Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Making the Most Out of Classroom Videos

Watching instructional videos has been a part of classrooms for a long time.  As we've gotten a few weeks into our work with Chromebooks I've heard of several teachers using them to deliver instruction through video.  With so much great content out there, it comes as no surprise that this would be one of the first benefits we'd make use of.  I can't help but think back to how the use of visual media in classrooms has changed over time.

Some of us remember the old film reels, or hoping we could be the lucky student that got to move the slide at the sound of the beep.  Next, we were on to VHS tapes and televisions in classrooms.  DVDs got in the mix, and soon we could project a nice, big picture on our screen that previously only saw light from our overhead projector.

Now, we have the Internet and all that comes with it.  We can find content on YouTube, YouTube EDU, Teacher Tube, Vimeo, Khan Academy, and other sites.  We can find it quickly, it is always there for us, and we don't have to worry about returning it on time if we borrowed it.  We can even make our own!  As classrooms move to more blended and flipped learning environments, videos have an even larger part in student instruction.

What used to be a whole class activity can now take an individualized approach.  Everyone can still watch the same video, but a teacher can now have groups or individuals watching different videos at the same time. The teacher can also move away from leading the entire group through the video, and  have time for conversation with individuals or groups in class while the remainder of the class is still involved with the task.

While this substitution is easy enough we also have some extra benefits that are worth knowing about.  Along with watching a video in class we usually have students either taking notes or answering questions about what the video is covering.  There are some tools that can help achieve those tasks!  Both of these are simple to use and add some great benefits.

One is VideoNot.es, a simple and open-source tool that allows students to take synchronized notes with videos.  After a note is taken, students can click on the line of notes and the video will go back to the relevant part.  Best of all, it is integrated with Google Drive.  This allows students to have their notes saved automatically with the availability to refer back to them, and the video, later.  The notes can also be shared with others just like other Google Docs.  

Another is eduCanon.  This is another free tool (a premium version is available with some extra features) that will help with student engagement, holds them accountable, and lets you monitor understanding of the video's content.  It also helps you move a lesson to a more "flipped" experience.  With eduCanon, you can tie questions and other html items into the video.  Your students will answer the questions when they come to them and provide you with live feedback. Take a moment to watch this introduction.

If you try either of these tools in your classroom let me know.  I'd like to know what you think and how it went for you!