Feedback on the Wiki While You Work video

I’ve gotten a surprising amount of positive feedback on the Wiki While You Work video I recorded for the k12onlineconference. However, I’ve also gotten some more critical feedback. The following email is one such example, and one I responded to in some detail, so I thought I’d share it here… in case anyone else felt the same way as the woman who emailed me, or in case anyone else is considering recording similar videos and sharing them… well, that and it just makes a good story.

Here is the email I received a few weeks ago (before the CUE conference):

Mark:I was assigned to facilitate the viewing of your video, Wiki While You Work, to three groups of teachers from our district during our annual technology conference tomorrow. After reviewing the video, I was in a panic! I would like to offer you some constructive criticism and hope that it will help you as you continue in your future endeavors:

  • My district technology personnel and I tried long and hard to adjust the audio to a level that could be heard through external speakers. We tried everything, it could not be done. Was there a problem with the audio for this video?
  • When the video shows a webpage, the webpage is blurred and can not be read. So a lot of the video is of poor quality and does not hold the viewers attention.
  • The two long sections where you interview your wife and the English teacher need work. The viewer needs to be able to see what you are viewing on the computers! It is very boring to sit and watch both of you view and talk about things you are viewing on your computers when we can’t see what you are talking about! Did the English teacher have a bird in the room? What was with the dog? Very unprofessional!
  • The video was way too long. The content could have been presented in a shorter video.
  • I am probably showing my age, 48, but I just would have been more impressed with a more professional environment in the video—not your personal bedroom, kitchen, friend’s living room, etc. Your attire (t-shirt and hat) and the background environment took away from the integrity of the content. Remember that your work will often be viewed in a professional environment!

The content is very informative, but the quality of the video makes it unsuitable for general educational audiences in my opinion. I have been working all day to try to figure out which parts I can show, which parts I need to try to share on my own, what else I can do keep my group engaged, etc. There is just no way that I can show the video as it is and expect our teachers to remain engaged for over an hour. What was supposed to be a “watch the video and facilitate a discussion” assignment for me has turned into an all day ordeal. I guess you sense my frustration.

You obviously have a bright future in the field of educational technology…I encourage you to consider the fact that your audiences will be varied in age, expertise, and location. Don’t let a poor quality product overshadow the excellent content you have to share!

Name Removed
Technology Teacher

These are all valid criticisms of the video, particularly with respect to the audio levels and the visual resolution… and here is my (hopefully appropriate and sympathetic) response:

Name Removed,Thanks for your feedback. I’m sorry to hear about your situation and I hope that you are able to find an interactive solution that works for you. I think demonstrating the use of a wiki (and any examples) yourself is ideal. Any of the other content from the video that you’d rather present or discuss would probably be better coming from a live person, too.At best I would only ever show the first five minutes or so of the video in a workshop situation myself. I’m sorry to hear that this means more work for you today. I cansympathize. I know technology teachers get last minute (and critical) projects dumped on them often.

In any case, I appreciate your criticisms and your willingness to share them with me. I generally present in a suit and tie when I lead a workshop, but this video (and the other two I did for the k12 online conference) were created for free (and in a very limited time) to support an online conference put together by my peers – an audience I hoped to reach in a more informal fashion. In length it was meant to take the place of a conference session rather than a more focused podcast. Sadly, the file size also had to be limited for this purpose and the visual quality is not what I would have hoped it would be. Still, I think it provides an opportunity for teachers interested in the topic to get exposure to real examples and real practitioners even when their own district is not providing a workshop. I’m happy to see the video finding a wider audience, and I’ve gotten some very positive feedback on it as well, but given that your district *is* providing a workshop, I don’t think the video is appropriate myself. ;)

Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you prepare for your presentation. I’m always happy to help if I can.


I suppose that by sharing these criticisms here, I’m making an effort at being transparent… then again, maybe I’m just interested in publicly explaining myself to anyone else who felt the same way. :)