tina levyTina Levy

It’s Sunday afternoon, you’re working on your math homework for intermediate algebra - and you’re stuck. Your notes on the lecture don’t quite make sense to you, and by now you can’t remember exactly what your teacher said. What can you do? 

If you’re a Diablo Valley College student in MATH-120, you can go to YouTube for help. Yes, you read that right. YouTube.com.

Professor Tina Levy, who earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees in math from the University of Wisconsin, has been teaching math full time at DVC for more than 30 years, having been hired in 1974. She is always looking for ways to make math easier for students to understand. YouTube is her latest innovation.

“Years ago I also had some amazing teaching experiences in a special program out of Lawrence Hall of Science called Project SEED. We taught algebra, via the discovery method, to elementary students in economically-disadvantaged areas of Berkeley and Oakland.” 

Through her work as a teacher trainer in that program, Levy came up with many ideas for fun and interesting approaches to various math concepts. “I thought it would be great to be able to put some of those ideas on video and use my overhead approach with color,” she explained.

“I had been teaching online classes for many years,” Levy said. “I also had been teaching my campus students using the overhead projector - I like to use lots of color and write down all the steps.”  

At first, she said, Richard Woodruff would video her while she wrote on an overhead for the review sessions for her online students.  

“But then I attended a conference by McGraw Hill in Santa Fe and saw another instructor who had done these Camtasia videos,” Levy said. “That was my ‘Aha’ moment - I saw the potential to do what I do in my campus classes and have it recorded.” Then Pearson Publishers contracted with her to do the videos for one of their Beginning Algebra textbooks. “I did that and then I was off and running. Their videos were a bit more ‘canned’ with a script, while my videos are done real time in my classes and reflect my teaching approach. And the technology got easier to use.” 

Levy said she first made videos for her
MATH-193, Calculus II classes.  

“The response was overwhelmingly positive,” she said. “The students in the class were using them and referring to them constantly. At first I posted them on their Web CT course page. Then last year, I started two YouTube channels– one for Algebra II (MATH-120) and one for
MATH-193, Calculus and Analytic Geometry II.”

Levy stressed that the videos are meant to enhance her lectures, not replace them.

“The students can stop them and go back and hear any portion of each video,” she explained. “After much experimentation, I now try to keep them at 5 to 10 minutes in length. Any longer and students get lost.” Each video is for an individual concept. That gives students who don’t necessarily grasp the concept the first time a chance to go over and over it until they understand. “In some classes,” Levy added, “I have done four or five videos per 2.5 hour-class session as I break the topic into ‘bite-size’

Levy believes that quite a few of her students are using them. “In fact,” she said, “last spring, when I was working in the Math Lab, a student in MATH-193 with another instructor heard me talking. She came over and told me she recognized my voice immediately, and said how helpful my videos had been for her, especially for the topics in a difficult chapter. Another of my students told me that his friend, who was taking a different MATH-120 class, was listening to them and found them to be a great help.” Since they are on YouTube, the videos are available to anyone in the world. Levy currently has videos for MATH-120 and MATH-193, and hopes to do videos for the other classes as she teaches them. 

“I make these videos as I teach the class, so they are ‘real time’,” Levy explained. “I get to start and stop the videos as I am teaching the class, so I can stop as I’m recording to ask questions and have students respond. It’s great fun. Then I go home and (sometimes) edit it, then make it into an MP4 video, then upload it to YouTube. It’s quite time consuming, especially getting it on YouTube, which can be very slow from my home.

Levy has posted 64 videos for MATH-120, so
every lecture is covered. She has 33 videos for MATH-193, so almost every topic is covered. Students are encouraged to try the videos.

How to get to the videos:

For MATH-120:

Go to www.youtube.com. Students type
“AlgebraMade Simple” into the YouTube search box, using NO spaces but using quotation marks.

Once on her YouTube channel, click on Videos, then Uploads, then click on Playlists and the videos are listed by chapter.  

For MATH -193: 

Go to www.youtube.com. Students type
“CalculusMadeEasier” in the YouTube search box, again using quotation marks but no spaces. Click on that name again, then click on videos, and you will see the videos listed individually by title.

Levy expects that the videos will remain online until she removes them from YouTube, “So I expect to have them there for many years,” she said. “I hope to continually add to them as I continue to teach these classes, and I hope to make some for other math courses as well.”