Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Zero Effort Videos (not just for flipping)

I've gone back and forth on my thoughts about flipping the class, but that is not the point of this post. Flipped classroom aside, I think there are some really good reasons to record direct instruction:

1. For students who are absent.
2. For students to review.
3. To store up a bank of videos for future use.

So, I've spent this entire year recording all of my direct instruction . . . LIVE*.

Live videos are not perfect. They contain mistakes, interruptions, announcements over the intercom, and (my personal favorite) fire alarms (followed by my voice, "Nooooooo!", it happened). I have definitely had to let go of my perfectionist tendencies to put them out there.

Obviously, live videos are not useful for flipping. Unless, like me, you teach the same courses every year and are willing to delay the flip for a year while you make recordings. Then BAM, there you go.

On the up side, live videos have some great benefits. I can pause and check for understanding and then address misconceptions as part of the video. Student questions and answers naturally become part of the video as well. After class, I can make them available to absent students with a couple of clicks. I can also save what I have written as a pdf and make that available, too.

I am mostly happy with the results (minus the noticeable raw-ness of the videos). The process could not be easier. Not counting the practice needed to become proficient with the equipment I am using, I have spent zero extra time creating videos. I just hit the record button whenever I say something in front of the class.

I wanted to know how many of my students were using the videos or pdfs, so I gave a quick survey:

28% said they had never used either, indicating that they didn't have internet access (computers are readily available at school, so not exactly a good excuse), or that they simply preferred getting help from me or another student in class.

The remaining 72% had used one or the other or both. Many said that they appreciated these resources and found them to be very helpful. The majority sited one or the other as the primary method they used to catch up after being absent from class.

I am encouraged by these numbers, and I plan to continue to live record in the future. Technology has provided me with a low effort, high result means for communicating with my students. I am still on the fence about the flip.

*The mechanics:  To create my live videos I use a smart slate, a blue snowball microphone, a mac mini, and projector. The result is a Khan Academy-ish screen cast where you hear the teacher talking and watch the writing magically appear. I am sure there are other means to accomplish the same thing. In fact, these tools are not necessarily my first choice. They are standard (except for the microphone) in all the classrooms at my school, so I am just using what is available. The smart slate takes a lot of practice. I have also used an interwrite pad and felt it was a bit more user-friendly.

1 comment:

  1. Amy, this is a great idea which lots of teachers could use. I'm impressed by the numbers of students who say they have used the videos or PDFs - very encouraging for you.

    How different would it be to use a camera rather than the smart slate, do you think?

    I am toying with the idea of capturing my teaching in some way for students to use offline; this post has encouraged me to keep working on it.