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TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION7 Tips for Teaching With Videos


7 Tips for Teaching With Videos

Along with considering video length, teachers should look for ways to make watching a video an opportunity for active learning.By Devin RossiterMarch 11, 2021

Kira Retana
Kira Retana
Kira Retana
Kira Retana

Allison Shelley for the Alliance for Excellent Education

Congratulations! You spent hours in the YouTube rabbit hole and emerged with an amazing video to share with your students. You click the play button, and as the video ends, you ask the class, “What did you notice?” Your “Tell a partner what you learned” is met with the stare of infinite silence or, if it’s after lunch, a five-second summary of the very end of the clip. Zero notes have been taken, and no analysis has been provided.

What went wrong?

Information Age educators rely on various types of media to share complex ideas and concepts with students. At a time when professional streamers and social media content creators seem to have the craft pinned down to a science, how might we employ some of their strategies to engage our learners?


1. Use visible countdowns. Ever had to give five more minutes to finish an assignment or a conversation? Spoiler: It’s never just five minutes. Time donation is a common contributor to unfulfilled success criteria and rushed lesson goals because it’s easy to lose track when providing differentiated support.

Make these intervals visible, and you can communicate clear expectations for independent work as well as direct instruction. No matter how much time you need for an activity, you’re likely to find multiple video timers of that interval to insert into your slides with a simple YouTube search. Searching for “four-minute timer” yields a wide field of results, from the familiar countdown series of Adam Eschborn to vivid number-free radial timers by PHCuber.

2. Reclaim the frame. Whether in a physical classroom with an interactive display or a remote learning environment where each student faces their own monitor, a common miscue is to play instructional videos in full screen. The general thinking is that the video needs to be as big as possible for visibility. However, doing this surrenders valuable screen space to remind viewers of the purpose of watching.

Professor Richard Mayer, who has a PhD in psychology, has led research supporting the cognitive theory of multimedia learning. Here’s the short version: You can learn with text alone, and you can learn with images alone; however, you will learn more with text and images together. This idea has wide-ranging applications in educational media such as descriptions of photographs or using closed captioning for videos. One effective application of Mayer’s theory is to place key facts or guiding questions next to the video as it plays so that learners are clear on what to look for and what to discuss once viewing is complete.


Kira Retana

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