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Episode 003 – Ligaya Batten

educ8all May 3, 2019
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In our third episode, we are joined by Ligaya Batten, an experienced Science Teacher and creator of videos. In this episode, Ligaya tells us about her journey into teaching and then into science video creation.

Please note that this episode was recorded on Zoom so please excuse the sound artifacts!


Ligaya Batten’s course can be found here:

AS Level Chemistry for OCR A: /////courses/as-level-chemistry-for-ocr-a/


Vishal Bhogaita 0:04
Hello, and welcome to the educ8ors Podcast. I am Vishal Bhogaita, the founder of educ8all, and your host for this podcast. Educ8all is an online marketplace where students can get access to video courses, downloadable documents, and tutors to help them study for their exams. The educ8ors podcast is an opportunity for you to learn more about what goes into creating the learning resources on the website. You can hear more about our latest resources and discounts by registering today at and signing up to the newsletter. In our third episode, we are joined by Ligaya Batten, an experience tutor and creator of science videos. In this episode Ligaya tells us about how she transitioned into becoming a science teacher and then continued to evolve into becoming a creator of videos. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Ligaya thank you very much for joining me today on the educ8ors podcast. Please could you introduce yourself and let me know a bit more about why you sought to build a career in education.

Ligaya Batten 1:18
Hi, Vishal, thank you very much for having me. Yeah. As you said, my name is Ligaya, Ligaya Batten. I went to school in Kenya and I was always interested in a wide range of activities of academic disciplines. And when I was thinking about what to do for university, I really was interested in so many different things but science was always something I loved, science and maths because I like logic and things like that. And I’ve always found creative writing and longer length writing slightly, slightly difficult. So I decided in the end to go along an interdisciplinary science route, and I did human science at university, which was really, really interesting and it kept my options open, which was great. But then I also again struggled afterwards to figure out what I wanted to do next, because I’m still interested in so many different, so many different aspects of science and life in general. So I took a year off and I went travelling around the world. And during that year, I was already thinking about going into teaching. And I considered a teaching opportunity called Teach First, it was in the early days of Teach First back then, and I started that application process. But actually, while I was travelling, I had the opportunity to visit some schools in rural India. And something about that, that time of my life and that visit, those visits to the rural schools made me realise that it wasn’t actually the right time for me to go into teaching especially in the… in the Teach First route, because I felt like my desire to get into teaching was kind of quite idealistic, and I was really enjoying what I was seeing in India and what I’ve seen in Kenya, which is part of why I wanted why I wanted to go into teaching. And I just felt that actually, at that time in my life, I was quite young just finished uni. And the teach first angle wasn’t going to be right for me yet. So I had always thought about teaching from from an early age, but I decided actually to go into Population Health Research after that. And so I did a master’s and some research in demography and health. And I thought I might go into an academic career at that point in Population Health Research. But again, along the way, I sort of started learning more about myself and realised that having struggled with creative writing at school, that research and academic path probably wasn’t actually for me. So I decided actually, to change paths again in my mid 20s, after doing population health research, and decided at that point, it was the right time to go into teaching. So it had always been something I was interested in. And I decided sort of a bit later on than I think some of my peers, that I would retrain into teaching and I did the graduate teaching programme and got into science teaching at that point.

Vishal Bhogaita 4:14
Right. Okay. And so obviously you were a teacher for some time. And I obviously know that since then you’ve moved into creating videos and tutoring. Could you tell me what prompted that change as well in your career path?

