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If my Inbox is any guide – which, of course, it really isn’t – the British Sociological Association has been making a concerted effort recently to “reach-out”, as we say, to A-level Sociology Teachers through their Discover Sociology off-shoot site.

And by reaching-out I mean adding a steady drip of resources to those already on the site. The latter, in case you’re not familiar with what’s on offer, almost-exclusively consist of annotated commentaries on a variety of topics (Education, Media, Health…). While these are generally interesting the sheer volume of external links to text and video resources produced outside the site means they need to be regularly checked to ensure everything’s working as it should. Which, unfortunately doesn’t always seem to be the case because there are a lot – and by “a lot” I mean more than a few – of broken links dotted throughout the site / resources.

Finn Mackay

Be that as it may, the latest stuff to wend itself my way is a series of video resources (although some may quibble over the question of whether or not “five” constitutes “a series”) by some major UK academics. These are, in no particular order:

Finn Mackay: Feminist theory, feminist activism and radical feminism (13 minutes)

Grace Davie: Believing without Belonging (9 minutes)

Louise Archer: Educational inequality (23 minutes)

Nigel South: Green criminology (19 minutes)

Louise Ryan: ‘Older Migrants and Changing Relationships to Places Over Time: in Contexts of Brexit and the Windrush Scandal’ (13 minutes)

Rebecca and Russell Dobash: Domestic Violence (20 minutes)

As you may have noticed, the films vary in length quite considerably and the first four are basically video lectures in which the academic talks directly to camera, generating varying degrees of interest and success (of which I’ll let you be the judge). Aside from the fact these are Zoomed lectures that suffer from the familiar audio problems associated with cheap microphones and shiny bedroom / living-room walls, your students may well find these a mixed bag.

This isn’t because they’re not intrinsically interesting people – having Grace Davie talk about her concept of Believing Without Belonging seems to me something most A-level students would find interesting – but rather because although this type of lecturing is still fairly standard at degree level it’s not necessarily a teaching technique to which A-level students are often exposed.

The latter two lectures vary the format a little by taking a “podcast with pictures” approach, with the respective academics talking around a variety of information displayed on screen (and if I’m being brutally honest here I half-expected the 1990’s to call in asking for their PowerPoint slides back…).

Dobash and Dobash

Whether or not these kinds of resources work for you and your students is, I guess, something only you will know, but I’d be inclined to give some of them a try because I think it can be useful to have well-known academics, whose work features on Sociology specifications, talking directly to students – although personally I’d like to have seen a little more direction included.

As we’ve discovered at ShortCutstv, academics love to talk about their work and the trick is to try to make them focus on things relevant to their audience. At a rough guess I’d say that in a 10-minute film we’d interview an academic for 60 or 70 minutes and use a maximum of 2 minutes: not because what they’re saying isn’t interesting but because it isn’t necessarily relevant to the task at hand.

In these Zoomtastic days its perfectly possible – as Matthew Wilkin’s Sociology Show has demonstrated – to move away from a “letting academics talk at length about their research” format to create something a little more focused without necessarily having to pay out lots of money for presenters, camera operators and editors (and believe me, they don’t come cheap…).

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