record all of the audio for an explainer video before creating any of the animations.
- Toggle the timeline and proceed to edit your recording. Pause the recording when you want to include word animations. Pausing the recording when writing words on the whiteboard gives the video more fluidity and makes them “pop up” in the recording.
- Start recording again and drag in images as the audio plays.
- Use the Undo Tool if you want to delete any changes you made to the recording, and repeat until you are satisfied with the outcome!
Check out this short whiteboard video about clown phobia and the step-by-step explanation of how it was created that Monica provides right after (at 1:30 minute):
Monica Thieu was interviewed by Isabelle Procner-Michelin, the Explain Everything Partner Relations Manager.