Improved Learning with Transcripts of Video Tutorials

I'm learning AngularJS and noticed a few things going on. First is that there's a great tutorial out there called Angular JS in 60 Minutes Ish by Dan Wahlin. It's really good, and it's a little different from most tutorials. It read like the script of a screencast - and I thought it *was* the script of a screencast.

It's actually the inverse. It's the transcript of the screencast, and the images were taken from the screencast.

It really combines the best of the two media. Video and audio tend to be terrible at detail - and that's their strength: creating video and audio forces the writer/producer/videomaker to be extremely concise. Video also allows for additional emphasis through repetition, jokes, idioms, pacing, voice modulation, and all the other verbal techniques most people use, but don't think about consciously. Video and audio are necessarily going to lean toward concepts rather than the specifics of implementation.

The transcript allows the reader to look at the specifics of the implementation. It's easy to page back and forth, look at the code, and reread the text. The text itself is pretty good; its main quality it's skimmable. Traditional tutorials tend to be dense with information, and sometimes requires re-reading. Traditional instructional material for computer programmers in book form demands re-reading. (The best example is the C Programming Language by K&R, which can be re-read a few times over several years to glean new insights.)

The fact that these are the same text, in different forms, really highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the two different media.

This tutorial's not the ultimate Angular tutorial; the standard one on the Angular website is also good, and covers testing, which is extremely important. The standard tutorial is fairly low on conceptual material, but heavy on technique; so you're supposed to figure out the concepts yourself.

So there's a complementary relationship between these two tutorials.


This being 2014, and there being a huge fight between online learning (aka, high tech bazillionaires who like video instruction and online testing), and traditional teaching (aka, teachers in schools), I have to point out that classroom instruction isn't the same as video.

For me, lectures are a little worse, because you don't have "rewind" in lectures. I'm terrible at receiving verbal instruction. My brain is like a sieve when it comes to receiving information verbally. I need to take some notes. I need illustrations and text, and moreover, I need to be able to review the material. I suspect for most people, it's the opposite: they have a harder time learning from text, and learn more from classes.

That said, with lectures, you get a social environment with the classroom, which is inherently valuable. I always like when the class is asked a question, and all the wrong answers come out. It's an environment where a good teacher can help people map out their lack of understanding. It can be useful to understand how people don't understand a subject as it is to know the subject.

You also get the social advantage of people meeting daily to make progress towards some educational goal. You have peers learning the same thing, helping each other out. That's so important. Also, in my case, it was my peers who explained the colleges to me, so I could make decisions about where to go.