literacies modeled, on-demand.
I make frequent use of video tutorials, especially in courses where students are coping with difficult and unfamiliar concepts like learning how to program, learning advanced digital animation techniques, or, as in this case, just getting comfortable with experimenting in NetLogo, a popular agent-based simulation package.
Before I taught courses like these, I imagined that I could simply ask students to familiarize themselves with a codebase and, one week later, they would be ready to discuss the finer points of the application’s design in class.
But that was never the case. Humanists and social scientists consistently present as anxious about “playing” with code, and avoid using applications unless they feel as though they “understand” them. And that insecurity makes it hard for students to get to a point where they begin to internalize the logic of digital simulation.
So videos like this one (loosely scripted, improvisational, with errors and happy accidents) are an important means of alerting students to opportunities for deeper engagement with the digital.
Truth be told, these videos can be tedious. A video like this should not be misinterpreted as the equivalent of an in-class lecture — it is more like a casual conversation over coffee. And I always encourage students to make heavy use of Fast Forward and Reverse, in addition to Play. (If you listen carefully, you’ll hear that I remastered the video at 1.2x speed, in order to help move things along even more.)