What if textbooks looked like this? Not just as "supplementary materials" or "outside exercises," but imagine showing this (without narration, but with really great music as in this clip on Youtube.
What if bio class looked like this:
- Before the first day of class, have students read handouts - short handouts, almost like field guides - on different components, phenomena, and apparatus in the cells that appears in the video - but don't tell them that - and don't expect them to read them very well, don't give them any quizzes on the material, just let them read it (and some will read it blindly and robotically, and some will complain, and some will frantically attempt to memorize it, but whatever.)
- On the first day of class, introduce yourself (5 seconds), remind everyone that they had read something prior to coming to class, hit the lights, and without further explanation, start the movie (with music, no narration).
- Hopefully by this point most of the students will be going "WHOA! I think that was my part but what was that and how does this work and what are the spiral things poking off the yellow blobs and what was that?"
- Break students into groups according to the reading they did (so that each reading has a representative in each group). Have them go through the video and produce an explanation - or narration - of the clip, as best they can.
- Then have these small groups pair off, with each group in a pair talking through their narration or explanation of the movie to the other group. When that's done, bring the class together, fielding quick questions or discussions for a few minutes if there are any pressing outstanding debates.
- Next, hit the lights and watch the long movie with the narration by the original movie creators, asking the class to note how they explain the phenomena - not that this is a correct interpretation, but that it is a variant of one. Get a little meta afterwards. Ask them about the effectiveness of the movie, the accuracy (and biases) of the "official" narration; encourage them to write to the creators of the movie with comments, thanks, and suggestions.
Olin BioEs: is this the kind of stuff Joanne is into with regards to teaching biology?