Teaching Technical Skills

Students are often asked to synthesize a mix of broad, foundational concepts and specific, highly technical ones. Visual storytelling is an effective method that allows for both the big picture and the details. The story becomes a conceptual framework giving shape and meaning to the more granular, technical aspects of the instruction.

In this video for a social media analytics course through the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue, the faculty developer, Sorin Adam Matei, walks students through complex ideas like the Pearson r correlation while grounding them in recognizable real-world examples. In this case, Matei uses the very social-media relevant topic of cute cats to illustrate the point he’s making.

One way to help students engage with and understand those technical concepts is to teach them in the context of a story.

At just under four minutes, this video manages to give a high-level overview of key concepts and demonstrate tools that the student will master later in the course, all while keeping students engaged using a cheerful, modern tone. Students are learning about statistics, yes, but they’re doing it via a humorous video that makes room for their interest and participation.