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Instructional Videos

And the winner for best instructional film clip is . . .  I did not hear that category last night during the Academy Awards but, with every other category imaginable, it is possible I just missed it.  We do love the movies.  If pictures are worth a thousand words, then movies might even have an edge over pictures for instructional effect.  Instructional videos are now readily available through the OTC Learning Resource Center’s link to Films on Demand and also on web sites such as YouTube for Schools ( and Khan Academy (   However, showing a long video in class will soon have students glazed over thicker than a Krispy Kreme.  We have to be very selective about what video clips we incorporate in our class to insure that they relate closely to the topic.  I recommend keeping video clips to no more than a few minutes otherwise students will check out mentally.  Video clips can be used to reinforce concepts, stimulate discussion, or to take a quick field trip to show a real world example of what is being discussed in class.

Instead of using pre-made videos, an option is to make your own video clips that are succinct and get directly to the point you are trying to reinforce.  Kathy Webb uses Screencast to develop short videos for her on-line classes in Health Information Technology.  She even produced a video on how to access her videos at  These short “how-to” videos demonstrate, step-by-step, how to perform a task.  They can be incorporated into seated classes as well.  Often when an instructor explains how an assignment is to be completed the students appear to understand but when they get home and attempt the assignment the details are forgotten.  The videos she produces provide a refresher on how a task is completed.  Here is a video she developed on how to Creating a Pie Chart using Excel  Kathy says that this “works beautifully in my online classes.  Students love it!”

Daniel Kopsas also uses video to give math students the opportunity to “discover” the mathematics they’re supposed to learn. Daniel feels that if students “can make connections themselves, they will have ownership of what they’re learning as well as a better understanding of it.”  He provides discovery opportunities by having them watch video tutorials at home that cover upcoming topics. After they watch the videos, he has them complete a few simple tasks such as working problems or answering questions to help them make sense of the concepts introduced in the videos. When the students come to class they discuss what they’ve done and are ready for more challenging work over the same concepts.

This website from University of Wisconsin provides more ideas on using streaming video in your teaching.

Bad joke to start the week

This week’s joke comes from the movie Jurassic Park.

What do you call a blind dinosaur?

A Do-you-think-he-saurus.

Last thought

Every truth has four corners: as a teacher I give you one corner, and it is for you to find the other three.


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