Instructor Insights

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 20.219 Becoming the Next Bill Nye: Writing and Hosting the Educational Show as it was taught by Elizabeth Choe, Jaime Goldstein, Chris Boebel, George Zaidan, Joshua Gunn, and Natalie Kuldell in IAP 2015.

This course gives students the opportunity to script and on-screen host 5-minute YouTube science, technology, engineering, and/or math-related shows to inspire youth to consider a future in science. Workshop-style lectures, with industry guest speakers, focus on developing students’ basic scripting, hosting, and video production skills in the context of understanding digital media literacy, K-12 education, science advocacy, and engaging a lay audience. Students critically analyze case studies of popular hosts and shows in addition to completing iterative, project-based assignments and peer-critiques, culminating in a 5-minute final episode.

Selected groups have the opportunity to continue optional development of episodes with a professional production crew for the MIT+K12 Videos Science Out Loud series during the final week of IAP .

Learn more here:

Choe, E. “Video Production as a Pathway for Building Identity,SSRN, May 16, 2017.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

After taking this course, students should be able to:

  • Thoughtfully and clearly communicate science, technology, engineering, and/or math topics to a lay audience in an engaging manner - textually, visually, and verbally
  • Understand the media production process - from design to premiere of their own videos
  • Develop their own hosting and scripting style stemming from an understanding of what makes a successful communicator and guide
  • Critically analyze video-based entertainment and education, particularly in the context of K-12 students
  • Transfer video production skills to future projects

Instructor Insights


In the following short videos, Elizabeth Choe and three guest lecturers describe various aspects of how they taught 20.219 Becoming the Next Bill Nye.

In the following pages, Elizabeth Choe and Jaime Goldstein describe various aspects of how they taught _20.219 Becoming the Next Bill Nye._

Curriculum Information


Instructor permission

Requirements Satisfied



20.219 is a Selected Topics course in Biological Engineering; different offerings feature different topics. This was the first semester that Becoming the Next Bill Nye was offered.


The students’ grades were based on the following activities:

  • 25% Class participation
  • 20% Daily blog/vlog reflections
  • 25% Workshop products
  • 30% Final project

Class participation

  • Because this was a workshop-based course, and because sessions built upon each other, it was crucial for students to attend every class.
  • Meaningful peer feedback was crucial throughout the production process, and students were expected to be involved and engaged in this workshop-based class (discussions, table reads, rough cut annotations, etc.) 

    Read More/Read Less

    Daily blog/vlog reflections

    • Students were expected to upload documentation of their process/difficulties/lessons learned in completing assignments or insights gained from class workshops. This took the form of a written blog post reflection, photos, a “selfie” video (<2 min.), or other creative media format of their choice.
    • Daily assignments were graded on a three-point scale of good, sufficient, or incomplete (or a zero for no or late work).

    Workshop products

    • Working independently or in small teams, students produced iterations of their final project components (scripts, storyboards, scenes, rough cuts, etc.)
    • Documents for reading assignments were posted on Annotation Studio. Students commented the documents with their responses to the readings and to their classmates. These assignments were graded on a three-point scale of good, sufficient, or incomplete (or a zero for no work).

    Final project

    Students’ work culminated in a <5 min. episode. Individual grades reflected 65% of a student’s own work (script, hosting, etc.) and 35% the production he or she did for his or her partner (filming).


    The following were our class values, and all assignments were graded with these qualities in mind:


    • Clarity
    • Thoughtfulness
    • Challenge

    We provided students with feedback (numerical and written) on all assignments using a rubric built around these values.

    Instructor Insights on Assessment

    The grading schema for this course was adapted from Chris Peterson and Edward Schiappa’s Spring 2015 offering of a course called CMS.400 Media Systems and Texts. I (Elizabeth), did not take this course, but Chris Peterson, the lead instructor for the course, and a close friend, was designing the syllabus for CMS.400 at the same time I was developing the syllabus for 20.219. CMS.400 was failry analogous to 20.219 (except that it was about internet culture instead of internet video), so I was able to easily modify the grading scheme to work for 20.219. I appreciated the insipiration that the CMS.400 syllbus provided because I hadn’t ever taken a class in the format in which I was trying to teach. I was learning as I went along. In the end, the majority of the class assignments (daily blogs, peer feedback) were graded on a three-point scale of good, sufficient, or incomplete (or a zero for no work). I completed assignments along with the students so as to provide points of reference for expected effort. We emphasized thoughtfulness toward process rather than churning out a product (however, product quality was also grade.

Student Information


Fewer than 10 students

Breakdown by Year

The class included undergraduate and graduate students from MIT, along with exchange students from Singapore University of Technology and Design.

Breakdown by Major

Participants came from a variety of schools, departments, and programs including the Sloan School of Management, Naval Architecture, Math, Mechanical Engineering and D-Lab.

Enrollment Cap


How Student Time Was Spent

During this 3-week course, students were expected to spend 20 hours per week, roughly divided as follows:

In Class

  • Met 5 times per week for 3 hours per session; 13 sessions total; mandatory attendance.
  • Class sessions included lectures and workshops related to the educational video genre and the media production process.
  • Several class sessions included opportunities for students to work one-on-one with the teaching staff, which included the instructors, a teaching assistant, and guest lecturers.

Out of Class

Students wrote daily blog/vlog reflections, completed readings, and created iterations of their final project components.

Learning Resource Types
Lecture Videos
Projects with Examples
Instructor Insights