Maryam Tsegaye on quantum tunnelling. The video link starts 15 seconds in – just slide it back to the start

The main reason this video is so important for online learning is that Maryam demonstrates so well many of the educational affordances of video, and shows what a powerful teaching medium video can be when used properly. More specifically, here are my reasons (in random order of importance):

  1. She has taken what is generally treated as a very abstract concept, and found ways to represent the main ideas in simple concrete ways (more details below).
  2. She uses the video to provide concrete representations and her presentation/voice over to provide explanation and analysis.
  3. She is clearly having fun doing this: her enthusiasm and energy are really important in grabbing your attention.
  4. It is mercifully short: 2 minutes 58 seconds.
  5. It has a strong narrative: here is a puzzle; here’s the solution; and why it’s important. All good video should tell a story.
  6. It uses very simple, clear graphics and smart editing, all of which could be done on a lap-top, but I suspect that there was also some technical help: it’s always good to work with a professional video producer/graphic designer if possible. But they need you as the subject expert to suggest ideas for graphics, so thinking visually is important.
  7. It deals with a really important educational topic that is in general considered ‘difficult’ yet enables understanding of the basic principle. (At least I think I understand it – and I knew nothing before of quantum physics).
  8. It stands on its own, but it is not the whole story (video never is). It will benefit from being used within a broader context, which would include the necessary mathematics, and linked to related principles.
  9. She had time. This was done during Covid-19 when she had to stay at home. Here is a very important lesson for all teachers. Students need time to do this kind of work. This is very difficult to do if there is a full curriculum that requires a rigid timetable. But a project like this is a great way for students to learn things in depth – as well as help others to learn.
  10. She uses humour (‘Electrons have a commitment issue’) to relate a principle to a real life context.
  11. She explains clearly why quantum tunnelling is an important principle with major implications for our lives.
  12. It is open access: it is free to download, at least for educational purposes; it adds to the stock of educational resources that we can all use.

Now let me say that not everyone is as brilliant as Maryam, but many of the techniques she used in this video are well within the reach of most post-secondary instructors, especially if they can work with a media producer from their Centre for Teaching and Learning.

It also raises the question of what constitutes ‘academic’ knowledge – which is why I suggest that the video on its own may not be enough – but I’m not a physicist, so can’t answer that question. However I certainly see the video as a valuable step towards understanding quantum tunnelling. But it will be most valuable as part of a wider curriculum.

So off you go: let’s see you create many more excellent uses of video in education. And thank you so much, Maryam – you are an inspiration to us all.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here