Learning through videos is one of the hottest trends of the digital era. Whether you are watching tutorials in your own time or supplementing traditional lessons by watching videos in class, it is undeniable that watching an instructional video is one of the most expedient ways to learn.
But why is it so effective as a learning tool? Let’s explore a list of six reasons why video can take learning to the next level.
1. Learning in the 21st century
Video is something students expect: if you give it to them, it will make school a familiar environment. Young people today are already used to learning through videos and will not react as well as previous generations to lectures and textbooks. Acknowledging that videos are a valid learning method means updating your teaching style and giving your students digital literacy skills.
2. Making learning easier
Research has shown that video increases information retention and understanding: for example, teaching a practical skill works much better by showing the class how the task is performed than by talking about it theoretically. Moreover, visual stimulation improves attention and most producers of educational videos are aware of the students’ short attention span and will limit the length of their work to a few minutes at a time, summarizing complex concepts in videos that talk students through the key points of the subject.
3. Multiple learning styles
Videos require multiple senses, if only because you have to watch and listen at the same time. Spoken word, on-screen text, music and sound effects, static pictures, animation, live-action clips—these are all elements that video can combine to create an experience that accommodates everyone’s learning style and leaves no student behind. Videos are the pinnacle of multimedia learning: they can contain a bit of everything and make everyone happy.
4. A new role for the teacher
Adding videos to the day’s lesson changes the nature of the lesson plan: every minute spent watching a video is one less minute spent lecturing, but that does not equate to one less minute spent learning. Planning becomes a matter of finding and previewing the material to make sure it is appropriate for the class, and lesson time turns into an occasion for the teacher to observe students while they learn and to guide a class discussion on what they have just watched: the teacher is no longer just a lecturer, but a facilitator of autonomous learning and socialization between classmates.
5. Extending your reach
Instructional videos can reach students no matter where they are. It is no wonder that video lessons are one of the preferred tools for online courses: with videos, you can bring the lectures you have missed into your own home if your health or any other compelling reason stops you from attending. Video can also be a powerful advertising tool for your institution, attracting potential new students and facilitating connections with their families and with ex-students who wish to keep up to date with what is going on at the school.
6. Improving communication skills
Watching videos in class is not just a matter of staring passively at the screen: it is an example of active listening that includes paying attention and taking notes, both skills that benefit students in a more traditional setting as well. Most of all, however, using videos in class improves students’ communication skills because watching them is not the only thing they can do—they can produce them. Recording oneself explaining a concept is crucial as a tool to boost one’s ability to summarize complex material and to speak in public with an adequate tone of voice and body language, not to mention that editing the video to make it fit for public viewing helps students familiarize with video editing software, which is a useful skill in its own right.
In conclusion, video can be an excellent learning tool, as long as teachers do not take it as a substitute for their own work. Playing a video is not an excuse for the teacher to do nothing: it should be used as a companion to the lesson, not as the lesson itself, and still requires educators to take an active role.
Are you already using videos as a new format for your lessons? Or would you try to use it? Let us know your opinion by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org!