Students look to YouTube for extra help

Video series by math professor proves invaluable

Many students continue to struggle with online education as they juggle work, school and family life in a less than ideal learning environment. 

Like other schools around the country, Del Mar College has switched to online classes to help stop the spread of COVID-19, forcing students to meet online who were not quite ready to do so. 

Nell Atkinson, an engineering major and bakery specialist at H-E-B, found himself overwhelmed when in-school classes were first canceled.

“I was trying to juggle working full time, homeschooling my four girls and keeping up with my own courses. There were several times I wanted to quit, just give up,” Atkinson said.

Before the shutdown, Atkinson was enrolled in a hybrid math course and was moving onto the harder part of the class: college algebra. Losing that face-to-face interaction with his math professor during the hardest part of the class was devastating. He now had to depend on MyMathLab videos, which he found too confusing to follow, so he did what most students would do, he turned to YouTube. Luckily for him he found another Del Mar professor’s videos as he desperately searched online for help.  

Professor Tim Precella has been teaching at Del Mar College for over 30 years, and his public YouTube channel is a treasure trove of instructional math videos that cover everything from algebra to statistics in an easy to follow, step-by-step format. 

According to Precella, the college had purchased document cameras for the classrooms and he wanted to take advantage of them to help students.

Tim and Anthony Precella, math professors at Del Mar College, began preparing for the possibility of virtual learning because of the hurricane threat that comes with living along the coast. “When this pandemic started, we were prepared for it, at least workwise,” Tim Precella said.

“It just seemed so logical to record the lectures for students who are absent,” Precella said.

The videos are mostly recorded during his lectures and are very similar to what students would see on their homework and tests. 

Because Precella lives on the Gulf Coast, he and his brother, Professor Anthony Precella, have been preparing for a sudden transition to online learning for many years.

“Our worry was what happened if there was a hurricane and the buildings on campus were destroyed,” he said. “We wanted our students to be able to continue their coursework. So, when this pandemic started, we were prepared for it, at least workwise.”  

Those lecture videos are now priceless for students, who like Atkinson, are seeking extra help in their studies. 

“I am the type of student that needs the student/teacher interaction,” Atkinson said. “Because the videos are filmed in a class, there are questions asked. When he would ask a question, I gave an answer. I need that interaction.” 

Instead of giving up and dropping out of his math class, Atkinson said he passed with a high B thanks to Precella’s YouTube videos. 

According to Precella, there are many free resources at Del Mar available to math students such as online tutoring through the Math Learning Center or, which is available through Canvas. 

“If a math student is having problems with an assignment, they should search YouTube for videos with the name of their assignment,” Precella said. “Then click through those videos until you find one that is teaching the material they need to know in an understandable format.”

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