Teaching a physical skill online

We all recognise the importance of practice in learning anything. (Side note: I'm interested in a platform called practice.xyz, recently acquired by Instructure, parent company of the Canvas LMS. If you don't know it, I recommend you check it out.)

Some years ago I was involved in a fascinating project whose goal was (and remains) to teach the gestural vocabulary of the major classical dance form from India (Bharatanatyam).

We came up with an interesting way of doing this: the learner would watch a demo from the instructor (full disclosure: the instructor is my wife, the wonderful Preeti Vasudevan). Then they would switch on their webcam and record themselves following the movement.

Then there's the remediation phase, where the student can review his or her effort alongside the instructor.

For certain physical skills this would work better than for others–and of course it requires the webcam to be set up carefully. But the basic principal of using the camera to compare oneself to a model is an interesting one.

In essence, it's a two-step process. As follows:

Step 1: Learner sees demo from expert


Step 2: Learner records his / her attempt and can review it alongside the model

Bruno Kavanagh