An educator’s guide to teaching with video
Using educational video content in your courses can help better engage students and illustrate important concepts. This can work especially well for remote and distance learning, but is also helpful for hybrid and in-person classes. “Blended learning” is a relatively new term in education that allows students to learn in part through online learning and to have some control over where, when, and how they work. One effective way to incorporate blended learning is to use videos to teach specific ideas and then use valuable class time for in-depth discussions or conduct enrichment activities on the same topic.
Blended learning is a proven way to increase the effectiveness of your teaching. In a study conducted by the University of Iowa, 95 percent of students enrolled in blended learning courses earned a grade of C-minus or higher, compared to 82 percent of students in traditional lectures, and 81 percent of online-only students. Blended learning methods work well in K-12 classrooms, as well as higher education.
Aside from using video for blended learning, they can also enhance your traditional classroom environment. Multimedia adds variety to instruction and can also be a way to engage learners in projects to illustrate what they are learning.
Shift eLearning reports 40 percent of learners respond better to visual information than text alone. This is because images are easily digestible, interactive, and more engaging. Using videos for educational purposes can also help students develop media and digital literacy, which is an important skill, for any consumer of online media, but also in higher education and professional development.
Creating video content for students
The video content you create and feature in your courses will largely depend on the grade you’re teaching, as well as the type of classroom you have. For example, video content for a second-grade science class will be vastly different from a college-level psychology course.
There are several different ways you can create educational videos, including through classic filmmaking techniques and the use of editing software. Before you start creating videos for your classroom, you should consider the following:
- The concepts you want to communicate.
- The best way to connect to your students.
- The type of video that will meet your goals without exceeding your resources and abilities.
Once you know this information, you are ready to get started on your video creations.
Synchronous vs. asynchronous videos
Synchronous videos are two-way communications with no delay. For example, a zoom conference would be a synchronous video, because both the teacher and the students can respond to information in real time. The benefits of using synchronous videos include:
- Real-time collaboration
- Quicker response times
- Build trust and social bonds
- Higher material engagement
Asynchronous videos are one-way communications. A pre-recorded lecture would be an example of an asynchronous video. These types of videos are often most associated with blended learning. The benefits of asynchronous videos include:
- Deep focus during study
- Increased retention due to repeatability
- Flexibility and accessibility
- Cover more material due to fewer distractions
Synchronous and asynchronous videos are both great tools for creating a blended classroom. Synchronous videos are often more suited for remote learners who may not have other set times to interact with their teachers, while asynchronous videos provide learners with flexibility for when, where, and how often they will access the video. Whether you use either or both will depend on your classroom type and student needs.
Video creation tools and applications
Recording video is the first step in creating a video for your class. It’s relatively easy and inexpensive and there are several tools available that work for bothsynchronous and asynchronous video creation. These tools are free or low cost and usually have special offers for teachers and students. Some of these tools include:
- Google Classroom: Google Classroom partners with Google Drive to host the things your classroom needs, including student profiles, assignments, and grading, as well as instructional tools including videos. With Google classroom, you can make asynchronous videos, as well as host synchronous conferences with the Google Meet integration.
- Blackboard: Blackboard is an education portal for students and teachers. Similar to Google Classroom, you can create and share files, videos, and grades, while students can submit assignments and check grades. However, Blackboard does not have a synchronous video hosting integration, meaning any live videos will have to be hosted on another platform.
- Adobe Connect: Adobe Connect allows you and your students to access many of the same resources as Blackboard and Google Classroom, including both synchronous and asynchronous video hosting. However, Adobe Connect also offers advanced tracking tools for engagement during class. The tracking data can help you better tailor lessons to your students’ needs. Additionally, Adobe Connect has specific resources for students with accessibility needs.
- Zoom: Zoom is one of the most popular synchronous video hosting platforms. While you can use the standard platform to host virtual class meetings for free for up to 40 minutes, Zoom also has an education plan specifically for teachers. This allows for longer meetings and meeting recordings. Recorded video can be made available for asynchronous learning.
