Resource: Introduction to Databases2 min read

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I recently put the finishing touches on task DB1, my introduction to databases for IGCSE ICT students. This was one of the first attempts I made at using video tutorials to support student learning with non-basic software – in this case, Microsoft Access.

First time around, there were a few issues with chronology of tutorials (I made a mistake that threw off more than one video), problems with Access wanting an ID field even though the data set didn’t have one, and one or two other little snags that prevented students from being able to work entirely independently.

With the recent upgrade to Office 2016 at my school, I felt like it was about time I revisited the task to improve it. Here are some of my key takeaways when using video tutorials:

  • Keep them short. One video = one task. Where you have a number of subtasks, do one video per subtask. Even if they end up being 10-20 seconds long. The ability to watch, rewatch and watch again is far more powerful when they don’t have to spend time guessing where to scrub back to in a long video.
  • Test your activities to breaking point. Teenaged audiences are awesome for gathering feedback, because they will not only tell you what’s wrong they will do so with great relish! Just make sure you do something with what they tell you – user feedback is far too useful to waste!
  • Ensure your narrative is clear. When following video tutorials it can be too easy to focus on the little bitty tasks in front of you and not see what you’re actually achieving. Adding (brief) explanations of why we just did what we did is vital.
  • Encourage repeated play throughs. I typically teach databases at the start of IGCSE year 1 and swing back to them in year 2, and always begin with DB1/DB2. They are familiar, they are scaffolded and the video tutorials are optional for anyone who remembers everything in year 2.

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