By: Tom Goulding

Video is a powerful tool for gaining and retaining student attention. In a digital landscape that’s very loud and distracting, the right ideas can grasp even the most disinterested student. Getting teachers the information they need is a big part of UCR University Extension’s success, which likewise fuels teachers’ success in building the skills of their students. It’s no difference when it comes to enhancing your lessons with video. This is what you need to know.

Educational videos are in high demand

Young people are turning to videos to gain new information. Don’t believe me? Here are a few statistics:

This is an important clarification—you are the teacher, first and foremost. Without you, the lesson cannot be taught the same way. Videos have the ability to teach lessons, but they cannot serve as a replacement for what you, as a teacher, have to offer. It’s with you that video can be used to supplement and build background knowledge on classroom topics.

Gone are the days of rolling in a TV and VCR set because you didn’t sleep very well the night before (no judgment here). But an introductory video on the subject in class before going into an assigned reading can enhance students' interest and learning abilities.

Storytime—you’re about to teach the Pythagorean theorem. Why should your students care about what some Greek guy said about triangles? Because you showed them the goofiest music video known to man just before getting into the lesson.

This serves as an example of a video that can make your students laugh and act as a primer for an essential mathematics principle. A well-placed joke can be an immensely effective teaching tool.

Even just implementing one educational video in a lesson? It’s worth the setup.

Consider this—the pandemic has shown that even young children could engage deeply with lessons when provided videos and opportunities to self-pace. While the physical classroom can deter your students with a lot of distractions or fatigue, a video viewing for homework and a low-stress paragraph or two on what they learned (not note-taking during the video) can increase retention. In fact, 55% of teachers are already using video-viewing as homework already.

Video is a huge component in an engaged classroom. Kids are viewing billions of videos in their free time, so co-opting videos effectively can keep them engaged more than they would in a solely reading-based learning experience.

Here is a list of three tips on how to innovate on video use effectively:

  • Get choosy. You can’t have “Fortnite” players teaching your kids about what started the Civil War. Source and vet your videos and you’ll improve your students’ understanding of core concepts faster.
  • Turn on closed captioning. Purists may be yelling, but closed captioning is helpful for everyone to retain what is being conveyed on screen. If your topic is dense, consider a copy of the transcript to help students follow along.
  • Set expectations. What are they paying attention to? What are you hoping to gain from the clip? Giving your kids an idea of what to look for in the video can keep them engaged and boost lesson engagement.

The way video has shifted in the last five years alone is encouraging. Video learning is a powerful tool in your tool kit and when used correctly, it’ll bolster students’ learning abilities to the next level.