Videos seem to be a default class activity for many teachers of kids and teens. Let’s face it, preparation time is practically zero to plug in a video and let your students watch it for the entire class period. Unfortunately, this generation is so overloaded with media, videos are rarely the best choice if you want your students to remember your class and what you hope they will learn,
There are times though, when I do believe very short video clips can add some value to your class. If you are considering using some video in your next class, here are the “rules” I try to keep in mind as I plan.
- Keep the videos very short. The younger the child, the shorter the video should be. Even for older kids and teens, I like to keep the clip under five minutes unless it is extremely impactful in some way.
- The video clip you use should be adding knowledge or an experience you are unable to provide where you are. Sometimes a short video clip of the area you are studying will help students picture the story more accurately in their heads. Sometimes, videos like this one on making mud bricks can show your students how something in the Bible was done without having to make a huge mud pit in your church yard. (Although, doing it with a small one would be very memorable, meaningful and hands-on!).
- Watch the video first and “edit” it to fit your needs. In the mud bricks video above for example, the pace is too slow for young children and the video is way too long. The speaker would also be difficult for very young children to understand. In that case, I would mute the sound and run pieces of the video telling the children what is happening on their level. I would fast forward it from place to place (make notes of the time marks where your next clip starts before class) to cover the parts I need for my class.
- Allow yourself enough time when planning to find the best video for your needs. YouTube is full of videos and their quality varies greatly. It may take you awhile to find the best video on any topic, because often there are quite a few from which to choose. Waiting until your students arrive and just clicking on the first video you find can result in disaster.
- Be aware of dated videos. Teens find this especially annoying. They will tend to tune out a video if the outfits, hair and filming style are dated. If it really is something you are passionate about using for some reason, admit to your students you know it is dated, but you want them to try and ignore that and listen to what is being said, shown or taught. It’s still not your best option, but a few will pay more attention.
- Video should never be used to fill time or entertain children while in class. Your teaching time is so incredibly valuable, don’t waste it showing the fun videos most of your students already have at home. Instead of a learning experience, most of your students will end up having a nap or daydreaming session.
Don’t ban video entirely from your teaching toolbox, but use it carefully. Like a blow torch, if not used carefully, videos can do more harm than good.