August 2, 2017

5 Ways to Add Video to Your Teaching and Professional Development Toolkit

In 2017, video creation is gaining popularity as a tool for learning. Not only can students create videos to demonstrate mastery, but educators can also use the practice to create videos for professional development, or for flipped or blended instruction, among other things. As many students have turned to sites such as YouTube to teach themselves about their interests, it only makes sense to meet them where they are — and even emulate this learning style to improve our own practice. Sure, this all sounds great, but what is a camera-shy educator to do?

Take it from me, it can be difficult for some of us to get in front of the camera. Fear not, here are some strategies help you get your feet wet. I’ve tried the following tips (or seen them used by other educators) to overcome this psychological barrier. I’ve scaffolded them in order of difficulty from my perspective, but feel free to use what works for you, in whichever order you want.

1. See what resources are already out there. There are literally hundreds of millions of videos available on the Internet. Many of our colleagues around the world have created such content to teach students about different concepts, as well as focus on their own professional development. Chances are, if you’re teaching a general concept, someone has already created a video about it. Just search for what you need. (Remember to watch it from beginning to end before showing it to students. This may seem obvious, but I’ve heard many horror stories!)

2. Allow your students to create. Active learning is a good idea, regardless of your comfort level with creating videos. Student creation via consumption of content has even been identified as a best practice in the National Education Technology Plan. So why not tap into your students’ skill sets and ask them to create videos to teach their classmates? In my class, students would rotate as “Flipper of the Week,” and take turns making short videos to teach their classmates various concepts.

3. Create a non-facial video. Yes, there are tools that allow you to display a visual of your choice while you record narration. For the super camera-shy, this may be a good entry point. I’d suggest showing several different visuals during the course of your video, as well as keeping it brief (approximately five minutes). Varying what’s displayed on-screen can help to keep your audience engaged.

4. Flip your classroom. In point 2, I alluded to the flipped classroom, a strategy where educators can front-load class content by creating a short video that students can watch for homework to prepare for more in-depth work in class. I began flipping in 2013, and found that my students benefitted in several ways, most significantly that I was able to restructure class time to support individual and small-group learning. Before implementing this, however, it’s important to ensure that all students have access. Here are some tips that I’ve learned in my journey, and through speaking with other educators.

5. Focus on the message. This is one tip that I picked up while presenting at conferences, which, interestingly, is not much different than creating videos. I’ve faced similar anxiety in both situations, and this strategy has helped me tremendously. Many times when we get nervous, it’s because we’re afraid to look silly, stumble over our words, etc. However, remember the purpose of the video is to share information with our students and/or colleagues. Keeping this in mind has allowed me to push through the fear in many situations, including the very first video I made for my students.

All of that being said, remember to have fun and to be yourself. I had a very silly, playful relationship with my middle school students when I was in the classroom, and this eventually came through in my videos. Some of my students and parents told me that they really enjoyed watching and found the videos helpful. Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it!

Feel free to connect with me on Twitter or Voxer (@sarahdateechur for both) if you have any questions.

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