My students are not particularly good writers. They need additional advice. But how to give them that advice? It’s an age-old question for teachers: slow the class’s content-transmittal down in order to teach better writing skills and habits, or require out-of-class reading and writing to fill in the gap? And how to provide that instruction?
In the 21st century, maybe there’s a better way. If I make a series of videos, like these below, that cover some of the essential issues of writing instruction, then maybe my students will make fewer mistakes in basic categories, like punctuation and grammar. If a student continues to make the same mistake, I can direct him or her to the relevant video. And I could ask my foreign-language students to show that they understand by adding subtitles in the relevant language. It’s not a bad idea.
There’s a multitude of issues that come with this decision to develop such videos. First of all, they’re free. Potentially, I’m instructing a huge number of people in how to write in a grammatically correct style. That tends to reduce the need for my services over the long haul. Second, who do these videos belong to — me or my school? Or to YouTube? Can I sell them, as a recent article in the New York Times indicated other teachers are doing? Or should I make them — poor quality as they are — available to all my colleagues online?
When is good enough for free the equivalent of quality education? Because with such videos, the teacher doesn’t always need to be present. It’s simply possible for me to point my students at the relevant YouTube link when I grade their assignment, and theoretically (especially if they lost points for missing this fact), they won’t make the same mistake next time. Moreover, I can point students at a dozen other such videos, so if my explanation isn’t good enough, they have others from which they can choose.
Grammar used to be the province of dusty exercise books like Warriner’s English Grammar. How I loathed that massive compendium! And yet now, I wish every one of my students had to work their way through the exercises. Will seeing them online be enough to motivate them to better writing? For some, it may be enough. For many others, I will have to compel them to watch it at least once, and show them where to find it.
Does making such videos make my future teaching career obsolete?