In an era of remote teaching and learning due to the global pandemic, teachers and students are relying on video more than ever before.
Video in education can mean a lot of things:
Teachers finding and sharing videos someone else has made
Educators creating their own videos, often as a screencast or piece to camera
Teachers hosting video conferences
Students creating their own videos — tutorials, reflections, stop motion, animation or more
Video is an everyday part of most students’ lives and can be a crucial tool in a remote learning curriculum.
But what tools and equipment should you use to create videos, screencasts, or live conferences? Where can you find high-quality videos that others have made? And what’s the best way to share videos you’ve made with others?
This guide will help.
This post walks you through all aspects of using videos in education.
Click on the links below to navigate this resource.
Note: This post includes honest reviews of a variety of tools. We have no affiliations with any of the brands mentioned in this post.
Creating Videos For Students
When you can’t teach your students face to face, personalized video can be the next best option.
Even during regular school times, many teachers see the advantages of flipping their classrooms. That means students can learn some content outside of class time (often via video, podcasts, or reading). That frees up time on campus for deeper work, discussions, and projects.
So how exactly do you create videos for your students? And should you be pre-recording videos or just running live video conferences?
There are two main options for sharing videos with your learners: synchronous or asynchronous.
Let’s weigh up both options.
Synchronous Videos (Live streaming/Conferences)
This means real-time streaming. It could be a live stream (like on YouTube) or an interactive video conference (like on Zoom).
Some synchronous videos can be recorded so they can be viewed again at a later date. This is useful if students can’t attend the live stream, they have technology issues, or need to revise the content.
Some schools find synchronous videos to be a powerful way to keep the class connected.
Students can gain feedback, seek clarification, and get answers to their questions quickly.
Synchronous video conferences can be used in a range of ways: class meetings, office hours (drop in to ask a question), live recess (just for fun), or focussed study groups.
There can be privacy issues if students are shown in synchronous videos and they’re recorded.
There is also the issue of internet access if students are required to attend regular long live conferences. This can really chew up families’ home internet and can be a major barrior in rural/disadvantaged areas.
Passively sitting in on lecture-style video conferences can eat into time that could be used on more productive learning and projects.
Asynchronous Videos (Recorded Videos/Screencasts)
This means you record videos that can be viewed (and reviewed) when it suits the student. Your videos could be a simple “piece to camera” or a screencast.
Screencasting is where you narrate a video recording of your computer screen. Sometimes it’s just audio and sometimes you can see your face in the video as well.
For some students, asynchronous learning can be more convenient and allow them to learn at a time and place that works.
Students can work at their own pace and revise information as needed.
It can be hard for teachers to know whether students watched the videos or are engaging with the work.
It can be time-consuming to request clarification if some concepts are not fully understood.
You might find it’s useful to use both synchronous and asynchronous videos at different times.
Here’s a brief summary of what synchronous and asynchronous remote learning looks like:
Now you know more about the options, we’ll take a look at some popular tools for recording both synchronous and asynchronous videos.
Popular Tools for Synchronous (Live) Video Conferences
There are many tools out there that allow you to connect with students via video. This can really help to unite the class.
Four of the most popular video-conferencing options for teachers and schools include:
Zoom — Robust software designed exclusively for video conferencing.
Microsoft Teams — Communication and collaboration platform that’s part of Office 365.
Webex — Cisco tool for video conferencing, online meetings, screen share, and webinars.
These tools all allow video conferences with screen sharing capabilities.
The teacher can start the conference and share the access link with the students.
Students can access the conference at the specified time using any device (e.g. laptop or tablet).
Some people like to use external microphones, headphones, or webcams, however, the camera and microphone attached to your device are probably fine for getting started.
Here is a quick comparison of the free plans for Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts Meet, and Webex Meetings:
Notes on Live Video Tools:
Safety comes first! Your school or district probably has advice about which video conferencing tool you should use and which settings should be employed. As an example, Zoom has released some best practices in this PDF.
Zoom, Meet, and Webex temporarily upgraded their free plans for educators but these offers have now ended for Meet and Webex. If your school Zoom account hasn’t already been upgraded, you can apply here to remove the 40 min time limit.
Some teachers are also experimenting with live streaming on YouTube. For teenagers, it’s a platform they’re often already familiar with and they can comment in real-time.
Popular Tools for Recording Screencasts
There are a number of tools available to record screencasts (asynchronous videos). Like many online tools, there are free plans and paid plans.
Let’s compare four of the most popular screencasting tools teachers are using for recording lessons.
This chart compares the features of the free or free education plans (paid plans have more features).
Notes On Screencasting Tools
I’ve written a blog post specifically about Loom if you want to learn more. There are no age restrictions so students can use Loom if you want them to make screencasts. The pro Education version is free to teachers and students forever.
You’ll remember that Zoom is a popular tool for video conferencing. The 40 minute time limit on free accounts has been temporarily removed for educators. To record a screencast using Zoom, you start a meeting with yourself as the only participant and record the conference. You can’t record if you’re using the Zoom iOS app.
Lumen5 contains a library of Creative Commons Zero images and music so you don’t need to search for content either (although you can use your own pictures and video).
The free plan is becoming increasingly restrictive. As of November 2020, it allows you to make 3 videos a month with the Lumen5 watermark.
The only downside (apart from it being a 13+ tool) is you can’t embed your video directly onto your blog. So you have to put it on social media or YouTube first and then get the embed code from there. Or you could download the video and upload it directly into your post/page if it’s a small file.
There are a number of ways you can create simple animations online. Two free tools you might be interested in exploring or using with your students include PowToon and Biteable.
Both of these tools have free plans and can be used by students under 13, however, they do require students to sign up via email.
Powtoon’s free plan allows you to make 3 minute videos with the Powtoon branding visible. Biteable’s free plan allows you to create as many videos as you like (with a watermark) and share 10 of them.
One benefit of PowToon over Biteable is that you can download your finished product as a PowerPoint or PDF file. You can only download your Biteable creation with a paid plan; you have to share your Biteable video by embedding it or sharing a link with the free plan.
You can embed both PowToon and Biteable videos into your blog posts or pages.