The Do’s and Don’ts for Teaching with Videos

It’s been a little more than a year since I started experimenting with video lectures and with flipping my classroom, and I absolutely love it. It seems my students love it too! …as long as they don’t have to do the videos as homework. But then, I believe students dislike most things they have to do as homework. It’s part of growing up.

My Video Journey

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-12-08-58-pmI didn’t always love my video lecture journey, however. Like most journeys in life, this one has had its ups and downs. Last year, I turned almost all of my vocabulary lessons into videos. The students had to watch the videos as homework, and they had to make a foldable to prove that they watched the video that week. Then, they would have a vocabulary quiz every Friday. They hated it. Not because they disliked the videos themselves, but because they had to do them as homework outside of class. When I gave the lectures in class, or when I gave the students time to watch the videos and make their foldables in class, they scored better on their quizzes. And if we’re being honest, I got a bit sick of the videos by the end of the year as well. Not because they didn’t work, but because it is a lot of work to plan, film, and edit a vocabulary video every week. I would spend hours making the videos every Monday after school, and I got to a point where I dreaded making them. Eventually, I stopped making them all together. They weren’t as effective as the live vocabulary lectures, so giving live lectures became more efficient.

This year, I’ve modified my approach to the video lectures. While I will still expect my freshmen students to watch the vocabulary videos as homework every week, I’ve made several more video lectures on grammar and writing concepts for the students to watch in class. Unlike last year, the response from my students has been overwhelmingly positive. The students prefer video lectures because they can learn at their own pace by pausing the lecture to write down an important concept. They can rewind me if they missed an important point, or they can fast forward through information they already know. Since each video is between ten to fifteen minutes long, it usually takes the students thirty to forty-five minutes to take their notes. This leaves time at the end of class for a live review of the information in the form of a question and answer session, a brief group activity, or some sort of exit-ticket.

Student Feedback

I don’t know about you, but I can recall a time or two when I’ve felt exceptionally confident about a lesson in class, yet after grading the students’ assignments I realize my super successful lesson was actually a bust. To avoid a false sense of accomplishment, I decided to actually ask my students how they feel about the videos they’ve been using in class for the past six weeks. I created a simple Google Form with only three questions:

  1. How do you feel about receiving lectures about new content via video instead of via live lecture?
  2. Please explain why you feel the way you do about the video lectures.
  3. What can I do differently with the video lectures to improve your learning experience?

I then asked my students to take a moment to answer the questions on the form. Take a look at the data below:

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Wow, I can’t believe I had so few students student say they dislike or hate it! I mean, they are teenagers, and if you’ve ever polled a large group of teenagers about school work before, you would naturally expect quite a few “dislikes” or “hates” here or there.

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Obviously these aren’t all of the responses, but they responses were overwhelmingly the same: students like being able to pause, rewind, and fast forward the videos so they can work at their own pace. Also, apparently the second to last kid finds the video format more fun. We’ll see how much longer that lasts!

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I was really pleased with most of these responses. Several students suggested I include a summary of what they learned at the end, which I always think about doing when I start creating the videos, but then forget to do at the end. I’ll have to work on that. I also had quite a few students suggest that I change nothing at all, which is nice to hear. Of course, many of the students still want the videos to be shorter, and while I can’t really make them any shorter than they already are, this just proves that students want to learn as efficiently as possible. In the students’ minds, the shorter the video, the better it is.

Do’s and Don’ts for Teaching with Videos

  • Do make your own videos rather than pulling a video off of YouTube. This allows you to tailor the videos to fit your specific curriculum and your specific students.
  • Don’t be afraid to insert clips of YouTube videos into your lectures! I like inserting TedEd videos into my video lessons to illustrate a point and to keep kids engaged. You can download most YouTube videos by opening keepvid.com in Firefox.
  • Do keep your videos as short as possible. Remember, the students need to pause and rewind the video to take notes. Depending on how note-heavy your video is, it may take the average student thirty to forty-five minutes to take notes using a ten minute video! Yes, we want our students to learn, but remember that their attention span is limited and their time is precious.
  • Don’t be afraid to make jokes or be goofy in your videos. Students are attracted to teachers who allow themselves to be slightly vulnerable. Set your pride aside, and allow your nerdy self to emerge in all your punny glory!
  • Do use PowerPoint, Keynote, or some other program to make easy to read visuals with important information.
  • Don’t expect your students to read a novel on each screen. Keep your notes as brief as possible.
  • Do change the image on the screen frequently. There’s nothing worse than staring at the same screen for five minutes as a disembodied voice talks at you. Break up the information into several smaller slides and flip back and forth between the information on the page, and video of you talking to emphasize important points and to help students know what they do and don’t need to write down into their notes.
  • Don’t forget to remind students to take notes using your desired format. I have my students use the Cornell notes method, so my videos are designed to remind students to copy the essential question onto their notes at the beginning, and to chunk, question, summarize, and highlight their notes at the end.
  • Do include a recap at the end of the video reminding students of the key points.
  • Don’t make your videos longer than necessary. The shorter, the better.
  • Do show your face in the video. I use the camera on my computer to record myself, and I use the QuickTime app on my computer to simultaneously record two videos: one of myself using the camera, and one of my screen using the screen recording feature.
  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep. When you first start making videos for your students, you will spend hours editing the video until it is perfect. If you promise one video per week, your students and their parents will expect you to stick to that promise, and you’ll hate yourself for it. Trust me, I know this from experience. Instead, give yourself permission to only create videos as you’re able. Your library will grow as the years pass, so don’t kill yourself trying to make every lecture a video.
  • Do make your videos predictable by using the same format for each video. Our students benefit from routine in the classroom, and they also benefit from routine in the videos. Use the same structure for every video so the students know where to find the information they need.
  • Don’t over use videos in the classroom. Yes, my students enjoy the video lectures this year, but that’s because we do much more in my classroom than take notes on videos. Our first meeting of the week is video-free and dedicated to vocabulary. Our second meeting every week usually involves a short video lecture for the first half of the period, and then we apply what we’ve learned from that lecture during the second half of the period. The last meeting of the week is dedicated to some sort of project, activity, or assignment that requires the students to use the information learned in the video. Yes, students benefit from routine, but they can also fall victim to monotony. As with every teaching strategy, this strategy is only successful when used in moderation and in conjunction with other strategies and various groupings.

Are you sold on creating video lectures? Check out the video at the top of the page to learn how I make my videos!

If you want to see some of my video lectures yourself, you can check them out using one of the links below. If you have any do’s and don’ts for creating video lectures, please add them to the comments below! Thanks for reading!

 

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