Ligaya Batten 4:28
Yeah, absolutely. So yes, I was a teacher in schools for five years. I taught in state schools for the first two years and then I taught in a private school in London for the next three years. And I think while I was teaching, I just kind of was thinking about, you know, where, where do I want to go personally in my career in my life, and, and actually, while I really enjoyed the active teaching and the interaction with students and seeing students grow in their knowledge and their understanding and also as people, and I didn’t really feel like teaching in a school was really what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. And so an opportunity came up with an organisation called myGCSE science. And they invited me to create videos for their platform. And while I started to do it part time, while I was still teaching, I realised that actually I wanted to spend more of my time and energy doing that I was really enjoying creating the videos really enjoying learning new skills that related to that. And so that was my opportunity to take a break from school teaching and get into creating videos full time. Having said that, I didn’t really take all of my time and that’s why I picked up tutoring as well, because I’ve kind of missed that direct interaction with students and also found that it was useful for me to keep in touch with the exam boards by actively teaching students who are going through the process as well. So, and the last couple of years, I’ve been doing the two alongside each other. So tutoring, to keep in touch with the students and what’s going on. And also, obviously to help them and get that student teacher interaction that I’m creating videos on the side originally for myGCSE science platform, but now, I’m going on and creating new videos for my myself and obviously for educ8all.

Vishal Bhogaita 6:26
Great, okay. And one of the things which I think your response to my first question about, you know, building a career in education that was interesting to me was the response that you gave in relation to transitioning from the research activities that you’re interested in. And then you went into how you saw certain things in India and Kenya, which made you think that teaching wasn’t quite the right thing for you at that stage in your life, but then obviously you transitioned to that later on. I’m curious as to whether there are parts of your career before teaching that inform the way that you work at the moment?

Ligaya Batten 7:09
Yeah, I mean, I would say that the main thing that has really become a part of what I do all the time of teaching is, is really the drawing links between subjects, which I think came very much from my training in Human Sciences, which was all about drawing links with the difference between the different sciences, the biological sciences, and social sciences, physical sciences, and all sorts of things. And really, ultimately, I feel like as a teacher, my responsibility isn’t just to teach children the spec points and how to pass exams, but to understand the value of science in everyday life and understand the importance of you know having at least a basic understanding of how things work, and for you know, for life in general. So I think that my original degree has been the most informative for me in that, in that sense, it’s really just become a part of how I do everything. In my teaching and tutoring, I just think it’s really important to understand the interconnections between the sciences as well as the links to between chemistry or science and, and everyday life. As well as that I think it’s not not directly related to the question, but you mentioned Kenya and India. And I think one of the things that I would like to see potentially in my future and perhaps in the future of education is more links between the Western world, the developed world and the and the less developed world in terms of education. And I think the internet is perfect for that. And I think that’s one of the reasons one of the driving forces behind me making video content is not…is to allow more links between different countries and allow resources to be pooled more. And obviously I’m just one person. But I think it’d be nice to see in the future of education to see more sharing of, of sharing of knowledge and sharing of expertise across different countries, especially where perhaps some countries have less funding or opportunity than others. And so I think that’s one of the values I see with internet education coming down forward into the future. And that’s what I think is really exciting to me.

Vishal Bhogaita 9:30
Great, okay. And so I fully understand the point you’re making there around the the more holistic approach to teaching science so that it goes beyond the specifications and I think that’s a very valuable and noble sort of purpose to sort of undertake. I just want to pull it back a bit because obviously, the the materials that we look to host on educ8all are aligned to specifications to make sure that they’re very relevant to the people that use to videos on the site. And your materials focus on A level chemistry. And obviously, at this level, the subject matter is naturally very complex. And there’s likely to be, you know, quite a lot of variability across the different exam board specifications. You hinted at this a little bit earlier when you talked about tutoring, but could you tell us a bit more about how you get to grips with the differences between the different specifications?

Ligaya Batten 10:26
Absolutely, yeah. I mean, it starts naturally when you’re a teacher by getting to grips with the specification you’re teaching at school, and not only understanding the specification points, but also what’s needed in terms of exam preparation. And then from from that basis, you just map the spec the specifications against each other and then highlight sections that are unique or missing in one or another. But what I have found over the course of making GCSE and A level courses is that all of the subjects covered broadly the same material and I normally find the differences are really in the approach in the examination and the style of questions. So in terms of the material that’s covered across the different specifications, it’s all very similar. So the differences that the students really are finding is in the style of questions they’re having to answer in the exam. Some of them have multiple choice questions, some have longer answer questions, perhaps differences in the way the practical exams are examined. But yeah, as I said, there’s not actually a lot of differences in terms of the subject matter between the boards. Just a couple of things here and there.

