By Dr. Ramiro Zuniga
I always find it interesting whenever I hear comments from individuals concerned about the perceived improper use of technology in our classrooms.
Earlier this month, I spoke to three such individuals whose concerns centered on the overuse of online instructional videos in place of direct instruction. Each of them was concerned that too much reliance on online instructional videos could result in a negative impact on instruction. At the end of each discussion, I affirmed that their concerns were legitimate.
The first individual shared with me a conversation that occurred between herself and a teacher. In their conversation, the teacher spoke fervently about her continuous use of videos with her students. The teacher indicated that the use of videos made teaching much easier. Unfortunately, the teacher left the impression that she either lacked the knowledge or the desire to teach.
The second individual to whom I spoke questioned the use of instructional videos in a flipped classroom setting. Typically, flipped classroom instruction is carried out by students watching online videos and accessing other resources at home and then working on assignments during class time. The concern in this instance was whether it was realistic to think students would actually watch the videos at home.
The third individual was worried that those producing the instructional videos did not possess the training and subject matter certification that a traditional teacher would. He wondered aloud whether the creators of the instructional videos being used by his children’s teachers used correct terminology. He wasn’t sure that a two- or three-minute video provided enough of an explanation about any specific topic.
Of course, these are concerns that I have heard in the past. Certainly, these are concerns about which teachers and administrators should be fully aware as they design their lesson plans.
It is critical that teachers balance the use of instructional videos in a way that does not minimize their own contributions. Instructional videos should serve to enhance and supplement direct instruction. It may seem to be common sense, but teachers should review every video thoroughly to ensure the accuracy of the instruction being delivered.
Administrators should ensure that parents are informed about the use of instructional videos so that concerns are minimized. Parents should thoroughly understand how the online videos will be used. They should also know that the teachers are still responsible for the learning that is taking place in the classroom. Furthermore, parents should be aware that campus administrators are actively monitoring how instruction is being carried out in each class and making adjustments as needed.
I would encourage school districts to create a library of their own instructional videos. It is no more difficult for a teacher to create an instructional video than it is for anyone else. Doing so would definitely address the concern of instruction being delivered by a qualified individual.
As with any instructional innovation, educators will continue to incorporate online instructional videos in an effort to reach and engage each of their students. The fact that students are constantly watching online videos makes the use of online instructional videos more appealing to teachers. A second appeal of online videos is the 24/7 availability.
There is no doubt that online video instruction can be a viable method for the delivery of instruction. As with any instructional innovation, it should be understood that there is a learning curve for how to best use this technology.
Maximizing the positive impact of this technology requires planning, training, and practice. In the end, it is up to each educator, both teacher and administrator, to do their part to ensure that technology is used productively.