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“Difficult topic in your course? Then create a knowledge clip!” - Monique Slijper

To avoid having to explain the most difficult topics in your course over and over again, I use knowledge clips in my teaching. Herefor I offer students an opportunity to study the material prior to the start of a tutorial. Both I and my students are highly satisfied with the use of knowledge clips as a teaching tool.

I use knowledge clips in my courses on mass spectrometry. This makes the contact time with students much more productive. Since I started using my knowledge clips, the students discuss much deeper and ask more difficult questions during the tutorials. And it’s nice that they watch my knowledge clips prior to our first meeting, so they already know me, which makes it easier for them to talk to me.

Acknowledge mistakes and move on

Since I attended a workshop about making knowledge clips, I have regularly visited the Do-it-Yourself studio to record videos. I made my first recordings around three years ago. At first, it wasn’t easy to make a good clip. The technology wasn’t always user-friendly, and the group of lecturers I was working with still had to discover that a clip didn’t have to be 100% perfect. It was good to see that we were all struggling with the same problems. We established a community, and we still share our ideas with one another. Since then, the studio’s assistance has improved, and it’s now much easier to record a video. I’ve also learned that it’s not a problem when you realize during the recordings that you’ve made a small mistake, like switching two sheets. The recommendation was to just mention this in the clips, and continue with my recordings. Later, the students said that they didn’t think it was distracting at all; it was just a brief interruption in the explanation.

Good alternative for complicated theory

Every lecturer knows that you sometimes have to repeat a difficult topic. This can be because listeners are distracted, or you forgot to mention an essential step in the process. But with knowledge clips, the student can watch the explanation over and over, and repeat the difficult parts as often as they like. I was one of the lecturers in the biomedical sciences bachelor’s course on Research Methods. During a period of nine weeks, I teach the course to a weekly different group of 20 second-year students. There, they learn how to analyse proteins using mass spectrometry. Students aren’t allowed to work in the mass spectrometry lab, because the groups are too large, and the equipment is too expensive and delicate. So knowledge clips are a good alternative for explaining the complicated theory behind it. A weekend before the seminar, I ask the students to watch the clips prior to the tutorials. Nice is, that they actually do it, so they get well prepared for the tutorial.

First theory, now practice too

I asked my students for feedback on the first series of knowledge clips for two years in a row. ‘Useful and handy, and it’s nice that the clips are short’, according to the students. But also: ‘It’s easy to pay attention. If you don’t understand it at first, you can just watch it again.’ And: ‘It’s ideal, especially for the difficult topics, with a real focus on the content.’
The students’ enthusiasm and positive feedback encouraged me to improve and expand the series of clips, including via MyMediasite and a video using a lightboard. Again, my students responded highly positively. Two honours students felt inspired, and recently recorded a video explaining the workflow in the lab, so now my students can also watch how mass spectrometry works in real life.

Monique Slijper is associate Professor Pharmaceutical sciences at the Science faculty.


Would you like to make your own knowledge clips?

A knowledge clip is a brief 5-10-minute video explaining a single topic. The students can watch the knowledge clips online, so they are better prepared for the lectures, seminars, and labs. This allows the group to deal with the lesson materials in more depth. Do-it-Yourself video recording studios are available at Utrecht Science Park, the UCU, and in the city centre. Or you can record a video at your own workplace with a MyMediasite account. The Educate-It programme provides lecturers with teaching assistance and practical support.