Video in Education

I think video is a huge part of the future of education. It’s all over education now, but I think it will only continue to grow. TEDx? Video. MOOCs? Video. Want to learn how to do just about anything and have someone show you? YouTube it…

The fact of the matter is that video does things that text can’t; plain and simple. Students can listen faster than they can read. Students can see and hear something happening, which engages their senses in a way reading often doesn’t. That’s not to say, students are incapable of getting wrapped up in a good book. It’s just that those experiences aren’t typically textbooks. 

In some ways, one might argue, video is better than a live lecture. Students don’t have to “go” to class. It’s more convenient for them and the professor, who can record lectures at their leisure. Some professors repeat lectures as things stand. With video, they don’t have to feel as guilty and unoriginal; they can just admit it :). Students can rewind anytime they didn’t “get” it the first time, and don’t have to watch it all at once. Also, a recorded lecture is much more engaging than those 45-minute science videos from the 80’s, known to put students right to sleep, and shown when the teacher just isn’t feeling encouraged or patient enough to teach that day. A good recorded lecture, as commonly seen on TED, grabs one’s attention and doesn’t quickly let go. With MOOCs offering free instruction from some of the best Ivy League professors, why wouldn’t teachers and even peer professors take advantage? No teacher should be silly enough to think they, too, can’t learn from others. 

However, what a video can’t yet do is provide feedback. Feedback is at least half of teaching and learning (no, I can’t statistically prove that). As Dr. Alexander noted from his use of multiple video streaming software platforms, even nearly-live streams aren’t yet good enough to allow students to ask questions in real time. We’re not quite there yet, but you have to know it’s coming. Even when it does, though, I don’t think a virtual reality will ever be able to replace the value of face-to-face contact with a teacher. Not to mention, the value of peer-to-peer discussion. The key is for leaders to ask “how best can we use this?” rather than “how can we be better than this technology?” I think a nice blend of video instruction, in-person feedback, and peer-to-peer collaboration inside or outside of class will prove to be the most effective way forward. 

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