Vishal Bhogaita 11:37
Right, okay. And obviously, your previous role meant that you were creating video resources. What attracted you to creating these types of resources and why do you think they’re important and useful for subjects such as chemistry?

Ligaya Batten 11:52
Well, I think the first resouces that I was creating were for GCSE and there was sort of several, several reasons behind why I got into it as well as why I think they’re important in general and and I think that a lot of it comes down to the fact that a student’s especially at GCSE are sometimes forced to do science. You know, it’s a core subject, that everyone has to do and some people like it, but some people wouldn’t choose it if they didn’t have to. And so it’s a subject that definitely a lot of students struggle with and struggle to get to grips with. And, and on top of that, while I’m sure there are a lot of great teachers and lots of good schools around the country, I think there is also you know, quite quite a lack of specialist science teachers in a lot of schools, especially in some areas. So I think video resources, especially for subjects like chemistry, physics, maths, and some some specialist subjects like that are particularly useful for a, those students who struggle but also students who may be going to schools where there isn’t a specialist chemistry / physics teacher, for example. And therefore they can fill in some gaps perhaps that are left by the teachers, they do have the school and by by watching these videos also is that perhaps a more detailed and that they can also watch in their own time which I think is important too.

Vishal Bhogaita 13:15
Right. Okay, and how do you tend to use these videos with the people you provide tuition to?

Ligaya Batten 13:23
For the most part when I’m tutoring, it’s just a one to one tutoring. So I don’t tend to use the videos, even the videos that I’ve used. But if if obviously, I’ve spent a long time creating a video and a question comes up that I know the video answers very well then I’ll either go through the video in the class with them or I’ll set the video for them to watch either as a homework or as preparation. And that also very much comes into sort of linking to what you were saying in the last question about why I kind of got into creating the video resources is that there has been an Increase in this idea of flipped learning and blended learning the idea that students may watch a video ahead of the class to learn the content. And then the teacher is then able to use the class time to really check understanding and consolidate things for the students. So occasionally, I’ll use that kind of style as well, where, for example, recently a student was struggling with some of the required practicals at GCSE, and I’d already made videos that cover all of them. So I sent him a playlist with all the videos and then during the tutoring session, we would then go through and check that he understood the practical itself and also how the questions would be asked and we went through some practice questions, etc. So I think making… the videos can really help to build like a much more rounded style of teaching and for the student, some different sources of information which can be …which can be useful for them as well.

Vishal Bhogaita 14:58
Right. Okay, so I’d actually now like to move on and try to understand more about your production process for creating videos because you obviously have a wealth of experience under your belt. Could you just start with providing a bit of context in terms of the styles of your videos so do you tend to have a talking head format? Or do you use, say a presentation with a voiceover? What’s your preferred style? Or do you tend to mix and match?

Ligaya Batten 15:25
Originally the style was sort of set out for me by myGCSE science who I originally made content for and that that was the kind of presentation with voiceover style, and that was very much because they had different teachers doing different subjects, and they wanted things to kind of look consistent across the board. They’d also have an experience with a previous teacher and had seen what they thought was successful in terms of things like YouTube and engagement with students. So originally, all the resources I made were really like PowerPoint presentations slightly with slightly nicer graphics, and then just voiceover. But now…now I’m making videos on my own, I’ve decided to actually, it’s more, it’s more engaging, I think it’s more engaging for students to have some sort of connection with the teacher. So I think it’s really important to have my face in the video at some point. So, right now my…my approach is to introduce every video personally, as a video, you can see me talking, and then move into the presentation with voiceover style and kind of mix and match that so that they know who I am, can see that I’m a real person but then also have the familiarity of seeing a presentation with you know, scientific diagrams, perhaps. And then I would write on the screen some notes or labels for diagrams and things like that, that I think are useful for them in terms of taking notes rather than just having a person on the screen. So I think that mixture is where I think is the sweet spot. But yeah, things have developed over time. I’m sure they’ll continue to evolve as well.

