Video is a powerful medium that has the potential to engage students (and educators), aid in student mastery and allow students to practice crucial 21st-century skills. It is no wonder that news stories have morphed into video segments and that YouTube is one of the most popular, searchable sites in the world.
But before we, as educators, integrate video into instruction, here are four points to consider:
- Plan strategically. Each activity should have a clearly defined objective. Having access to the internet and myriad resources, as well as scores of ed tech tools, can cause us to lose our sense of purpose. Video, with its dynamic realism, offers an opportunity to broaden minds, clarify complex points, and add a layer of exposure and diversity for students. Are we using the powerful medium of video—either self-made or carefully curated—to accomplish these or other objectives?
- Be selective. Again, because we labor in an era of both information overload and resource fatigue, it is important to be selective in what resources we use, and when. We must also evaluate the messages and images that we allow our students to put forth and to consume.With this understanding, educators can curate videos that will provide background information and meaningful context for instruction. This background knowledge is crucial for strengthening literacy, for instance, as well as other content areas. Many educational platforms, such as National Geographic Kids, U.S. National Archives and Khan Academy, offer specific, ready-made video for cross-curricular use. Common Sense Media suggests that educators consider: Will videos serve as instructional resources or as supplements? Both can help increase student mastery and engagement.
- Ensure that students are active learners. Simply consuming videos is not enough. We must urge students to take an active role in learning. By doing so, we are setting a path for scholars who can evaluate a source of information and weigh its strengths and weaknesses. It is important that we engage students in a dialogue before, during and after the creation or viewing of video, and allow students to respond critically and give feedback. The U.S. National Archives offers resources to aid students in evaluating video for contextual understanding and for extracting information to make informed judgments—the cornerstone of critical thinking.
- Encourage creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. Modeling these skills is a vital step. Educators can create their own videos to clarify content, provide feedback on student work and reinforce expectations. Alternatively, student-made videos allow students’ voices to be amplified. Through green screen apps or video response tools, students can clarify their thinking, expand on a concept or craft a part of a project. Teachers and students can also annotate, remix or embed questions into videos. When attached to a link, these videos, both teacher-made and student-created, are easily shared, archived, or posted on a website or learning management system.
Simply consuming videos is not enough. We must urge students to take an active role in learning.
With these guidelines in place, teachers can begin to use video as part of instruction. Start small with tools like Screencastify and Flipgrid, and set a goal of allowing students to become the experts and to master green screening and simple video editing. Video is a dynamic tool that can empower, engage and aid in student mastery of complex concepts.
Rosalyn Washington is a digital learning specialist for literacy and an adjunct professor of education. She is always eager to talk about literacy, young children, educational policy, ed tech, research and data (not necessarily in that order). Washington was a featured speaker for FETC.