Teacher: Martin Ehrensvärd

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Videos have become essential to Martin’s teaching. He has been teaching the same subjects since the 1990s and has gained a great deal of experience in Semitic languages and language teaching. He has also had to repeat the same lectures many times.

Now he has taken advantage of his experience and made 39 videos on subjects that he would otherwise repeat every year. It was a huge hurdle to cross for him, but well worth it.

He not only makes his own videos, but also uses relevant videos by other people from around the world to inspire and instruct the students between classes.

What was your motivation?

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The greatest motivation for making videos for students was that he would avoid having to repeat himself over and over again. The videos also mean that he can spend his time with the students in a much more constructive way, focusing on dialogue and helping all the students with their questions.

How did you get started?

“It was three or four years underway, and it was quite a hurdle to overcome”, he says. “I was thinking about standing there in a recording studio and having to say everything right when the camera is rolling. You feel like you are presenting to the whole world.” In the end, he adds, he is the only one who notices all the tiny bloopers.

It all started in 2011 when an opportunity for funding arose through the UCPH project “Education at its Best”. Martin took advantage of the opportunity and received funding to have high-quality videos made at UCPH’s ITMEDIA department.

How did it go?

Once he got started, he didn’t encounter many challenges. “It was like a revelation, and now I wouldn’t be without it.” He now makes both high-tech videos and low-tech videos using his own camera or mobile phone.

He has helped colleagues produce low-tech videos on subjects they usually go over every time they teach their courses. “It’s actually not difficult, but we can all sometimes feel stupid and frustrated when we’re trying to figure out how to do something on the computer. Then we need someone to show us the right buttons to click.”

What was the outcome for you - and the students?

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“The students are significantly better prepared when they show up for class. That surprises me a little since they should be equally prepared if they read the course literature beforehand. But they really like videos as a medium for explanations.”

The students have given very good feedback on the videos and on the extra time they create for discussion in class.

“A hugely important outcome has been not having to repeat myself nearly as much, and when I do, it’s in dialogue with the students rather than in the lecture format. It saves me a lot of time that I can spend with each student instead.”

How much time did you spend on it?

It took time to prepare and make the final videos, but the actual recordings of 39 videos were done in two days. It was done in a studio at ITMEDIA with a professional consultant present.

The low-tech videos are much easier to make, and Martin makes them on subjects that he teaches less often. “A high-tech production would be too much work, but whenever I have to repeat the same material just a few times, I do a video. And the students can watch that as many times as they want.”

Now Martin does not have to prepare each lecture, but can focus on answering the students’ questions in class.

Even more

Martin also uses video conferences (Skype) in teaching sessions with people from around the world. “That’s essential to me, and my classes wouldn’t be possible otherwise. We’ve had participants from up to eight different cities from seven different countries taking part in the same live session.”