Vishal Bhogaita 17:07
How does your style affect what kind of hardware and software you use? Are there specific microphones that you use, for example? Or do you tend to use just use your laptop to cover most of the hardware sort of lifting? And what other bits of software do you so you mentioned PowerPoint, but other other bits of software you use to record what gets presented on the screen?

Ligaya Batten 17:33
So again, the hardware and software for me has has evolved a little bit over time. I certainly think it’s possible to make perfectly good videos with just your laptop. Most laptops nowadays have pretty high quality webcams and pretty good quality microphones as well. But I do now use separate cameras and microphones, just because I find it easier to work with and slightly better audio quality. In terms of software, I did mention PowerPoints, but actually I use the Mac suite a little bit more now so I tend to use keynote more now for visuals. With the screenwriting, I started off using smart, which is used very widely in schools, but it’s actually not that accessible for individuals. And for my own personal and my own personal work, I started using an app called notability. And I found that that’s actually just as useful or even more useful sometimes than smart was. So now I’ve moved into using notability and for all my screen writing, and I use that in my tutoring as well. So most of the teaching I do is online, and I’ll share my screen with diagrams on screen writing, just in the same way as I would make the videos. As well…s I said, I’ve started filming myself more and that definitely has an increased the need for more hardware, for example cameras, and potentially some, some sort of set design as well as well as more need for editing software. So I’ve gotten into Premiere Pro now, whereas they used to use Camtasia, which was … it was an industry leader for screen capture. But now because I’m doing more video, I’m actually going into what’s now the industry standard for… for video editing. And so that’s definitely changed. It’s been a learning process to learn each of the different programmes, etc along the way that sort of comes naturally to me in some way and also it’s a natural evolution of the process.

Vishal Bhogaita 19:43
Sure, and how do you tend to upskill yourself on some of those kinds of things, say, is it a case of just watching videos on YouTube or do you go on something much more specialist than that?

Ligaya Batten 19:56
In the in the early days when I was just doing screen capture most of it was Really self taught some of the tutorials that come with the packages for example Camtasia. Some videos, for example, in YouTube, as I’ve gone into some of the more specialist software, I’ve done more formal courses, still online courses, but with a company called Udemy, which does a lot of I think I’m very good quality courses at a low price for things like video editing, and using the Adobe Suite, and things like that. So that might be my main source for learning for learning new, new skills, and especially when I think it’s kind of a package skill rather than just watching a video here and there, how do I do a specific task? I try to do a course on Udemy to kind of upskill myself on a particular area.

Vishal Bhogaita 20:47
Great. Okay, so just moving on to your process for creating your own videos, what’s involved in the preparation phase for creating the videos? how much detail do we sort of get down into In terms of planning? Do you use a storyboard to map out all the shots that you’re going to take or, or do you tend to be a lot more fluid in terms of how you work?

Ligaya Batten 21:11
I think it has, again, it has evolved over time. In general, the approach to making videos is I think quite similar to the approaches that most teachers would have in preparing a lesson. So obviously, every teacher will have a different style or different amount of detail that they’ll personally want to put into their lesson plans. And that will change from you know, whether they’re inexperienced to very experienced and I think the same thing has happened with video creation. I think in the first place, I really wanted to make sure I knew exactly what’s going to happen at each point in the video in terms of writing a script and doing a storyboard and that kind of thing, but I’ve found that in general, I prefer to have bullet points or kind of, you know, markers along the way rather than a full script because I prefer my videos to sound like I’m speaking more naturally and therefore not being fully scripted. But I do think it is important to storyboard in some way, in terms of, you know, like, as I said earlier, having an opening shot being me introducing the video, and then perhaps go into an example that would be screen capture and then going to perhaps another example, where there might be both me on the screen and something else on the screen from my computer. I think in terms of the structuring and what the visuals are in that way, I think it’s important to set that out and across across the video. So yeah, I think again, it’s evolved over time and but for the most part, it really mirrors what I would do to prepare for …for a class in teaching. So it hasn’t, the preparation side of things hasn’t been too much of a jump and I think for most teachers, it will be similar. And you prepare the presentation in a very similar way and then just with the added… with the added dimension for videos deciding what’s going to be on the screen at any one time,

Vishal Bhogaita 23:04
Right, okay. And then when you go into the actual recording part of the process, do you need more than one take to record what you’re doing because as you say you’ve got the markers and you prefer that fluid style of speaking, does that normally tend to result in a one take only sort of requirement? Or do you sometimes have to break it down into smaller components and do those individually?

