Never Out of Time: How to Get the Most from Instructional Videos

tesol16-twitter-presenter-graphicNext week I’ll be traveling to Baltimore for the annual TESOL convention. My colleague Vicki Hollett and I will be presenting on videomaking. We’ll focus on the planning, filming, and production, but there is certainly more we could discuss with teachers.

One thing I like to hear about is how other teachers make use of the ESL videos I post online. Some simply mention my YouTube channel to their students as a possible resource for self-study. Others find excerpts they can play in class. Before I had even heard the term blended learning, I knew that some teachers were having students watch my videos to support what they either were doing or would be doing in class.

Compared to 2007, when I first began to publish on YT, we have more resources available today – more content as well as more platforms. Even textbooks are changing presentation and delivery. A series like Next Generation Grammar,which offers short video tutorials for every chapter, reflects the growing practice of using more class time for production, communication, and expansion. I’ve used my own videos outside of a live class to reduce the amount of explanation needed in class. This has allowed me to turn 60 minutes into a more meaningful and productive session.

How can we get the most out of an instructional video? Here are a few thoughts.

1. Don’t waste time in or out of class. If only part of a video is relevant to your lesson, then share that customized link with students. On YouTube you can share a video that starts at the exact time you need. Be sure to use this option when it’s appropriate. If it’s your own video, edit it for length.

2. Create a space where comments and questions can be posted at any time. I’ve been learning to use Facebook posts as a way to narrow in on a specific grammar point. I use an excerpt from a longer video as the main content of the post. Then I pose a question or create a short task for learners. This nicely keeps all related posts in one thread. You could do the same on a class page after uploading, embedding, or linking to a video. Even if you don’t have time to respond to all the questions, you can at least know what they are in advance. Then in class, you can take time to clarify a point without having to reteach it.

3. Encourage students to watch additional related videos. We all know that extended listening is beneficial. It has a place alongside focused listening tasks. So once students get the nuts and bolts of a topic from a 5-minute language tutorial, do they have to wait until the next class to get more exposure?

We can anticipate students’ curiosity or challenge students to seek more on their own time. For instance, I’ve given post-class lists of recommended links. In the case of pronunciation, I identified a few songs that made use of the sounds and aspects we covered in class. I included suggestions on how to listen to those songs. I’ve also encouraged students to listen to more than one tutorial on a topic. Any overlap will only reinforce their understanding. Any differences will become points to clarify in class.

The beauty of instructional videos is that they are easily accessible and can be easily controlled by each viewer (e.g., pause, rewind, turn on captions). Moreover, videos played outside of class can free up time during synchronous instruction.

Got more tips for getting the most out of instructional videos? Please feel free to share them.




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