Learning videos – an idea of how to use them

Lots of teachers these days use learning videos to enrich their teaching and offer their students a variety of advantages to support their learning.

One advantage is a relatively easy approach to fit to the individual needs of every student:

Each learner can make use of the pause- or rewind buttons as well as watch the whole video as often as she needs and likes to. In addition you can offer videos on the same topic but with different levels of difficulty or in depth detail. In language learning you can also offer little films in the target language or in the student’s mother tongue. Some teachers prefer to use the videos in class others opt for some kind of flipped learning to have more hands-on and/or discussion time in class.

I’ve used some videos (mainly on topics such as writing skills or grammar) for the past years but I always thought that using the videos as a form of input with a more or less passive learner on the other end hasn’t triggered all the changes I would like to see. Of course I used things such as feedback tools to determine the progress or the further needs after using these videos.

But still I think learners should not only be able to use videos I (or any teacher) selected or (sometimes even tailor-) made for them.

If they are to be autonomous learners there is the need to know more.

So very soon I started to put the focus on two additional aspects:

Step 1: Students finding and judging existing learning videos

Step 2: Students making good learning videos themselves

Here’s an idea for a task outline of how Step 1 could be tackled:

As a teacher find a suitable topic first. It could be English tenses, writing tasks, the French revolution … (there are so many …;-))

Some kind of pre-task might be useful. Talk about a sample learning video (good or bad, still I prefer good samples) before the students start doing steps a-f. The following questions (1 – 3) could be useful for this pre-teaching as well as for the students to complete their task later.

1 Is the video easy to understand? Why / why not?

2 Are there good examples that help you understanding the rules?

3 Is there a good use of pictures / and visuals? Are they helpful or a distraction?

Here’s the students’ task outline:

a) Find a few learning videos on youtube or vimeo. Think about suitable key words. Find three videos you like.

b) Copy the links of the videos you like into a Pages document.

c) Watch the videos again and take notes about things you like and you maybe would do


d) Make a Top-3-List. Rank your three videos first, second and third.

e) Join two classmates. Compare your lists. Which do you think is the best video? Watch, discuss and be ready to present your ideas.

f) Hand in your Top-3-List. (This can be done via one shared Pages-document).

The Top-3-Lists can then be edited (either by students or the teacher) and shared. Students can then use the videos for their further learning. The process almost guarantees that a rich variety of videos is listed, so a lot of personal needs or likes by every individual student could also be met.

By discussing, comparing, evaluating and presenting their findings (e) students also have a chance to improve their speaking and presentation skills.