Ligaya Batten 23:35
I’d say I do often break it down into smaller components. I think it takes a lot of practice and a lot of skill to do a video in one take. Some people can do it. And sometimes it has happened where I can, you know, do a certain section, perhaps just in one take, but I think in some ways, the more I plan and write and script, the more tapes I need, because I’m trying to achieve a particular outcome. Whereas if I’m going for a natural a natural kind of speaking style, then in some ways I need fewer takes. So that’s kind of the the balance that each person each creator has to make for themselves. And but I find that typically, I will, as I said, sketch out some key points I want to cover, and then probably do two to three takes for each point and then decide on which one I thought was the best or which one conveys the points better or links to the next point better. And so yeah, I would say generally about two or three takes depending on whether I’m on video at the same time as audio or if it’s just a screen capture.

Vishal Bhogaita 24:42
Right, okay. And then once you’ve recorded the video, you obviously take it into the editing part of the process, so you’ve decided which take you on to, to keep and put into video, and you presume you stitch the various scenes together. What are then the the quality assurance steps that you take, as you finalise the video to make sure it meets the standard that you that you want to maintain?

Ligaya Batten 25:10
Yeah, so I mean, the first thing that I would check nowadays is the audio quality, I found that depending on the environment you’re in, and the microphone you’ve used etc, that can really vary quite a lot. And I think that for video, it’s actually one of the most important things in terms of engagement with your audience. So one of the first things I’ll do is check the quality of the audio. And I’ll go through and remove background noise that’s distracting and things like that. And then in terms of once I’ve stitched the video together, I’ll just make sure I watch it through at least twice to make sure that I think everything’s understandable links together well, I normally also put what’s called motion graphics on there. So you know, words and pictures that come up on the screen. So I’ll make sure that those things are coming up. At the right time spellcheck, any keywords, things like that. And normally, I’ll try to make sure at least someone else other than me sees the video before I publish it. Because often, if you’re the only one making, making something, it’s very easy for you to miss the mistakes you made. So I think it’s very important to have a second eye if that’s possible, even if it’s just a friend or relative. And to just identify where perhaps … there’s a typo, or you miss said something, that kind of thing. And having said that, I think that the internet is in many ways, a great place to get some…to get crowd feedback. And while not everyone is happy with that… if it’s something on YouTube, or there’s a way for on a platform to report a mistake, you know, that can be a way of capturing initial errors that can then be edited and changed later on. As long as you’re not too much of a perfectionist. That can also be another way of quality…quality checking by kind of using your audience as well.

Vishal Bhogaita 27:04
Sure, and just hopefully going to an example if you’ve got onto hand,in terms of getting a second person to look over the video, do you ever find that you need to think about presenting a new idea differently? So, less so talking about the audio visual aspect, but more about the subject matter itself. Have you ever had to change your style to convey something that’s complex in a different way?

Ligaya Batten 27:35
Yes, actually, I mean, I don’t often have to do that. But there has been … there have been a couple of instances. One in particular that I can think about at GCSE, which was to do with calculating the reacting masses, which is a type of moles calculation. And I found having made my initial video that there was a lot of comments coming back from students who hadn’t learned it in the same way. And that does, to some extent, just come down to teaching style. And it turns out that there are two methods that are taught and some teachers will teach one and obviously others teaching the other. So with that, I’d I decided it was important to go back and make it clear that there were two methods. And then it was fine to use either method so I would have the one that I obviously set out, but then give the alternative way of working things out to make sure that students didn’t feel that they’ve been taught something wrong by their teacher or vice versa, that they that I was now teaching them something wrong. So I think, particularly with that as an example, there are some… some things that might have different approaches and both of which are good and valid. It’s just each, each person has different styles. I think it’s important in that sense to.. to adapt and to make it clear to students, that sort of thing. In terms of explaining a particular one concept differently, I haven’t had to do that as far as I recall beyond, beyond perhaps just adding a bit of detail and explanation or changing the way the visuals come up to match my audio, because perhaps the first time or the first watching, and perhaps it was a bit confusing to a lay person. So, I have had instances where I’ve maybe added detail or change what I say, and but not in terms of like an overall, you know, completely different approach but it’s definitely useful to have that feedback, particularly from a lay person if, if that’s possible, just to see to see how it comes across to someone else.

