We may have grown up on television, but our students are growing up on YouTube. And while that may seem a difference with little significance, it’s not. The video content on YouTube is more diverse, portable, and functional than television broadcast. It often comes in short chunks, and those chunks serve a specific user purpose. Search and recommendations serve content based on viewer characteristics much more responsively than television. YouTube is truly television for a different age, and as we grew up expecting audio-visual stimulation in our world, our student expect that and so much more.
Enter Arbor Hills teacher Anna Drake-Kotz. Anna teaches sixth grade science, and she has been a strong user and advocate of interactive video instruction through the platform of Edpuzzle. You may have attended her professional development session in October of 2016, and if you did, you’ll be familiar with the lesson she’s running on this late start Wednesday in December. On this day, Anna’s students are continuing their study of matter, with particular attention to pure substances, mixtures, and their qualities. But, rather than lecturing or reading from a textbook, the students are learning the concepts through interactive videos Anna has created in Edpuzzle.
Here’s how it goes: Anna finds instructional video content that she likes. Today, she is using short videos from Crash Course Kids. She uploads those videos to Edpuzzle, which enables her to create questions embedded in the video themselves. Then, she shares those videos with her students through Google Classroom. The students log in and watch the video. At planned points of the video, the playback stops and Anna’s question appears. The student must answer before moving on. Results from these quiz questions flow directly to Anna’s teacher dashboard in Edpuzzle, where she can see results, reset videos for students, and plan for further instruction.
But why do this instead of a traditional lecture and discussion? After all, those traditional approaches, with the right teacher, can be dynamic, engaging performances that capture students’ attention. But, the approach Anna is developing here will not only meet her students in a learning mode with which they feel comfortable, but will also fuel further instructional change. Anna could assign the videos for homework to create a flipped classroom approach. Instead of assigning students traditional text reading at home, an Edpuzzle video could be assigned. Students could then report to class ready to explore the concepts actively, and Anna could use the results of the Edpuzzle quizzes to modify her instruction. Moving direct instruction to this mode offers other benefits as well. Absent or homebound students would not miss out on direct instruction. Also, all students are required to engage themselves with active thinking during the instruction. Interactive quizzes and the Internet technology that serves them provide such clear and flexible benefits that they should be considered vital tools in any modern teacher’s tool box.
Especially when the resource is so simple to use for both the teacher and the students. Edpuzzle integrates with Google Classroom, so classes can be created through importing from Classroom and videos can be posted directly back to the Classroom. Teachers can search for publicly shared videos on Edpuzzle, curating material rather than creating it. Videos can be created through sourcing YouTube content, which is vast and valuable. Teachers can customize content as well, even including their own voice over (as Anna once did to clarify one of the video’s discussions of states of matter, a topic net broached until next chapter).
Today, the students are seeing the benefits. As they complete three interactive videos of approximately three minutes each, they work at their own pace, sometimes disappearing silently into the work, at other times collaborating with peers. All the while, Anna floats around the room, helping students as needed and monitoring completion. The dashboard fills the Smartboard in the front of the classroom, so Anna can monitor progress at a glance. This instruction finishes quickly, which is perfect for the shortened period today, but it leaves students ready for the applied lab practice with chemical reactions scheduled for next week.
The work Anna is doing here today may seem simple, but its impact is huge. Developing interactive video content like this gives students more control over resources for learning while maintaining Anna’s guidance. In the YouTube age, it just makes sense.
Also, search for Anna’s videos on Edpuzzle