5 Secrets to Learning With Videos

Learning with videos does not equal instant engagement. The novelty has mostly worn off because many of my high schoolers grew up with YouTube and video streaming as far back as they can remember. Now, it's the expectation to use video for learning.

Meeting learners where they are is not an easy task. As the mobile age of technology persists, I'm experiencing new issues related to how students process information. Their attention span used to be four to five minutes of boring talk. These days it's about four to five words, which presents a challenge if we are to provide opportunities for skill development.

The following "secrets" are not magic beans that will take learners to the fairy tale world of perfect learning. Even after integrating cool tools, kids still struggle to find the main ideas. They struggle to ask the right questions to process information in deep and lasting ways. Here's what I've learned.

1. Turn on Closed Captions

For the learner who struggles with auditory processing, turning on the closed captions may seem like an obvious solution. It's not. The learner with weak auditory processing may not even know about their learning difference.

No problem. Suggest to each student that they turn on the closed captioning. Listening and reading while making notes of the key points is a great way for everyone to learn. If learners turn to their neighbor and summarize the key points, this video activity includes all four language domains.

2. Slow Down the Video

I liked Crash Course history videos a lot when they were initially released. Then, I realized that they are too fast for learning new information. Even after using them for review, I was left with students who were uncomfortable with the pace of the narration.

Slowing down the video to half speed helps a lot. It sounds weird on some videos, but it's a fleeting distraction. The image below shows the speed settings for YouTube.

3. Make Interactive Notes

Most learners need to be taught how to return to their notes to study. I teach my students strategies to make notes that are more usable later when the depth of knowledge increases.

Videonot.es is a great tool for taking notes while watching videos. It integrates with Google Drive and can be exported to Evernote. The most powerful feature is how the notes are embedded with the video time code from when users start typing. Click on the note while studying, and the video adjusts to the same place in the time code. It also allows users to slow down videos.

4. Create Discussion

Discussions based on videos can be powerful learning experiences, but it depends on the point in the lesson, the class, and the video. Some videos are short and focused on one idea, while others contain a lot of opinions and points of view. Depending on the video and the needs of the learners, the discussion design can strengthen understanding.

There are plenty of ways to facilitate discussions during and after the videos. For example, try using word clouds to summarize first impressions or open response collectors to achieve more depth and complexity.

I like Vialogues because it allows learners to engage in discussion that are linked to the moment in the video. Like Videonot.es, this tool links the comment to the video time code.

5. Add Questions

Recently, I had to start adding questions within videos to keep students with effort and motivation issues more on task. I've used EDpuzzle in the past, but didn't need it for most of my classes. This semester is different.

EDpuzzle allows the teacher to see how much students watch the video. For example, it will show how much they rewind and where, which is nice to compare to their responses. If a student gets a question wrong and doesn't ever rewind the video, that gives me some specific data to support a conversation about effort.

This tool allows you to add comments. multiple choice, or open response questions. It also allows you to add feedback to display after a student responds. The grading is automatic for multiple choice, and the video stops at each point that you add a comment or question. If you like to stop videos and ask your questions for class discussion, this tool works great.

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