- YouTube: Owned by Google, YouTube is the largest video-sharing platform in the world. It allows you to record and store asynchronous videos for a later date, as well as host live videos. However, when hosting live video, YouTube only allows participants to interact via comments. This is sufficient for some synchronous video, such as demonstrations or lectures where audience participation is not sought.
For some of these tools, like Blackboard, you will need to have educator credentials to create an account. Other tools, like YouTube, are free and open to the public. If you require a paid account to unlock premium features, check to see what type of educational discounts are available.
Video editing software
Once you have created a video, you’ll want to edit and upload it. Editing a video can mean many things — cutting out mistakes, resizing your video for different platforms, and even adding closed-captioning, as well as inserting things like transitions and other effects.
It’s important to have at least basic editing software on your work/school device. Some tools allow you to edit video from your mobile device, however, most people find it easier to edit on a larger screen, such as a desktop monitor.
Some video editing software to help you create high-quality education materials includes:
- Adobe Premiere Rush: Adobe Premiere Rush is a simplified tool to easily make quality video and sound edits.
- Adobe Premiere Pro: Adobe Premiere Pro is a great tool for general to more-advanced editing. You can incorporate audio, text, and video clips to capture the attention of students with varying learning styles.
- Adobe Animate: Adobe Animate is a fantastic tool for adding animated elements to your videos. It’s most useful for character and flash animation, in tandem with a more general editor like Premiere.
- Adobe After Effects: Adobe After Effects is a superb software for motion graphics and general special effects. If you’re looking to use your videos outside of your classroom, or post them publicly, After Effects is a great way to improve the quality of your work.
Each of these programs offers different resources for teachers with different experience levels, from beginner to advanced. The type of editing and video production software you’ll need will depend largely on what you’re trying to do with your videos. For example, Adobe Animate is perfect for creating animated characters and elements, but wouldn’t be the best general video editor, like Premiere Rush or Premiere Pro.
Teaching strategies for video
Learning different video creation techniques, for both asynchronous and synchronous videos, is a good way to keep your content engaging, unique, and effective. Teaching to a camera can be very different from teaching to a classroom, particularly if you aren’t used to it. The following techniques can help you:
- Teach to the camera: This is the first, and one of the most important techniques you can use. When it comes to video learning, the camera is your student. It’s important to keep the camera’s eyeline at the forefront of all you’re doing so that the student can have the best view. You may be tempted to look at yourself, or other students, particularly if you’re conferencing live. However, according to Speaker Dynamics, keeping solid eye contact with your webcam can increase feelings of connectivity, which can improve retention and engagement.
- Speak clearly: This is another crucial part of creating educational videos. When you speak, you should speak clearly, and as directly into the microphone as possible. It doesn’t matter if you are sharing the world’s best content if none of your students can understand you. Investing in a lavalier mic is a great way to improve the sound quality of your videos.
- Create a “set”: As Kelly Warfield wrote for the Character Exchange teachers’ network, environment is an important part of education, even when you’re creating virtual education tools. Creating a set can not only get you in the right headspace but using the same set can also signal to students that what they’re seeing is part of their learning experience. This should help you put them in the right headspace. You’ll want to make sure that the set you create is minimally distracting, as it’s meant to be a backdrop, not a focus. This includes limiting colors, items, and even choosing softer lighting.
- Use the same tools you would use in the classroom: If you would use aids, such as a whiteboard, while teaching in the classroom, it’s important to still use those while teaching on video. This can be something like a physical whiteboard you set up on the screen, or a digital whiteboard that you can screen share. This is also important for retention and engagement for students. Some students are visual learners and rely on visual aids to fully understand something, while other students are audial learners, and can understand lessons through lectures.
- Have a clear point or goal: Anytime you sit down to make an educational video or host a conference, you need to have a clear goal in mind. This will help you make better, more-focused content that students can easily retain. For example, if you’re creating a video about a reading assignment, then you should have a theme, event, or scholarly argument in mind to contextualize the assignment. While you may open up for further discussion, having this goal creates a starting point for both you and the students to operate from.
