Friday, December 21

Professor Lewin Inspires Us to Learn Physics Again! (Video Lectures)

Walter H. G. Lewin is currently a professor of Physics at MIT. He earned his Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics in 1965 at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands...more

Professor Lewin has long had a cult following at MIT, and now thanks to the Internet and initiatives like MIT's OpenCourseWare (OCW), is part of a new generation of academic stars (or should we say 'Old') that are making their own mark in the online learning sphere without charge (beyond the classroom). Hopefully this form of entertainment or education will increasingly get more media attention, and more importantly increasingly grab the attention of the young (and old!) learning minds around the world. I suppose a few hours of Professor Lewin's inspiring lectures could be spared in-between our usually blended dosage of online entertainment, fun and junk.

If you are looking for MIT Audio/Video courses in general, simply click here (and have fun learning from all these sometimes nutty but inspiring MIT professors). If you are eager to explore Professor Lewin's video lectures, you can find dozens of them in the following three (3) courses:

If you are looking for a few of his video lectures to kick-start your inspiring learning journey, perhaps these four (4) videos will be a good start:

You will probably notice when watching his lectures that he uses unique and creative ways to engage his students (Yes that is him on the picture above doing his thing!). Although, he is already 71 years old, it does not seem to hold him back to demonstrate the wonders of physics, and occasionally he puts his life (and the students) at risk (or may seem so thanks to his great humour!). For example, in one of his lectures he rides a fire-extinguisher-propelled tricycle across his classroom to show how a rocket lifts off.

Now you may be wondering how long it takes him to prepare such a lecture? He said in the NYT interview that it takes him around 25 hours to prepare each new lecture, choreographing every detail and stripping out every extra sentence. “Clarity is the word,” he said.

Coming to think of it, all these free lectures found increasingly on the web (check 'Podcasts' category on my blog for a long and useful list of video/audio lecture directories) are not only useful for those learning different knowledge domains and topics, but also critical for lecturers who want to improve their teaching, facilitating and lecturing skills. By spending time exploring and reflecting all these new academic super stars innovative and inspiring lecturing practices, we can pick up a few tricks here and there. If we follow Sam Walton's good old learning approach, we could pick up a trick or two from any lecturer (or any shop in his case!).

Let's face it, we live in global learning space, and students are increasingly going to be aware of all these great free video lectures within their learning domains. So, should we perhaps cancel our lectures (and only conduct tutorials) and ask them to watch these great lectures instead?

No doubt, we should link (URLs) our students to these great free video/audio lectures when relevant. Also, I believe we should also learn from these inspiring Professors (too!), and then put our own contextualized flavour and spice to our lectures (and tutorials), and engage our students in relevant discussions and activities.

Professor Lewin said, “Teaching is my life.” Is teaching your life? Do you have the passion and fire to spark! Do you have the ability and creativity to inspire? If your students are or become inspired to learn your subject, you don't need to teach them, they will learn on their own. Interestingly, they might also remember you for a lifetime for sparking them to life :)

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