We had the plea­sure of work­ing with David­son Col­lege, in part­ner­ship with The Col­lege Board and MIT’s edX, on their inno­v­a­tive approach to rede­fine how high school stu­dents approach Advance Place­ment (AP) cours­es.

Nation­al data show that many stu­dents strug­gle to com­plete inde­pen­dent, col­lege-lev­el course­work, cre­at­ing strong demand for inno­v­a­tive approach­es to help stu­dents mas­ter chal­leng­ing AP mate­r­i­al and con­cepts. Tra­di­tion­al approach­es can leave some schools behind because of fac­ul­ty is not always trained in the best way to teach these cours­es, and an online only approach leaves some stu­dents behind because of the dig­i­tal divide. Their approach was a hybrid approach between the tra­di­tion­al class­room teach­ing and ful­ly online cours­es. That com­bined online and face-to-face instruc­tion to cre­ate a blend­ed learn­ing for­mat that is more effec­tive than either approach on its own.

Our ini­tial work with David­son Next is a pilot pro­gram that has a series of 42 dif­fer­ent videos that span over 3 dif­fer­ent sub­jects, cal­cu­lus, macro­eco­nom­ics, and physics, with each sub­ject being divid­ed into twelve to four­teen dif­fer­ent lessons. Each video teach­es gen­er­al con­cepts about the mate­r­i­al, includes spe­cif­ic exam­ples for each les­son, and pro­vides ques­tions for the stu­dents to answer. Because the videos need­ed to be infor­ma­tive, accu­rate and con­cise David­son Next decid­ed to bring in high school teach­ers who were experts in those indi­vid­ual top­ics.

So why is this important to a creative studio?

This kind of project fits square­ly in the inter­sec­tion of Dig­i­tal and Video and is an area we at Price­less Misc. think we have a unique approach. We were able to work with David­son Col­lege, one of the finest lib­er­al arts schools in the coun­try, the Col­lege Board, and edX. We were espe­cial­ly excit­ed about being able to col­lab­o­rate direct­ly with edX who has been a pio­neer in the area of democ­ra­tiz­ing learn­ing across the web. Work­ing with their team on almost a week­ly bases we were able to learn a great deal from them and I think we taught them a few things too.

As with any­thing of this scale, there were many chal­lenges to this pro­duc­tion. The series was shot over the course of a year using dif­fer­ent instruc­tors for almost every video and we shot in sev­er­al dif­fer­ent loca­tions around the David­son cam­pus. It was imper­a­tive that each video be visu­al­ly con­sis­tent, rough­ly the same length and have each teacher in the video seem as though they were all experts on being on cam­era. Basi­cal­ly, a video for cal­cu­lus made in Sep­tem­ber of 2013 need­ed to look and feel the same as a video for macro­eco­nom­ics made in win­ter of 2014. The trick here was adap­ta­tion. We need­ed to know how to coach the tal­ent on screen to get the most clear and pre­cise per­for­mance out of them. Not only that, but because most of the teach­ers we taped were fly­ing in from all over the coun­try we real­ly had only one shot to get it right. We also need­ed to fig­ure out ways to shoot so that no mat­ter what space we were film­ing in the videos would all look the visu­al­ly con­sis­tent. For­tu­nate­ly our crew took to this task and made some very com­pelling con­tent with the help of Julie Goff’s coor­di­na­tion from the David­son Next team.

In a coor­di­nat­ed effort with the David­son Next team, the edX edit­ing staff, and the gra­cious help of the pro­fes­sors on cam­pus we were apart of pro­duc­ing some tru­ly engag­ing and use­ful con­tent for stu­dents and teach­ers. All of the feed­back we’ve received on the con­tent has been over­whelm­ing­ly pos­i­tive and we’re proud to be apart of a pro­gram that offers help to stu­dents look­ing to fur­ther their mas­tery of a sub­ject or teach­ers look­ing to push their class­rooms to the next lev­el.

To learn more about Davidson Next check out:

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