Teaching with video is a powerful tool, and, in the youth curriculum particularly, video is essential. The effective use of video in the classroom is critical. If done improperly, it’s way worse than no video at all.
There are some guidelines for making sure that you are being wise and effective in the way that you use it. Here are nine tips every teacher can use to make sure that you are using videos in a way that invites the Spirit and benefits your class.
1. First, you must decide if you are going to use video at all.
To help you decide, ask these questions:
- Can it do something other media or the text by itself can’t?
- Will it invite or increase the Spirit?
- Is it completely aligned with the content?
- Am I overusing it?
If the class sees you and thinks, “Video today,” you’re overusing it. No technique is so amazing it should be used every single week, and video is no different.
As with any technique, use it moderately for best results. If you are showing a video nearly every time, you are diminishing the effectiveness of even very good videos.
2. If you do decide to use video, you need to decide how much of a video to use.
You are not restricted to only showing entire videos. Services like clipconverter.cc can edit video, and later versions of PowerPoint can edit video from within that program. Apple products come with video editing software as well.
You also need to decide how much time overall to spend on video. Do not allow it to dominate an entire class.
Part of a video’s power lies in the video itself, while the other parts consist of the discussion and contemplation of the video. Leave a little space around the video for these other essential parts.Set it up first or don’t use it at all.
3. You must give context for the video you show.
Just saying, “We’re going to watch this video,” is not sufficient. This is a critical concept.
Use these steps to prepare the class for the video:
Give context for the video, either historical or doctrinal.
If you don’t know it, use the study helps in the back of the scriptures, listen/watch the scriptures discussions done by BYU’s religious education faculty, or consult quality gospel study aids.
Give the rationale for using the video
Explain why you are showing this particular video by saying something like, “This video clip will show us how this principle worked in one person’s life.”
Give “look for” hints, such as
- questions – use the question stems handout for ideas
- doctrinal points – for example, you can say something like, “As we watch this video clip, let’s watch particularly for the way the idea of mercy is manifest.”
- points of connection to the topic – for example, you can say something like, “Let’s watch how all of these ideas we’ve discussed today come together in this video clip.
4. Always download the videos ahead of time.
Do not rely on internet connections. It will save you worry (and perhaps panic). Additionally, it will often improve the quality of the video.
5. Don’t be afraid to pause mid-video for discussion.
Just because a video came with a beginning and an end point, you are not required to obey them as a commandment. The use of pausing, particularly in longer segments, keeps the class focused on the key concepts of the video.
When you pause, refer back to the questions you posed, analyze what’s been seen so far, predict what will come, and/or point out important phrases or images.
Additionally, consider breaking up longer videos into several different smaller videos.
6. Have a large enough screen or don’t show the video.
If you think, “Hmm, I wonder if the class can see this?,” you need a bigger screen.
Use good speakers if you are showing a video from a laptop or other smaller device. Keep in mind that people will give up on bad audio and turn out faster than they will give up on poor video quality.
As the video is playing, occasionally position yourself in different areas of the class so you can see and hear what the class is seeing and hearing.
7. Deconstruct the video when it’s done.
Don’t just move on.
Spend quality time asking quality questions, making sure to revisit what you brought up in the set up to the video.
If you pose questions and thoughts before viewing the video and then do not return to them, you leave the class hanging and decrease the likelihood of participation in the future.
8. Avoid ambushing the class with questions you did not prepare them for ahead of time.
You will get better quality discussion when people have the opportunity to think about the questions and their insights.
This also makes it more likely that the same people who always talk will dominate the conversation, while others who need more time to reflect will say nothing.
9. Have a back up plan.
If the video won’t play, be sure you are ready to do something else without draining the energy of the room by talking about how there was supposed to be a video but it wouldn’t play.
Always keep in mind that video is powerful, but like any powerful tool, misused it is far worse than no video at all.