Other aids included in your videos during editing, like transcripts and closed captioning, can make your videos more accessible to students with hearing impairments, as well as easier to produce. If you’re following a script, you’re less likely to forget what you need to say, which will make for clearer content.
Types of educational videos
Different types of educational videos can also increase engagement in blended classes. Different types of videos include:
Creating a video type that serves your main goal can increase retention and clarity of your objective. For example, if you’re teaching a math formula, then a simple whiteboard video is a great tool. It gives a step-by-step visual that puts the focus on the formula, making it easier for students to tune out distractions.
Using non-educational videos in the classroom
When using other videos besides your own in the classroom, be selective and purposeful. The clips you show should emphasize points in the lesson objectives, rather than be a distraction. Additionally, it’s crucial to make sure the media is age-appropriate and accurate by viewing it ahead of time. This gives you time to fact-check if the media isn’t from an accredited or authoritative source.
There are several online video libraries from authoritative sources for you to choose from when creating a lesson. For example, TEDTalk offers a video library of past speeches given by experts. Adobe also offers an educational video library, which is a great classroom resource. The Library of Congress video collection is another free resource educators can use — it’s full of authoritative content.
If you’re going to use content from a non-authoritative source, make sure it still informs the lesson. For example, using a viral video from Twitter as an example of propaganda and how it works in today’s age can be a great, engaging lesson. It’s important that when you do this, you disclaim the video and explain it’s from a non-expert source before viewing. Applying digital literacy best practices to how you select video content will be a good example to your students as they choose media sources on their own.
Ways to assign videos for learning objectives and assignments
As an educator, you can also assign video projects to students. This will help them learn skills such as editing, public speaking, creative planning, and more. Some examples of video assignments could include:
- Multimedia projects
- Video presentations
- Video essays
- Skits and short films
Using video creation as a part of an assignment is a great way for you to make an average assignment — for example, a book report — more engaging. Through this, students have a higher chance of absorbing more of the material and retaining it longer because they are interacting with it in more than one way.
Ways to share your videos with others outside the classroom
If you’re interested in posting your educational videos publicly, for other students or educators to use, there are several ways you can do that. Some hosting platforms that will give those outside your classroom access to your videos include:
- Public video hosting sites: Sites like YouTube and Vimeo are perhaps the easiest way to share your content with a wider audience. Before you post, consider using tools like SafeShare, which is compatible with Google Classroom, and gives you more control over your privacy settings.
- Cloud services: Cloud-based services are ideal for easy, but “private” sharing. Services like Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive help you generate shareable links or files that you can give out at your leisure, as well as make public.
- Social media: Social media, like public video hosting sites, is another way that you can share your videos with a wider audience. When posting to social media, you may have less privacy control over who sees and shares your videos, so you want to be cognizant of that before posting.
- Hosting or embedding on personal websites: Sharing your videos to your personal website is a great way to have the most control over video quality and sharing, as well as be a great way to start a portfolio of your original educational materials. You can also password-protect pages and other assets on your website, making it easy for students to have more, or different, access than the general public.
In some cases, you can even earn money for the videos you share publicly, depending on the platform you use as well as the size of your audience. But in every case of a video that includes students, be sure to have a signed media release from the student, or their parent if they are a minor, before making it publicly available.
For more reading about blended classrooms and the use of video as educational materials, check the resources below:
- ERIC: The Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) is a federal government-sponsored site that hosts educational resources for students and teachers. It’s an article directory filled with research on different educational happenings, including blended learning.
- Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC): NGLC is an organization dedicated to student-first learning. It has several resources on current events in education, as well as tools for educators, including community forums, programs, and services.
- Adobe e-Learning Archives: The Adobe e-learning archives houses several resources for e-learning, including video learning. These archives include educational and informative blog posts.
Blended and online learning continues to grow in popularity because of its proven benefits and accessibility. Applying these techniques in your classroom — such as with educational videos — is a great way to keep your students engaged and stay on top of new and exciting education trends.