“I find it impossible to actually learn anything new through distance learning.”
Stephan is one of the millions of students struggling to make the most of remote learning. Teachers across the globe rate online learning a mere five out of ten. Screen fatigue is real, and the second wave is turning out to be especially brutal. So, returning to in-person instruction continues to be risky, making remote learning the only plausible way for at least another year.
To make online education more engaging and effective, video lectures will be critical. The good news is: Gen Z is very video-savvy. They subscribe to streaming services, watch Youtube everyday, and 70% Gen Zers say watching videos with others helps them feel more connected.”
In this blog post, we’ll discuss seven ways in which educators can leverage the power of video to connect with their students and make their lessons effective.
#1 Improve video quality
We’re not recommending Netflix-quality video content, of course. But when a video is clear, consistent and pleasant to watch, students are more likely to persist. This can be achieved with minimal equipment and effort.
- Use a good webcam to shoot, position it at eye-level with a good view of your face
- Ensure that the camera is focussing properly and the frame is pleasant
- Get a USB microphone for recording, this helps eliminate background noise and capture your voice
- Find a location with natural lighting, clear acoustics and clean background
- Install the software you need for screen recording
Before you record your classes, make sure you make a few test videos. Feel free to A/B test backgrounds, tools, software etc. to get the best video.
#2 Structure your content to suit asynchronous learning
The biggest advantage of a recorded lecture is that students can learn from it over and over. Even those students who are absent or late to live lectures can learn at their own convenience.
To make it long-lasting, take the time to structure it properly. Begin with a brief outline of the lesson with learning objectives. Speak slowly and clearly to the camera. Remember that students can play your videos back, rewind or pause, if they’re stuck. So, you need to repeat yourself, but be clear. And add specific keywords to the slides, which will help them navigate the videos later.
Summarize key points at the end to enable better recall. Include exercises at the end of each lesson for students to practice their learnings. They can also bring their exercises back to the next class and discuss with each other.
#3 Be inclusive
Many students with physical or mental disabilities may find it difficult to pay attention throughout a live lecture. Those with learning disabilities like ADHD might find it hard to focus. Video lectures have the opportunity to offer freedom and choice to disadvantaged students. Inclusive recorded lectures let students be in control of the lesson and learn at their own pace. To make your lectures inclusive:
- Add closed captions and transcriptions for the hearing impaired
- Use fonts and colors that are suitable for the visually impaired
- Add notes alongside the recording for students to draw upon key points
- Render the videos in universal formats like MP4 files so that it can be played from mac, PC, or mobile devices
#4 Break lectures into smaller units
Studies suggest that videos less than 15 minutes in length work best. Longer lecture content is generally laborious, bandwidth-intensive and ineffective. To capture student interest, break your lessons into smaller videos; focus on one complete topic in each video. Arrange videos in a logical sequence so every next lecture builds on the previous. Tease the next lecture at the end of your videos.
#5 Make it exciting with multimedia elements
Gifs, infographics, memes, videos — there are plenty of engaging content formats that you can use to teach. While recording video lectures, look beyond the standard slides you use towards alternative formats. Include polls, quizzes etc. to keep students focussed.
#6 Make it collaborative
One of the key challenges of recorded video lectures is that it offers little to no agency for the students in learning. This doesn't have to be the case. It is not uncommon for educators to invite students to develop lectures for small topics that they can share with each other — this encourages peer-to-peer collaboration and learning.
If that seems like a step too far, consider working collaboratively with other teachers in your school. Invite experts or practitioners to record guest lectures on specific topics.
#7 Mirror your in-class persona
As cliche as it may sound, being yourself even for a recorded lecture is important for sustained engagement. For students, who miss in-person classroom experiences, recreating that in a recorded lecture would help connect and stay attentive.
- Get off your chair and walk around the room while teaching (make sure the camera and microphone capture it all)
- Use your wall/pinboard/whiteboard etc. to explain concepts
- If you’re bringing in experts, try an interview or conversational format
Video lectures are here to stay
Pandemic or not, the future of education is moving towards online and hybrid models. Video lectures will become a significant part of every curriculum. By recording your lectures, you save classroom time for interaction, collaboration and collective problem-solving. Classes that are engaging are also likely to have fewer absences and late-comers.
The first step to this is making better video lectures.