As we know, the students in our classrooms now are part of what has been termed “Generation Z“. This is the generation that was too young to remember 9-11 (and in many cases, weren’t even born yet) and never lived in a world without the internet. Their entire view of life is different from previous generations….and thus, so is their style of learning. According to an article from EdWeek by Lauraine Genota titled Why Generation Z Learners Prefer YouTube Lessons Over Printed Books, every single survey completed showed that Generation Z found YOUTUBE to be their preferred method of information delivery. What does that mean for the classroom? We need to really rethink our strategy of using videos for teaching. Let me explain what that means.
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Using Videos for Teaching…Appropriately
Many people hear this concept of teaching with videos and immediately think, “Wow…how lazy!” Often our perception of using videos in the classroom is popping in a film so a teacher can do something else while their students are occupied with something. That is NOT an effective way to use videos for teaching. Granted, is a movie day a nice break in the schedule every once in a while? Sure! I used to try to show one “real” movie in my history class per unit so the students could make connections to the events vs. how Hollywood portrayed them. This isn’t what is meant by using videos for teaching, though.
There are many ways to use videos for teaching in a positive way that isn’t the “easy way out”. I personally have found the most successful way is by flipping the classroom. When you flip the classroom, you are allowing your students to learn the content before they get to class, lending more time for hands-on discovery of that information once you are back together in the classroom. There are plenty of ways to flip the classroom with various readings or activities; however, videos are SUPER easy to put together and they appeal to the students that are completing the assignments.
In the article referenced above, it was discussed that anything that someone needed to know could be discovered on YouTube. A few quick keyword searches and that information is being explained, often with visuals or hands-on demonstrations, to be watched (paused, rewound, etc.) as many times as necessary. It appeals to every learning style and Generation Z has figured it out. They’re the youngest generation to realize that time is money! Why in the world would we NOT take advantage of the fact that there is a simple way that these kids are willing to take the time to implement to help their learning?
There are a MILLION different ways to do this. You can use videos from the internet that are already created. You can make your own Podcasts or even a Voki. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE EdPuzzle. With EdPuzzle, you can create videos (or use ones that are already on there) directly from YouTube, etc., add questions, and the students can work at them at their own pace. Check out our whole write up on flipping the classroom with EdPuzzle here.
Making This Even MORE Student-Centered
A different avenue to go with this is to have your students actually create the videos that are used. One favorite example of this was when my students created a documentary on World War II. Each student had a different aspect of the war to discuss, and then I compiled all the pieces together into one video, popped it into EdPuzzle, added one question for each student’s work, and then we watched the whole thing. They LOVED it.
An easy way to do this in the classroom is with your student’s own smartphones if you don’t have access to iPads or other fun gadgets in the classroom. I also purchased a simple green screen sheet that they had the option of using. They would record in front of it and then using the software of their choice (they know SO much more about this stuff than we do!), they would add in backgrounds, etc. that went along with what they are saying. Take a look at how easy this is to set up in your room:
FlipGrid is also a great tool for the students to create short videos and then view each other. They can comment on them and the possibilities become endless. I have seen some students who are incredibly shy who have blown it out of the water when given the opportunity to use FlipGrid….or Voki…..or even creating their own EdPuzzle. In the simplest terms, they are creating a medium that they all prefer and then have the opportunity to show it off to one another. It is a brilliant concept on so many different levels of the educational spectrum.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to this method of instruction. There are a million different ideas and it is up to you to decide what to try. What matters is finding what works for YOUR students. There is nothing wrong with giving something a go and seeing if it takes off. If it does? Awesome! If not, does it need to be tweaked or changed altogether? There is nothing wrong with messing around with these ideas….or trying them all out. I was having my students create a Voki once and a high school junior turned to me and said how excited he was to do this because no other teacher in the school came up with such creative ways for them to do their work. It really wasn’t thinking that far outside of the box, but when the students were only used to traditional methods in the classroom, it meant a world of a difference. However, when you are in the field of student-centered learning, there is no higher compliment that you can receive! Go ahead out on that limb….your students (and your sanity!) will thank you. Thanks for reading.