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On the record: video in the classroom

Howard Burton PhD, Founder and CEO of Open Agenda Publishing, talks about the use of video in teaching, and how pedagogy needs to catch up with tech

Posted by Julian Owen | October 24, 2017 | Technology

How does Ideas Roadshow fit into the current technological and pedagogical landscape?

We take a ‘first principles’ approach, beginning with the question, “How can we use modern technology to profoundly enhance the pedagogical experience?” Our research has led us to create a completely new and innovative series of video resources that can be seamlessly integrated in the wide variety of new learning management platforms that have been developed. While we are very excited by the technological potential of these platforms, in themselves they are naturally insufficient to produce profound change to the world of pedagogy. What is clearly needed is to marry those new edtech platforms with equally innovative, tailor-made content.

How is Open Agenda Publishing, creator of Ideas Roadshow, different from other educational publishers? What is your key feature?

We look at ourselves as ‘healthy disrupters’. Joseph Schumpeter famously described the importance of “creative destruction” to any sector that had become stale and overly conservative, and we staunchly believe that most educational publishers are running scared these days, relying on the same old products and approaches while ignoring the obvious transformative benefits that technology brings on the all-important content side. 

To date virtually all the innovation in edtech lies on the ‘tech’ side (typically using new communications platforms), and very little on the educational content side. But the truth is that modern technology offers just as many content advantages as communication ones, particularly in the production of high-quality, engaging video products. They just need to be recognised and seized.

Our mission is to exploit the full potential of contemporary video technology to develop a wide range of uniquely engaging and innovative educational resources that can be married to new edtech platforms to truly revolutionise the educational experience.

What are the pedagogical advantages of live-action video over audio, animation, or printed text?

It is important to state at the outset that video should not be regarded as a replacement of existing pedagogical resources, but as an enhancement. Many existing resources (print, audio) will – and should – continue to be an essential part of the pedagogical experience. But often the problem is not so much with pedagogical tools, per se, but the consequent lack of motivation to use them appropriately. Video, properly harnessed, has two distinct advantages that other media do not:

 - It can quickly convey a sense of intimacy and accessibility to the material

 - It can easily present a spectrum of different views and perspectives

Ideas Roadshow was designed to harness both of these conspicuous advantages of videos, providing students with inspirational background and a unique, real-world context that they wouldn’t ordinarily receive, thereby giving them much-needed motivation to enthusiastically plunge into a subject.

Howard Burton

What are the main skills you aim to develop in students?

Our principal goal is to stimulate the passion for ideas that lies at the heart of each student, together with a solid dose of critical thinking skills.

As any educator knows, the biggest stumbling block to fostering student engagement is finding a way to overcome a lack of motivation, as many subjects are presented in a dry, abstruse way where it is difficult to see connections to more interesting frontier topics, let alone broader issues of societal relevance.

Meanwhile, ‘critical thinking’ is something that everyone recognises as vitally important, but all too often, there are few concrete means to address it. By presenting a wide variety of candid, personal views of world-leading experts combined with probing questions, our resources are naturally geared to forcing students to put themselves in another’s shoes and wrestle with real open-ended research questions, thereby developing genuine critical-thinking skills.

How do these ‘creative disruptions’ fit into the global education sphere? Is Ideas Roadshow something you expect to see become mainstream across the world?

We are certain that, sooner or later, innovation in content will follow innovation in technology – “Ed will follow tech”. This is a necessary condition for profound education transformation and current technology now makes that possible.  

For more information please contact 

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