Over the past ten years, I've written hundreds of scripts for explainer videos and if there is one thing I've learned, it's this: the act of writing the script and trying to explain an idea for others teaches me more about the subject than anything else I can do. My understanding doesn't become clear until the ideas in my head make the jump to the script, where I'm forced to present them logically.
This process of writing explanations in order to understand them better is also known as the Feynman Technique. Richard Feynman was known as The Great Explainer thanks to his talent for transforming complex scientific information into easy to understand models and ideas. The 1.5-minute video below summarizes the technique.
For a new study in Applied Cognitive Psychology researchers led by Aloysius Wei Lun Koh set out to test their theory that teaching improves the teacher’s learning because it compels the teacher to retrieve what they’ve previously studied. In other words, they believe the learning benefit of teaching is simply another manifestation of the well-known “testing effect” – the way that bringing to mind what we’ve previously studied leads to deeper and longer-lasting acquisition of that information than more time spent passively re-studying.
They found the students who performed best at understanding and remembering a new subject were the ones who learned the subject and then taught it to others.
Why does this matter? Because anyone can use this practice to increase their understanding of a subject. Studying is great. Taking notes is helpful. But if you really want to understand and remember a subject, explain it to someone else. Or, simply pretend that you're writing a letter or video script with the goal of explaining it clearly.
We recently created a new "Study Skills" category in our video library. Our goal with these videos is to provide educators a quick and effective way to introduce and explain important skills related to research, media literacy, intellectual property and more.
Papers and articles are often a mix of ideas from different sources. By thinking through where ideas originate, we can understand what needs a citation. This video guides viewers through three types of ideas found in papers and explains how to use citations responsibly. It teaches:
Why common knowledge and the writer’s ideas don’t often require citations
Why other people’s ideas deserve special treatment and often require citations
Why citations matter and what role they play in writing and research
How in-text and full citations often work together to make reading easier
Why citations are a service to readers who may want to learn more
Now that school is cranking up again, we're set to publish a series of videos that will help make up a new category for Common Craft: Study Skills. In short, we want to help your students and trainees build information literacy.
When it comes to credible sources of information, peer reviewed articles set the standard. That’s because the peer review process is designed to make credibility a priority. This video explains the concept of peer review and how it applies to research and what we understand about the world. It teaches:
Why credible, trustworthy information is essential
Why articles published in peer reviewed journals are more trustworthy
How the peer review process works
How “peers” evaluate articles and ensure integrityWhat makes peer reviewed articles different from other sources
If you've worked on a team at work or at school, you've seen how projects can evolve into chaos. Our goal with this video (recommended by Common Craft members) is to outline the basics of how projects are managed by professionals. Using their techniques, almost any project, at school or work, can be more efficient and effective.
This video follows the story of a team who works together to build a prototype for an upcoming meeting at work. Thanks to a project manager, they are able to align their work efficiently and complete the project with limited time, budget and resources. It teaches:
Why project management matters in getting things done
How project managers help plan and align the team’s work
Why project scope (time, budget and resources) matters
How project managers work with stakeholders
How the basics of project management can be applied to other types of projects.
When it comes to research, search engines are not enough.
Waiting just out of their sight is a world of valuable resources called the Hidden or Deep Web and understanding it makes research more effective. This video is perfect for schools or libraries who need better ways to teach research.
What it Teaches:
This video is designed to highlight the major differences between the normal web sites we see in search results and the databases, services and websites that are found in the Hidden or Deep Web. It teaches:
How deep web resources are different than public websites and search results
Why deep web resources don’t appear in search results
Why deep web resources often require special permissions or payment
Where to find free access to the deep web
How the deep web is used in research and everyday situations
It's back-to-school time and we just published a video that's perfect for helping students navigate the wild world of media. It's all about understanding and detecting bias.
Here are the highlights:
Learn how to make ExplainerGIFs like the one above with our FREE GUIDE.
What it Teaches:
Building on the example of sports fans, this video illustrates how bias is a common and sometimes productive part of how we communicate. It also shows how bias can cause problems when it’s hidden or not detected. This video teaches:
Why bias is a common and expected part of communicating
Our big focus this fall is getting the Explainer Academy ready for prime time. For the first time, we'll show you every step we take in making a Common Craft video from scripts to storyboards and production.
In fact, we recently filmed a whole video shoot to document how the videos come together.