Confessions of a videophobe

I’m now two weeks in to Kevin Werbach’s Massively Open Online Course on Gamification. I signed up partly to find out a bit more about the business view of gamification, partly to experience a MOOC first-hand, and partly to put off more important and pressing work. I approached the course with a healthy scepticism thinking that I would perhaps read through the video transcripts, maybe look at some of the links, and that would be about it.

However, I’ve been very impressed with the course so far, and I’m trying to understand why. The content is pretty much what I expected, good overview, America-centric, rather positivist in its assumptions (everyone born after 1971 sees games as the normal way to learn – really?); but, to be fair we’re only two weeks in so I’m going to save that critique for a later post.

What has really impressed me is the delivery. I’m someone who has always said: ‘video lectures are a waste of time, no one’s going to watch them, why be talked at when you can read in your own time’ and yet, in this instance, I’ve avidly watched all of them. Some more than once. This turnaround has so amazed me that I’ve had to give it some thought – what makes these lectures so watchable and engaging (for me, anyway)? There are a few things possible things that spring to mind: the chunking into short (10 minute or so) segments; the fact you get a tick when you’ve watched a segment; the nature of the content (mainly informational) lending itself to exposition; the combination of talking head and presentation.

Sadly, I think these are all minor contributory factors. I think the reason that I’m engaging with these videos, when I’ve be turned off by so may others, is that they are presented by an American. There, I said it. I don’t know if it’s the accent, the confidence, the production value, or just this individual lecturer, but there’s something much more compelling – and professional – than anything I’ve seen produced over here. Maybe it’s just novelty value. Perhaps I watch far too many US sitcoms.

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