Vishal Bhogaita 29:44
I think what’s been really interesting to hear you speak about on this episode is how you’ve evolved as a video content creator. And I’m just wondering, are there any lessons that you’ve learned along the way that you wished you knew earlier and would want to share with people who are perhaps novices?

Ligaya Batten 30:06
Yeah, so I think I mentioned audio quality earlier. But I think that’s the first thing I would talk about is in terms of making sure that the quality of your audio is good. And obviously, to some extent, making sure that you’ve got a quiet background and things like that might be quite straightforward. And even if you don’t have a great mic, there are some free and some paid programs that make it quite easy to process that audio afterwards to limit background noises, bangs, distracting noises, echoes, etc. I think that audio quality is one thing that I wish I’d nailed at the beginning and definitely didn’t. And, and then the second thing I think would be, again, I alluded to this earlier, planning ahead is really important. You do want to have a clear roadmap of what your video is going to look like. But I would say don’t plan too much, because it is important that you come across in a natural way to the viewer. And so do you think It’s important not to script absolutely everything, especially for this type of video. Somebody is obviously will lend themselves more to a script that I think as a teacher teaching concepts that you would teach in a classroom, you wouldn’t script your lesson and so I would approach creating video content in the same way.

Vishal Bhogaita 31:19
Sure. Okay. That’s been really helpful to go through with you, Ligaya. Thank you so much for that. The last thing I just want to touch on is, I don’t think we’ve really talked enough about the type of content you’re bringing on educ8all. So it would be good for you to just tell us a bit more about what you’ll be launching soon on the site.

Ligaya Batten 31:37
Absolutely. So I’m currently working on producing videos that cover the A level chemistry course. So as you said earlier, educ8all is all about matching and matching videos to the specification. So I’m originally initially going to be launching an OCR A chemistry course. And perhaps later on, I’ll be releasing videos that will cover and match other boards, for example, AQA and Edexcel. And so yeah, initially I’ll be, I’ll be releasing courses as batches. So topic based courses, that over the course of the next year or so I imagine that I will build up to the entire course, the entire course being available online for students to see, as well as the video resources as well. I think it’s important to have some sort of worksheets, note sheets, that kind of thing, go along with videos. So ideally, again, as I continue to evolve, and as the platform and the videos evolve, I hope to be able to package up the video resources with the complimentary resources that will help… help students to consolidate their learning and practise what they’ve learned.

Vishal Bhogaita 32:49
Excellent. I really look forward to hosting it on the site. Ligaya, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Ligaya Batten 32:55
Thank you very much for having me.

Vishal Bhogaita 32:57
Thank you.

It is perhaps not unusual to hear a science educator talk of evolution so often, but here it was in relation to her career and honing her craft. I thought there was some good insight into how Ligaya has continued to develop her skill set so that she can teach with greater impact in her videos. As always, I hope this inspires you. If you are interested in uploading materials to educ8all, do reach out via the website contact form social media, or trusty email to info@. You can also find information about getting started on educ8all in the guidance part of the website. Don’t forget you can find links to Ligaya’s courses in the show notes and the social media posts that accompany the release of this episode. If you’ve got this far, thank you very much for listening. You may have noticed more artefacts than usual. Ligaya and I were based in different countries at the time of recording. We used Zoom and had a couple of hiccups with the recording but persevered. I hope you agree that we delivered an episode of genuine insight into how an experienced content creator works. Finally the last message but by no means the least, please do like and share the podcast. Knowing that the podcast is scoring well with you the listener gives me the motivation to create more episodes. Don’t forget to hit that subscribe or follow button too.

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