I agree! The second video works much better. The closer framing helps provide a greater sense of engagement with the lecturer – something that is obviously lost to a degree when students are not in an actual classroom with the professor – so anything to compensate for it improves the experience.
I’ve seen other MOOCs that also feature cuts to a real classroom and exchanges between students and professors, but I felt these only worked when properly edited to simulate the feel of an active discussion where the questioners are carefully selected to act as interesting stand-ins for the online learner. I’ve also seen MOOCs that simply rely upon the professor lecturing with occasional visual props in the background or cuts to maps, images, etc. that worked perfectly fine without any simulated interaction between lecturer and learners.
We will also use text, which can be read and reread, along with footage in China. A film crew will spend a few days at different sites in China while I am there in the coming months. And I like to use on street interviews (brief) in order to identify common positions, if not misperceptions.
I might prefer the first video myself. Maybe just because I like those boots, but also because it seems more personable somehow to see the whole person and not just a talking head. Actually, you probably should alternate between long shots and closeups. That’s my opinion anyway.