The use of videos in the classroom is no groundbreaking new instructional idea for teachers. Whether it be for kicking off a unit, deepening content knowledge, or just as a fun way to compliment instructional goals, videos seem to be a fan favorite for teachers. Now with all the different types of learning happening around the country (in-person, hybrid, remote), videos have taken on a whole new meaning. Instructional videos are taking students’ learning to places they could not otherwise go, especially (but not limited to) the hybrid and remote models. We know that instructional videos are often used, but when are they appropriate? What are some types that educators are most regularly turning to, and what are some strategies for creating ones that are sure to be engaging?

When are Instructional Videos Appropriate to Use?

Instructional videos are repeatedly used, but when are they most appropriately inserted into instruction? In the age of COVID-19, just about anytime it seems. Teachers are finding that they can still meet educational standards by pre-recording themselves teaching. These videos are being used by students in a hybrid model who are not going into the classroom each day, but as a way to still “see” and hear their teacher instructing. Instructional videos are another nice way for students to re-listen to a lesson if they missed it or if they need to hear it a second time for clarification or understanding.

Instructional videos are also a great way for educators to share the workload (think one teacher records the math lessons for the week, one records reading, one science, etc). Some teachers are even having the option of using pre-recorded lessons to take the place of needing a sub. The options for instructional videos continue to evolve and fine tune themselves, and the market for users is only going to continue to grow as we navigate this world during and after this most recent pandemic.

Types of Instructional Videos

There are many types of instructional videos that are popular amongst teachers. Some teachers record themselves during each of their live instructions. They use these recordings either for students who have missed class, to share with other teachers, or so students can refer back to the video if they have questions. Zoom has a screen recording feature built right into it, so teachers simply have to click  “start recording.” Others may prefer using Loom or Ezvid, both free for teachers.

Educators also use instructional videos to record themselves prior to meeting with students. They then use this recording to play for students while they are all together on Zoom. Some teachers do this for the purpose of being able to make sure they present the material in a way that sounds clear and concise. Additionally, some educators don’t like the pressure of “live” teaching from home with an unknown audience in the background with their students (parents, grandparents, etc.). Recording their lesson ahead of time gives them the chance to make sure they do it to their liking and free from mistakes.

Another type of instructional video that is being used is pre-recorded videos that take the place of having to get a substitute teacher. Think how differently students respond to their classroom teacher versus when a substitute is in the room. The teacher has the background knowledge and experience in the curriculum, and in many ways it just makes sense to let the teacher do the lesson (some teachers also enjoy the perk of then not having to use any sick time). Additionally, teachers are using pre-recorded videos to ensure that their recording doesn’t have any students in it (data privacy), which can sometimes be tricky during live teaching since teachers are typically calling on students for participation.

Lastly, teachers like using videos to take students beyond where they could otherwise go (think virtual field trip) or for science experiments that would be hard to conduct from the basement of one’s house or inside the classroom walls. There are so many types of instructional videos ranging from the ones teachers personally make to the ones available for educators to insert into their lessons. What makes these videos engaging for students to watch? There are a few things educators should pay attention to when choosing or creating an instructional video.

Strategies for Creating Engaging Instructional Videos

There are a few things educators should remember when creating or deciding which instructional videos to use during teaching. Most importantly, the video should support the instructional goal at hand. It shouldn’t take the place of direct, explicit instruction, but should compliment it. The video should be engaging and hold students’ attention. It may even have places built in for teachers to pause and ask questions to check for student understanding.

When teachers are creating their own videos, they should think about the environment where they are creating them. Sometimes it might help draw the students in by changing location (think going outside for a science video or changing to another location in one’s house to help attract student attention). Are students learning about healthy foods during health class? Why not open your fridge and talk about the items inside. Is the next math unit on measurement? Do a live demo of measuring different items in your house. The students will be sure to enjoy another look into their teacher’s life.

The videos used and created should also integrate digital tools. Teachers can use engaging platforms such as Powtoon or Biteable to grab students’ attention. These fun video design sites give teachers an exciting starting point for their video creations, as well as a jumpstarted way to model a presentation tool students could use for assignments. There are dozens of software options out there for creating animated movies to help make instructional videos successful.

Instructional videos are not a new tool in any educator’s teaching toolbox. However, they are growing and evolving to help with the many different learning models students are finding themselves in this year. They help engage learners, they compliment instruction, and they give flexible teaching options for educators. Instructional videos have been around for ages, are now being fine tuned and enhanced with digital tools, and are only going to continue to be a “go to” teaching tool.