Making a Case for Instructional Videos

Beth presented at the AIMS Technology Showcase in 2021! Check out the slides that go along with her blog post here:

I know that it’s summer, and you may be taking a break from thinking about school, so here’s the TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) thesis of this post: Whether in-person, remote, or hybrid, instructional videos are a legitimate and effective way of delivering content. Just do it!

When we’re talking about instructional videos, I’m considering two things:

  • Screencasts –Voice over of a shared computer screen, slide deck, series of websites, etc. Generally speaking, the speaker is talking over this shared screen. A screencast might be showing participants what is on your screen, perhaps narrating the screen’s content. Some examples: Presenting materials (slides, images, videos), demonstrating steps
  • Demonstration Videos– Camera view on a set of materials or equipment, with speaker demonstrating use of a physical tool. This doesn’t necessarily include captioning of demonstrated task, simply talking over while doing the specified task. Some examples: Science labs, building, putting together models, solving equations, playing a scale

No matter what format you’re using, it’s still all about engagement. If you want to engage your students, you need to get to know them, and they need to know you. When you create your own instructional videos, they will engage with them more because they know that it’s you! Students recognize your voice, see your hands, pick up on your vernacular and rhythms, and they connect and engage with that more than a “generic” video.

If you’re lucky enough to be working with a team of teachers (grade level team, academic team, etc.) you can tap that collaboration, as students will hopefully know and connect with all of their teaching/learning team. You can still use other videos, but remember– your powerful connection with students is a key to great student engagement.

The biggest rationale and arguments for incorporating instructional videos into your teaching practice are time and access. Incorporating instructional videos will free up time for you to support your students– check for understanding, answer questions, listen to their problem-solving, and so much more. You can incorporate videos in three ways:

  • Before the class– share out your direct instruction by “flipping” the content. During live class time, discuss, problem solve, check for understanding
  • In centers/station rotation– some students can access instructional videos, while you meet with other small groups, or they collaborate together
  • For differentiation– instructional videos can provide students a place to pause, reflect, rewind, and review concepts and resources.

All of these formats will give you more time as a teacher to interface with your students and support their learning.
Using instructional videos can provide a huge accessibility boost to students who might need more support in their learning. By using instructional videos for the direct instruction component of your teaching, you are allowing students to:

  • Watch at their own pace
  • Turn on captioning, or translation
  • Pause, think, review content
  • Make meaning by sharing with peers or family and discussing
  • Access on-demand

Leverage technology to provide access to students who can benefit from it!

I know many educators don’t necessarily feel like they have the skills nor the tools to create, edit, and share instructional videos, but I assure you — you do. If you can operate a smartphone, or have a laptop, you have just about every tool that you might need.

Check out these slides for resources on good “production value” for videos, and also some suggestions for tools that you can use to create, edit, and publish your videos. One important thing to note: it’s always important to know your district’s norms for sharing videos. Do they have a preferred platform for you to use? (example: sharing videos through Google Drive, sharing in a LMS, or publishing to YouTube) What are the allowed social media permissions for your district?

If you face pushback from colleagues, remember that one of the biggest challenges facing us as educators today is changing the paradigm of “what education should look like”. When we change norms of traditional instruction, it will make some people uncomfortable. Flipped/blended learning, self-paced instruction– these are not the traditional “norms” of what education looks like. Keep going! Research supports moving instruction to more student-centered strategies, boosting engagement and providing flexibility to the learning experience. Don’t be afraid to create and share instructional videos.

Beth is an experienced instructional technology coach who is passionate about collaboration and injecting creativity into teaching and learning. A veteran teacher, she moved to Illinois from Indiana, and began refining her coaching and tech integration skills.

Beth is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Teacher Leader program, and plays bass for the Northwest Symphony Orchestra.