After advocating for video as a tool in the flipped classroom for many years now, I feel like this guest post by Victor Blasco may seem a little redundant. But he covers a lot of ground here, and with the pandemic still upon us, this may be more useful and thought provoking than ever, especially for those who remain skepitcal. – KW
It’s no news that our 21st-century attention spans can’t keep up with the current education system – or maybe that the current education system can’t keep up with our short attention spans. And notice that with “current,” I'm referring to a model that stems from centuries ago!
You know what I’m talking about: a superior figure giving students lectures that usually last too long and engage too little, and pairing these lessons with a big dose of texts that, in most cases, students never get around to read entirely.
Information Technology has brought so many changes to our everyday lives that it’s simply staggering that something as vital as education remains, for the most part, essentially unchanged.
Fortunately, new resources and methods are starting to be applied in the educational arena in recent years.
One of those resources is educational video content, which has been blossoming in the academic field for a while and has undoubtedly become vital during the current pandemic.
Let’s analyze why and how videos are a great addition to any educational effort to glean how to make the most out of the medium.
Why Are Videos Important in Education?
Why using video in education? The question should rather be, “Why not?”
Video provides a multisensory experience, engaging both sight and hearing. This not only offers students a more comprehensive explanation of a subject, but it’s also more likely to grab their attention and capture their interest.
And I guess there’s no need to tell you how much students love videos: who didn’t use to get excited when the teacher brought the TV into the classroom? Considering the other options were a lecture or a text, watching an entertaining, educational video was – and still is – nothing short of refreshing.
What you may not know is that the enjoyment that comes with videos has a strong pedagogical value. That’s right: people learn and remember lessons best when they are having fun.
Moreover, when the educational piece is shared on the web or through an e-learning platform, this lesson becomes available for a huge number of people. We are still not ready to say “for everyone” – there are many communities with no access to clean water, let alone to the internet – but still, online educational videos open many doors to those who wouldn’t be able to learn certain topics otherwise, and therefore, allowing them to have better job opportunities.
With video, a lesson no longer has to be limited to the number of students that fits inside a classroom; instead, it can be available to millions of people – even from future generations – who are eager to learn.
Uses of Video Content in Education
Educational institutions can leverage video content for different purposes:
- To present and promote the school to potential students.
- To welcome new students and explain to them the basic rules and particularities of the institution.
- To keep the student body updated.
- To include as a complementary resource to lessons.
- To introduce new concepts in a compelling way.
- To replace lessons.
Of all these possible uses, the last item is probably the one that calls your attention the most. I know it sounds a bit… dehumanizing, like replacing a person’s job with a video. But, just like Salman Khan stated in his celebrated Ted Talk, it’s actually all the contrary.
By using short, engaging videos that can be watched at home instead of a lecture and a whiteboard, teachers can use classroom time – once the lockdown is over – to help students put into practice the concepts that the video explained, allowing them to interact with their peers and teachers.
This not only helps reinforcing theory with practice, but it also stimulates Higher-Order Thinking Skills, such as problem-solving, evaluation, and critical thinking, among others. Bringing down the common practice of memorizing a lesson by heart instead of actually learning it.
Benefits of Including Videos in Education
We have already mentioned some benefits that educational video content brings to the table, namely:
- It piques the students’ interest.
- Students learn best since they are enjoying themselves.
- It makes a lesson available for a wider range of people.
- It can give students time to interact with each other.
- It can help incentivize Higher-Order Thinking Skills.
However, this type of educational content brings even more benefits to both students and teachers. Let's go through them thoroughly:
Advantages for Students
- Videos are impactful and easy to understand.
Educational video companies resort to different resources to break down a topic, such as visuals, sounds, music, and a compelling script. This makes any kind of explanation, storytelling, metaphors, analogies, and the like, be more impactful and understandable than if they were in a written text.
- Videos are great for learning complex topics.
Since video content can boil down a subject beyond what words can describe, it’s ideal for explaining particularly complex topics – doubly so when these require visual demonstrations, such as math formulas or practical procedures.
- Students can watch the videos at their own convenience.
Students can watch, pause, or rewatch educational videos in their own time and terms, being able to go over anything they couldn’t grasp or that they simply want to brush up.
This is excellent for those students who are embarrassed or afraid of asking questions in class. More importantly, it helps students develop auto-learning skills.
- Videos are better suited to our short attention spans and hectic lifestyles.
Students tend to struggle with long texts, whether because they have trouble understanding them or because they don’t get around to read them.
Video comes as the perfect solution, as you can condense or segment a large amount of information in pieces of 5 to 10 minutes.
- Videos increase their digital literacy.
Students need to access, watch, and interact with the educational videos digitally. This forces them to practice and enhance their digital skills, which are becoming more valuable every day in the job market.
Advantages for Teachers
- Teachers can track the students’ interaction with the video.
Some video hosting platforms allow teachers to monitor if students have finished watching a particular video and how much of it they have watched. That way, educators can know how effective a video was – and how dutiful their students were.
- Having a more motivated student body.
This is not a minor thing. Addressing a class that is keen to learn more and likely to pay attention and work is basically every teacher's dream.
- Video helps teachers save time (and burdens).
Remember what I have said about video content being great for those shy students who don't dare ask questions in class? That's also advantageous for teachers, as they don’t have to answer the same questions again and again.
- Video provides better results.
This advantage comes as a consequence of how beneficial video is for students. Since they are more engaged with a particular topic and have learned it better, their marks and results are bound to be higher. Ultimately, this also benefits the teacher’s reputation.
Video content is becoming one of the most beloved educational tools of both teachers and students alike. There are, however, a few detractors: people who mistakenly think that video has come to replace teachers.
On the contrary, this type of content is meant to complement their work, even to enhance it, as it brings about better results in terms of a more educated and involved student body.
The role of the teacher will definitely change once video starts dominating the educational scene, but thinking it'd disappear would be absurd. After all, video content is excellent to transmit theoretical knowledge, but it's a limited resource when it comes to putting it into practice. Students will still need a knowledgeable figure to supervise them and help them put what they have learned through video into action.
If anything, this makes the teacher’s role more valuable, as they would be performing an indispensable task instead of providing information that can be learned through other means, giving teachers more time to stimulate Higher-Order Thinking Skills.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Teach me, and I remember. Involve me, and I learn.” Without a doubt, we could say that video is here to teach students, but educators, are here to involve them.