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Since then I wanted to place my lectures on the
That would be in the direct following of one of my
teaching principles - the openness of
I truly believe that every classroom in the world
should have web cameras installed and active 24/7. Nowadays, face recognition
techniques could make to blur students faces, to protect their privacy, but
there should be NO privacy for teachers - only when they teach, of course!
People should see what teachers do, and how good they
are at teaching.
But I until recently had no guts to do it.
My English is not perfect (I have no formal education
in English, I learned it via books, records, radio and TV shows; and teaching
does not really help to improve the language skills - I have never could say if
students did not ask any questions because they understood everything, or
because they did not understand anything; they would be too polite to point at
my language mistakes; but usually there was at least one student who would say
that sometimes it was hard to understand what I was saying because of the
As everybody else, I may have a bad day (a headache,
or a stomach flu, or not getting my sleep hours, or just tired; the first week
of the first semester is especially tough, since I have to speak very intense
English after a long break).
And, of course, everybody makes mistakes; mistakes are
inevitable and unavoidable; but no one likes when people see their mistakes
(when I tell this sentence to my students, I also add that there is no shame in
making a mistake, there is a shame though in sticking to it; or that we all
sometimes say something wrong, but there is nothing wrong in saying something wrong,
what is wrong is to stick saying wrong things even when you already know that
you are wrong).
I always wanted to edit the captured videos, and then
to place them in the open.
Finally, one Summer, I made the decision to go
through, and just to post the raw videos; no editing, no touching. Reflecting
back on all my courses, this one was not the best, but also was not the worst.
I realized that even with all my issues and
deficiencies, and mistakes, and mishaps, many students still give me a very
positive feedback about my
This feedback is one the most rewarding parts of the
teaching; it tells me that I do something right and good for students.
The last evaluations from
my students were “the last straw which broke the camel’s back” (meaning - good
enough to encourage me to post all my videos and materials).
Here it is;
the complete Elementary Physics course:
the syllabus, lecture notes, lab manuals, and lecture videos.
Unfortunately, sometimes the quality of sound was not
great (still not sure, why; also, some files are much larger than others, even
though the timing was the same for all lectures). If you watch the full video, it
is not easy to see the slides and what is happening on the bench (when I do
demonstrations; and every physics teacher knows, that a demonstration which
perfectly worked a day before in the rehearsal could just stop working in a
lecture); and when you watch the video with the slides, you cannot see many of
the demonstrations at all. I wish I could develop a full course from scratch,
and make it in the way I see it in my mind. For example, ideally it should be
about twice longer, to include more demonstrations and more problem-solving
This course may be useful for everyone who has never
been taking physics and planning on taking an official physics course, and
wants to get a general understanding of basic ideas and techniques.
I would also strongly recommend this course to every
middle school and high school science or physics teacher, coupled with my book:
“Becoming a STEM
The links below lead only to the latest 2018 lectures,
but YouTube also keeps lectures from the Summer of 2017.
It may be interesting to compare the same lecture from
two different years.
For example, Summer of 2017 course was especially
difficult for me. In the middle of the course I realized that this time every
lecture was 10 minutes shorter than in the past. Over the course of the course
I lost three full summer lectures (an equivalent of five (!) regular lectures
given in a spring or in a fall semester). I had to redo all my lecture slides,
fiddle with the homework and even labs - hence, a lot of the material was
presented in a new untested form.
The 2018 course was more or less traditional.
When I am getting prepared to a lecture, I am playing
in my mind various scenarios; I think about my actions, and students’ actions,
and try to manage the lecture time in the most efficient way, which would allow
the majority of students to understand the fundamentals of the topics we learn,
and to grasp the basic techniques which are useful for solving related problems.
Nowadays, every textbook comes with PowerPoint slides.
But I do not like them, because they are just not good (the first issue is that
it is just hard to read those slides from a distance). When I prepare my
slides, I think about the color I want to use for certain words in a particular
slide to manipulate with the students’ attention (unfortunately, after years of
modifications my slides also need a “facelift”.
When I am getting ready to a lecture, I think about
what information is important for the lecture and use a large font for that
(generic presentations supplied with a textbook are very hard to read, but I
use pictures from some of those slides). I think about information I would only
briefly mention in the lecture, and let students read it later (when the slides
are posted online; so for this part I use a smaller font). I think about what
should I do during the time when students are answering a question posted on
the screen. I try to make sure that all three sources of the information Ѝ lectures,
homework assignments, and laboratory exercises - would be entangled in the most
efficient way, supporting each other.
I try to build my lectures in a way which optimizes
learning activities of students; I plan what students should do in the course
of each lecture, and those actions should go beyond just “listen to a
For years, my labs represent a combination of
tutorials (guiding questions, small problems, making predictions for future
comparison with the measurements), and taking and analyzing physical data. At
the end of each lab students do a problem similar to one of the most confusing
homework problems. Teaching fellows are supposed to be helping students with
navigating through the lab, answering the questions, giving a regular feedback
on their progress.
When students ask me if
an exam will be “hard” I always say that “hard” or “easy” are just not the
right words to describe an exam. An exam
needs to be fair and informative. An exam is NOT an IQ test,
it will not test thinking abilities, but only the solid knowledge of the
topics. My instructions say: “Do not spend too much time on any part of any
problem. If you know what to do - do it, otherwise, move on, you can always get
back to it later”. Usually I go through several versions of an exam, solving
each version from scratch; since I do not need to think about the solution, I
spend the time mostly on reading and writing; I try to keep my time around 20
minutes (for a 110-minute exam).
Some students write in their official feedback that
the course was “funny”. I suppose I do have a sense of humor. However, I never
prepare any jokes specifically to make students laugh. I have seen some
instructors who have been performing a “standup”, hoping to get good student
evaluations. I don’t do that. When I teach, I have two goals. The first one, of
course, is to teach some physics. But the second goal is to present students
with some philosophical views on life in general. I do not lecture on
philosophy, of course. But sometimes, if an interesting logical connection
between physics and life pops up in mine mind, I say it aloud. Often students
do not react at all. But sometimes, probably because for them the connection
also was new and unexpected, they may give a laugh.
From this day forward, the view of my latest teaching
is available to anyone.