Getting the Most Out of Board Video Lectures

To get the most out of a lecture, it takes both an engaging speaker and an active listener. Yes, you as a listener are an essential part of the formula. It is not only the job of the lecturer to grab your attention and teach you, it is also your responsibility to actively listen and interact with the speaker to maximize your learning experience.

If you walk into an empty room with no idea of why you are there, you might be surprised and learn something. However, if you go into a lecture seeking answers to questions you have formed, searching for organization and meaning to material you have previously read and reviewed, you will learn on a whole different level.

Many medical schools are now videotaping live lectures and providing these to students as a supplement to the classroom. Students seem to appreciate the fact that they can view the lectures from their own homes, in their pajamas, and “attend class” at their own leisure. This is great, but I also hear how much time students are spending on each lecture, rewinding each video, listening to each word over and over again, spending hours to get through an hour long lecture. This is a concern leading educators to wonder if forcing a student to go to a 50 minute lecture is perhaps healthier for students than having them over-committing time to a topic. Instead, our team feels we need to  coach students on how to improve their video lecture skills.

Avoiding over-commitment to a video lecture is especially important at board preparation time. Students may be limited to the time they have to interact with their video lessons, but more importantly, they have a huge amount of material to cover to adequately prepare for boards. To maximize your interaction with video lectures and improve your experience, prepare similarly as you would for going to a class lecture.

To get the most out of board video lectures, follow these steps:

STEP 1 View your video lectures prepared.  You will take in the material at a whole new level. Your classmates will learn the material at one level and you will learn it at a higher, deeper level. You will be getting more for your money than your study mates. Prepare ahead for a lecture by reading relevant materials prior to viewing the video. You could use review materials in First Aid or perhaps Board Review Series Path or Phys. You should already be familiar with most of the concepts from your classes but there may be new concepts with which you are not familiar. Spend extra time on these and begin trying to make sense of them. Do initial learning on these topics. Annotate First Aid ahead of time on these new topics as well as topics you have particular trouble with. Also, identify questions you want answered during the video lecture. This way you are listening for answers during the video lecture. Now you are actively listening to the lecture for relevant information.
STEP 2 Prepare your space. Turn off your TV, cell phone, instant messaging, and any other distractions. You will need all of your focus for maximum learning. Get paper and a pen or pencil to take notes in addition to your First Aid or books that accompany your video lecture.
STEP 3 Do I listen or take notes?  If you have limited viewings of your video lectures, you may not have the luxury of listening to a lecture before taking notes. When taking notes, listen to the video for a full 5 minutes before stopping the lecture or taking notes. This will allow you time listen and fully hear all the essentials of a concept before interrupting to write. Too many interruptions prevent the student from grasping an overall picture.Write down everything that you feel is important using the language of the instructor. Don't worry about organization or full understanding now. This will come in the next few steps.
STEP 4 Groom your notes. Take your First Aid to a print shop like Kinko’s and have the binding removed and placed in a notebook or spiral binding so you can add notes or write in it easily. Immediately, or as soon as possible, begin adding your video lecture notes to the margins of your First Aid in an annotated, ordered fashion. Do not simply copy what you have written from the video lecture; organize it so it fits into some sort of logical way to First Aid and in your own words. Research has shown that organizing and reviewing material immediately after lecture improves learning and helps move it from short-term memory to long-term memory. It is also important that these notes be in your own words as this further facilitates the learning process.
STEP 5 Review your notes. Sparingly highlight new concepts or difficult topics that require frequent reviewing. Use write-on sticky note tabs to indicate sections that you want to find easily in the future. Do not continue to review easy topics or topics that you already know. Take 5 minutes to look over topics each few days that are difficult to remember or learn until you have them down solid. Then go over them every 5 days, then every 10 days, etc.
STEP 6 Go through it again. Now review the video lecture again accompanied by your notes. Do not go through the video lecture again without taking a few hours or a day to thoroughly study the material. You will pick up gems during this viewing that you would never have caught without your new level of knowledge. Suddenly concepts will come together that haven’t before. This will allow you to answer more complex, higher order questions that show up on Step 1 or Step 2 that others will not be able to figure out.

If you have any suggestions or additions to these guidelines, please share them with us. We value all of your insights.

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