Begin at the beginning

A Model for Applying Common Craft Videos:
[Via Common Craft – Explanations In Plain English –]

People often ask how our presentation quality videos are used in professional and educational settings. From talking to educators and influencers, we’ve learned that our videos are often used to introduce a subject – to get everyone on the same page at the beginning of a class, workshop, etc. Recently, as part of our planning for 2009, we came up with a model that helps tell this story. We call it the A-to-Z Scale.

NEW AtoZ by you.

The scale represents the path to learning a subject. On the left side are the basic, fundamental ideas. On the right, the details and applications of the ideas.

For example, let's consider the subject of biology. We might find topics like these at corresponding parts of the scale:

CC atozbiology by you.

As you can see, the scale goes from big, fundamental ideas to specific details.

When we think about our videos and how they can be applied, we think about the scale and what parts of it represent the biggest opportunities for us to have a positive impact.

The Problem We See:

We believe that one of the real problems in explaining subjects is that people assume too much about what people already know. Their explanation doesn’t account for people who are new to the ideas and have major knowledge gaps. They start in the middle of the scale:

NEW AtoZ by you.

When this happens, people feel lost. They don’t have context for what is being taught or how the idea fits into the big picture. They’re forced to build on an insufficient foundation.


When anyone starts a conversation, it is a good idea to move as far backward as possible. Normally when we speak, we can gauge how well it is going. Online, however, it is really easy for us to start in the middle, and speak to the already engaged, not knowing that the majority may not have a clue.

Common Craft gives some nice insights into how to undo this approach.

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One thought on “Begin at the beginning”

  1. Of course, one can drive people crazy as one tries to find out how much a person knows on a subject. My favorite term, for example, is “define ….” and people get very upset with me. However, I then know how much they don’t know!

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