Something I always wanted to do is teach a lesson on a new concept to students via video while I had to be away from school. I wanted to see how well this could work in delivering instruction and avoid giving make-work to students to keep them occupied. While creating how-to videos are nothing new to me, I had usually given instruction and used the videos as a supplement for teachers and students to use for review if I was not available for questions. However, I have never created a video that would replace me as an instructor. There were some questions about this always running through my mind. Would students totally understand it? Would they be totally lost? Would I do such a good job that I might actually produce my way out of a job?
The perfect opportunity to test my theory came last week when I had to miss two classes. I needed to teach a lesson on blogging I could no longer put off. Again, I did not want to create another make-work assignment of having students read a cybersafety or technology article online then answer some questions in Edmodo or the technological worksheet. I started putting together my video plan two days before I was to be absent. First, I wanted to outline what needed to be taught which turned into six individual lessons. Next, I used Jing to get the screen shots and screen captures of the blogging tool we were going to use. To create the edited video I used Microsoft Live Movie Maker (educator's guide)because I was doing this at school and I needed the practice since I was teaching it later. Finally, I created the blogging assignment the students would do while working with the videos and uploaded it all to Edmodo. I was amazed Edmodo was able to digest a blogging assignment, six video lessons, and a link to Kidblog.org. Later these videos were uploaded to YouTube so students could access them from home easily. When the day came, fortune smiled on me because the substitute who took my classes was a retired teacher I had worked with in the pass and greatly respected for her professionalism. I could have no better person to try this stunt with because she would keep the students on task.
Today was the first day back with the students I used with my little video experiment. I posted a poll in Edmodo to see what they thought of the video experience. The question was "How well did the video lessons on blogging work for you when I was out?" Forty-two students responded to my poll. 30.95% of the respondents said they "Understood everything about blogging now. 40.48% said they understood some of what the videos showed but still needed me to answer some questions. 14.29% said they still wanted me to teach them in class but the videos could be helpful later if they got stuck on something. Another 14.29% said the videos were not helpful at all and they needed the teacher to teach them. What I gathered from this small, unscientific sampling is while video instruction can be helpful but a teacher is still needed to guide and help the students totally understand a lesson.
Teachers can easily create their own lessons using screen shots, screen capture, Livescribe pencasts, and other recording methods. The biggest investment is the time it takes to create these lessons. Also, as one teacher friend who I helped in a similar project said, "It is disconcerting to be teaching to an empty classroom." He could never do a recording when students were around because he had to edit out so much. The Khan Academy and it's wealth of videos on a variety of math, science, economic, and other subject areas is another great resource. While there are some misguided people who think videotaping "great" teachers teaching and showing them to all students will help solve education's problems, it will be the best teachers who will use videos as one more tool in their toolbox of learning to reach all students.