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Online Video Lessons June 29, 2013

Posted by mikeschaffer in dressage.

(for more info on how to do a video lesson click here)

I taught my first online video lesson, my student loved it (see her report below) and it was awesome from my POV as well! When I first envisioned this I thought that it would be useful because I know how helpful it’s been for me to watch my own videos. I can’t believe how effective it was to have the student “standing on the ground” with me watching herself riding.

We used “Skype” which is free software that I always thought was just a way for computer geeks to make free phone calls to one another. Well it turns out there’s more than that – it allowed me to share my monitor with her so she could see exactly what I was seeing.

Before going on, let me tell you how incredibly simple this was. I had never used skype before. I downloaded the software and set up an account (registered my email) on Thursday. Thursday night I tried to call Cheryl, and it worked instantly – the only problem was I didn’t have a microphone to plug into my computer so I couldn’t speak to her (duh!).

Friday morning I ran over to Staples and bought a Logitech h540 headset – looks like head phones but also has a little microphone. Got home, plugged it into the usb port, a window came up said it was installing software for it, 10 seconds later it was all set and ready to go. Plug and play has arrived.

I tested it out by narrating a few seconds of an Indeed video and played it back – it sounded as good as a very expensive microphone, and it totally blocked out the noise of my computer and window fans. Later when Cheryl and I were doing the lesson, I thought that I was hearing her through my regular computer speakers, but then I took the headset off for a moment and realized her voice was coming through the headset. It sounded like she was in the room with me. So the logitech 540 gets 5 stars from me for excellent recording and playback quality as well as being very comfortable.

By Friday afternoon she had emailed links to two 10 minute videos she had put on youtube. At a prearranged time I “called” her on skype, “shared” my screen with her, and started to play back her first video. Amazing – she was seeing me download and play the video just as well on her screen as I was on mine. Crystal clear and only a rare hiccup in playback.

One last technical matter, this was not a fancy setup. She had set her iphone down against a rock and rode. Yes she had edited out the “dead” spots where she wasn’t doing anything or was out of the cameras view, but that’s it. These new digital cameras are so good it was absolutely useful and easy to see.

Once we were up and running, we started to watch. When we came by something I wanted to point out, I could stop it, back it up and replay it, and point to something with my mouse pointer – “See where your hand is? Try moving it here.” Of course I could and did stop and replay it to say, “See what you did here? That’s was perfect! That’s the way it’s supposed to be.”

One of the things we instructors have to be watching for in lessons, is student overload. Taking lessons is actually the most difficult thing to do – way more difficult then showing because you’re not only riding, you’re trying hear, understand and do what is being asked of you while dealing with your horse.

This was all very relaxed and easy. Everything was discussed back and forth and when she was ready we would move on. There was no worrying about capturing the moment, no flies disrupting the conversation, none of that. It was a pure learning environment. No, it’s not the same as me being there, but it’s an excellent format and allows me to be anywhere.

Another really cool thing is we used some of the recent conversation from the forum. The other night there was a conversation about when it’s appropriate to ride on a loose rein instead of contact, and sure enough just such a moment came up in the video lesson.

So between books, the forum, and now video lessons, this is a real program that can help everyone from down the street, to Nebraska, to New Zealand. I’m very excited about this.


From Cheryl

I had my first video lesson with Mike today and I cannot recommend them highly enough — WOW!

I have been taking in-person lessons from Mike once a month since January. I also frequently tape and review my rides. So, I thought I pretty much knew the drill. Wow, it was totally different than I expected and I loved it!

I shared Mike’s screen so he was able to start and stop the video at whatever point he thought important and he used his mouse as a pointer. I started taking voluminous notes and ended up taping the session so I could transcribe it later.

We went through a ten-minute video of each horse, one taken yesterday morning and one this morning. It was nice that they were recent as I still remembered exactly what I was trying to do and what it felt like at the time. We went through the two videos very thoroughly in an hour.

The unexpected part was seeing what Mike sees during a lesson. I know what I think I am doing during a lesson and I know what it feels like my horse is doing, but WOW it is completely different to see what exactly he is seeing and trying to get you to correct in the exact stop-action moment. I was also surprised by how much I was missing when viewing the videos myself. I normally focus on whatever I was working on at that moment (hand, seat, horse’s feet, etc.) and miss other things that are going on. The things Mike noticed shocked me and had much more impact when I could actually see them myself.

I was absolutely stunned that a video lesson could be better than an in-person lesson in many respects. I will continue with my in-person lessons, but I am going to add a few video lessons in between as they offer a perspective that in-person lessons simply cannot.

Thank you so much for this new lesson format, Mike!!




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