This week I had the opportunity to engage in some great discussions with some great educators about the use of podcasts, vodcasts, screencasts, and the creation of flipped lessons. Some of the discussion called for defining each of these terms, and it brought me back to geometry classes in which we evaluated if every square was a rhombus. While I don't think that educators need to get hung up on the similarities and differences of this media knowing about them is important. We need to know when we use each tool and how we can do so with great integrity. If we teach through video in the same manner that we teach live in the classroom, we will miss the mark. Planning and being sure to select the correct media for each purpose is key as we create. We need to always be mindful that we should not be after the cool factor but to strive for excellent lessons that result in optimal learning.
Not too long ago I led a Flipped Classroom Study with educators and we studied the book, Flip Your Classroom by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams. This easy to read book provided early adopters with a path, purpose and direction for creating these lessons. Our group created, evaluated and refined various forms of videos created using a variety tools. Some were screencasts, some vodcasts but all were made using the principles we studied, outlined, and agreed upon by our group to encourage and maintain quality lessons. Our group evaluated lessons made by other individuals and really looked into the do's and don'ts of creating quality media for instructional purposes. For the most part, video creation and selection seemed to be best over audio for various reasons. As I have reflected on this recent conversations, this study group's work, and additional research I have done, these points seemed to emerge:
Consider your Purpose ~ Are you using this method because it is something that will enhance the learning experience? From the learner perspective, will the process of rewinding, fast forwarding, reviewing, etc. add to the lesson? If you are going to do the same task in person and it is not interesting when you do it in the classroom, then it will be even less interesting in audio or video.
Consider your audience ~ Just like writing an essay, creating media for instruction requires you to consider your audience and their needs. What format should the media be in? Do the students have the ability to even get to the media? Is a podcast, vodcast, or screencast the best resource? What ways can they consume the content?
Write a script/build slides ~ Know your objective for the media you are creating and don't allow yourself to get off task. Make sure you are teaching the lesson the way that you want it to be. Use the appropriate vocabulary and terms. Having a script and main ideas for each image, drawing and gesture help to make interesting videos. A script forces you to make you point and be clear while winging-it allows us to drone on without the same focus. You need not read it verbatim, but be sure that you have determined what is important to say. Allow for spontaneity and humor, but remain clear
Practice ~ This is your chance to shine, so practice. Make sure you are very familiar with the content and script so that you have less likelihood of verbal stumbling that can be distracting. Know how to use the technology tools you want to use and be sure that they are useful and not distracting.
Be Interesting ~ Animate your voice as if there really are students in the room. Say it all with a smile but don't overdo the enthusiasm and make the inflections natural.
Keep it Short ~ Make sure you teach one topic per video. If you have more than one topic you will get more mileage by splitting videos. A learner will remain focused for about 5 minutes.
Cut to the Chase ~ Only record what is needed. It is much better to suggest to the learner that before they view the video they have read content than to show the page and read it to them. Instead, summarize what they should have read and suggest that if they have not, they should pause there and re-read.
Annotate ~ When possible annotate or write rather than have the information already on the page. This adds interest and personality.
Reduce Clutter ~ Be sure you don't record with toolbar showing and other clutter on the page. You don't want the student focused on the the next tool in the toolbar rather than the content.
Always Strive for Quality ~ Make sure that the work is easy to see, read and hear. Nothing is more frustrating than having the desire to learn but the quality of the recording getting in the way.
Copyright - Follow copyright laws in each and every production.
Share ~ Make sure the place that you share your content is accessible to all those who might need to see it wherever they might be. Just because you can click the link and see your video, doesn't mean that your users can too. Use Google's Incognito mode to check your links.
Instruct ~ Teach your students and parents how to view this media. Many teachers develop viewing guides. One idea WSQ - Watch, Summarize, Question outlines how students manage the information. Other important element is teaching kids that they can pause, rewind and rewatch. This might seem obvious, but is worth reviewing. If the media is not too lengthy then students are more likely to re-watch when they need to relearn.
Watch and Learn~ Watch your own video and those others make. You will be much more critical of your own mistakes, but consider what you can learn from making each lesson and keep notes so that the skill will grow from video to video. While it is an exercise to teach your students, many teachers find they become better teachers by watching themselves teach. Don't pass up this opportunity.
Collaborate on Completion ~ Have a trusted colleague watch you video. It’s possible they may see something that you do not and have ideas for the next one.
Overall, the process becomes more and more natural as you work through it. You don’t want to get stuck on the technology and flipping lessons is not about the videos but the quality lessons.
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