Earlier this year, I watched the first video in the FastAI Practical Deep Learning course series ^1. I should continue with this course as there is so much that I want to learn about deep learning, especially in the context of computer vision and modern NLP. During the first video, the instructor, Jeremy Howard, imparted two teaching techniques that have stuck in my mind ever since:
- Leading with a demonstration of an end result to show toward what you will be working and;
- Using green, yellow, and orange cups as a method of guaging the extent to which one's audience is following a lesson.
The first point was at the forefront of my mind when recording YouTube videos earlier this year and is something that I now realise I should apply to short-form video notes, too. Carrying on the same idea, I am now adding in more screenshots and videos in my technical writing at the end of the introduction of a piece. I want to show the end result to make it clearer what one can expect to achieve by the end of a guide.
Using coloured cups has stuck in my mind, too. In the lectures, which are pre-recorded but first conducted in a classroom setting, Howard encourages his students to open up a web application ^2 that lets you choose one of three states: green, yellow, and red. This is a digital version of a physical cup system that, according to a thread by Howard, was pioneered by the teacher Dylan William ^3. The video shared by Howard of the technique being applied in a classroom is worth a watch ^4.
The default cup status is green. If a student would like a lesson to slow down or is struggling to follow, they can set their status to a yellow cup. If a student needs more assistance -- a concept explained in a different way, for example -- they can set their status to red.
From a learner's perspective, I like the idea of being able to signal directly to a teacher online that I may be struggling to understand something. Indeed, I wonder how this could be applied to virtual meetings. For instance, if an assignment is being introduced for the first time, could cups help indicate that a break in the conversation may be needed to review current material before continuing? I'm not sure how this would work out, but it seems worth trying.
While the cup system was not immediately applicable to me as a student viewing the lecture after the fact, the idea is still in my head in case I want to use it for a future project. I considered using the cups in my Webmention talk earlier this year, wherein I expected many audience members would not have prior knowledge of the topic. I didn't have time to implement this method in advance of the talk, but I definitely want to try it out one day.
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