Many professors are creating their own multimedia content for their classes. Multimedia content comes in many forms, with the most popular being video content. However, the definition of content in this context is very narrow as it refers to the medium. This media centric view of content can make it difficult to separate the actual educational content from the medium itself. The educational content can be described as what is the professor trying to demonstrate, model, or explain to the students.


Beyond media: Defining the content of instruction

 A way to frame the educational content outside of the medium is through the lens of the cognitive apprenticeship. Cognitive apprenticeship is an approach to teaching in professional education (in fields of business, medicine, and law) that aims to help students develop expertise in their domain. Cognitive apprenticeship is focused on learning in context together with experts and novices. The emphasis is placed on “how experts use metacognitive strategies and conceptual and procedural knowledge to solve problems in their domains” (Williams, 1992, p. 370).

This approach to learning defines the educational content into four categories (Williams, 1992, p. 371):

Entypo_d83d(0)_32Domain knowledge
Facts, procedures, and concepts necessary to solve problems.

Entypo_d83d(3)_32Heuristic strategies
Tricks of the trade. These are general procedures that are helpful in solving  problems.

Entypo_e720(0)_32Control strategies
Metacognitive processes that a problem solver uses to monitor and regulate the  course of problem solving.

Entypo_2692(2)_32Learning strategies
Procedures for acquiring new knowledge when knowledge is not adequate for problem solving.

Many of these areas cannot be taught through direct instruction or simply through lecture. Rather, they have to be observed while an expert is solving a problem. The use of multimedia can enable faculty to demonstrate problem solving skills and the strategies that an expert uses to solve problems, even when the solution may not be apparent.

Many teaching videos tend to focus on domain knowledge and conveying information that can be easily communicated in a textbook. The real talent of experts is not necessarily imparting domain knowledge but rather demonstrating the heuristic, control, and learning strategies that they use to solve problems. This is where teaching videos by experts are a perfect fit.

 At the W.R. Berkley Innovation Lab, we suggest a simple strategy to help faculty structure the educational content of their videos using a  TellShowTry technique.

Screenshot 2016-06-16 21.46.03This technique is a way to structure educational content around the 1) presentation of domain knowledge (the telling), 2) the demonstration of problem solving techniques using heuristic and control strategies (the showing) and 3) and the assignment of a problem for students to do on their own (the trying).

This technique has helped us frame the educational content of teaching videos. The video production, including the pre and postproduction process, is complicated and can tend to take the forefront over the educational content. By structuring videos in such a way where only a portion of the video is focused on information transmission (Telling), the true expertise of the teacher can shine through problem-solution demonstrations (Showing), and help students form a model of how to solve problems in their domain (Trying).

See the full slideshare presentation below.

Creating Teaching Videos in the Studio from Kristen Sosulski


Work Cited

Williams, S. (1992). Putting Case-Based Instruction into Context: Examples from Legal and Medical Education. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, Vol. 2, No. 4, pp. 367-427.

Dr. Kristen Sosulski develops innovative practices for higher education as the Director of Education for the NYU Stern W.R. Berkley Innovation Lab. She also teaches MBA students and executives data visualization, R programming, and operations management as an Associate Professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business.

Kristen’s passion for technology and learning sciences converges in all facets of her career, inside and outside of the classroom. Follower her on Twitter at @sosulski and learn more at


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