As a school, we’ve decided to spend time this term making teaching videos. There are two reasons for this:

  1. it will help our students who aren’t in school and generally prepare everyone in the event of a school closer
  2. it’s a great way to improve our modelling

It’s difficult to know what “worst case scenario” means, but if we never need to shut or lockdown or whatever, reason 2 is still incredibly powerful.

Over the last lockdown, I made 44 videos for Oak National Academy and close to 20 for Boxer’s Shorts. I made a lot of mistakes, got some great feedback and also had to work out a whole bunch of things for myself. This is inefficient, so I wrote the list below to help out my colleagues if they were interested. You might be interested too, so hopefully it will help you as well. Please note that I don’t pretend to have perfected anything, these are just things that I found useful. I’m also grateful to my boss at school who pushed me to clarify a couple of points.

Technicals and logistics 

  • I use Zoom for video recording 
    • Super easy, you are videoing within a matter of clicks, works on any device 
    • Saves locally (i.e. to your computer and not straight to the internet) so no need to worry about dodgy connection or wifi ruining a 45 minute recording session 
    • Puts your face and a screen side by side (or overlayed) with ease 
    • Can swap between multiple cameras (e.g. webcam and visualiser) 
  • Lapel mics are advised (£10 from amazon, worth it) 
  • Ensure there is no light source behind you, it should be in front of you (preferably slightly off to the side) 
  • Where possible, raise the webcam so it is at eye level 
  • Visualisers are extremely helpful 
  • If using a mini-whiteboard, use an Edding 361 pen 
  • If writing on paper, use a fine tip felt pen, Stabilo OHP (fine) pens are a good choice
  • Squared paper is also very helpful – I use paper with 1cm squares
  • I’ve been dabbling with a tablet recently, which is also a great option if you have a good one 
  • If editing is needed, use Windows Movie Maker (or VSDC editor, though it is a bit more complicated) 
  • Don’t be surprised if it takes ages to save when you are processing a video, this is normal 
  • If you make a mistake, immediately pause recording. Mistakes are fine, and you will definitely make them. Sort the mistake out, resume recording and just say “really sorry I made a little error there so I paused the video to fix it. The mistake was…it’s wrong because…” and then carry on as before 
  • Don’t be afraid to use a script. Think hard about what you want to say, write a script and read that out, even if it is just to start you off past the initial awkwardness  

Teaching and learning 

  • Talk slowly and deliberately, with a clear and formal register.
  • When we talk to students about revising, we tell them to avoid just reading, but to actively engage through questioning. The same is true in videos. You want them to avoid watching your video like they watch TV, you need to draw them in. Do this by building in question points and saying things like “what type of triangle is this? Speak out your answer now. [pause]. Good, it’s a right angled triangle because it has…”
  • Take as many opportunities as you can to do stuff like this without breaking the flow of your explanation
  • Avoid reading text out from the board – your students know how to read
    • The exception here is if you are modelling how to read – where to pause, what to underline etc. In that case a script like this may help: “ok I’d like you to read this passage for me please. Pause the video if you need more time. Ok, you should only be listening to me now if you have finished the passage. I want you to listen carefully to me as I go through the passage and tell you all the things I think are important…”
  • Assume that the second something goes up on the board, students are looking at that and not listening to you. Use phrases like 
    • “Just have a look at the image for a little bit by yourself” 
    • “Ok I’d like you to stop looking at the picture and listen to me now please [wait] so what we are looking at is…” 
    • “you’ve had a really good look for yourself without me saying anything, I’d like you to try these questions really quickly. Go back in the video if you want to see it again” 
  • Don’t use fancy animations, but do use “appear” if you want. For example, if you have a three paragraph text you want students to read and analyse 
    • Add animation so first paragraph appears 
    • Wait till students have read it 
    • At this point you can talk about something of note in the first paragraph or set a couple of questions, or 
    • Add animation so the second paragraph appears 
    • Repeat 
  • Less on a slide is more. A large number of your students will be using mobile phones so putting lots of text up isn’t a good call 
  • Break material into small chunks, each one followed by student practice  
  • Should follow an I/we/you system. For example: 
    • Model how you want students to do a particular task 
    • Then say “pause the video and do it yourself” but only for one part of the task/one question – not the whole thing 
    • Say “you should now only be watching the video if you have done the task” 
    • Go over that task speaking aloud as much as you can 
    • Emphasise possible student error, don’t just say “this is right” but also “this is wrong because…”
    • Say “if you got that mostly right, then feel free to carry on with the exercise by yourself. Pause the video now and get started. If you didn’t understand it, go back to the start of my explanation and watch it again as well as trying the example we just finished again” 
    • Go back to “you should now only be watching the video if you have done the task” 
    • Repeat 
  • An alternative way to do this: let’s say you have four questions you want students to do after you have modelled how to do it. Say “if you haven’t got a clue where to start, listen to me as I start to work through the first one. As soon as you think you can do it for yourself, pause the video and get on with it. You can then finish the questions and then press play to hear the rest of the answers”
  • Reject Self Report: this TLAC technique applies to video lessons as well as in class. Do not say things like “if you think you understand this then let’s carry on” and instead say things like “ok before we carry on I want you to pause the video and answer the question…[wait]…ok you should only be watching the video now if you have answered the question. When I do this, the answer I get is…if you got that, great, carry on with the lesson. If you didn’t…” etc.  
  • Remind your students that it is important that they actively participate “there is no point you doing this video if you aren’t going to put pen to paper and do the questions”
  • When going over work, do not display answers at first. If you do, students will immediately start marking their work and not listening to you. Instead try “so the answer to the first one should be…some of you may have written…this is wrong because…so when we think about…” and then put the formal written answer on the board.
  • Over-model: your students probably need more modelling and examples than you realise. Make sure you give them enough.  

(I accidentally posted this on the CogSciSci site first, so sorry for spamming your inbox. I’m very tired. It’s been a long term [three weeks])