How can I make my students small?

Pupils create explanatory videos: three practical tips

YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram: the students watch countless videos every day. Learning videos are also becoming increasingly popular - and the short video sequences are actually very well suited to illustrate learning content. However, the pupils deal with the subject matter even more intensively than when they simply "consume" ready-made explanatory videos when they become active themselves.

Why don't you give it a try: Have your students create explanatory videos in small groups. Each group prepares a certain topic (sub) area for the classmates; You then integrate the finished video into the corresponding lesson unit. The following tips will turn it into an exciting project that everyone will benefit from!

Perhaps you are a true new media expert and fitter than your students when it comes to technology. Or maybe you make tutorial videos nervous in class - especially if you want students to create them themselves. Either way: The best thing to do is to take a relaxed approach to the "experiment" and allow both the students and yourself a certain learning curve. Make yourself aware that not everything has to run perfectly and smoothly. And if you prepare yourself mentally for minor stumbling blocks in advance, you can deal with them in a relaxed manner if there is still a need for clarification or adjustment.

Feel free to speak openly that the project is new to you too and make it palatable to your students as an exciting joint experiment. You can also save yourself the stress of feeling 100% responsible for the success of your own success: Transfer responsibility to the students - where it makes sense - and tap into the specialist knowledge of your students. After all, young people often know their way around the technical area very well. You don't have to "compete" with this knowledge - just be glad that the students already have a lot of skills and practical resources to draw on.

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Ideally, explanatory videos are created in (small) group work that present concrete content in an entertaining and clear manner. This is by no means about elaborate, comprehensive educational films that may fill entire school lessons - but about explanatory "bits of knowledge" in video form that explain and convey certain learning content. So that the students deal intensively with their (group) topic and create varied videos, it is best to leave it up to them how exactly they want to prepare the content. However, you should discuss the basic rules together and, if necessary, record them again in the form of a task sheet or a checklist for everyone.

It is important that the students always keep their target group in mind. After all, everything has to be comprehensible, understandable and comprehensively explained for the classmates who have not dealt with the topic. Also, think about the essential framework conditions in advance and make them binding for everyone.

  • How many (small) groups should there be, how many videos should there be?
  • Which specific subject areas should the students prepare in learning videos?
  • Which group takes on which topic?
  • When should the students work on it - together at home or (also) in class?
  • When is "submission" for which topic or for which group?
  • What organizational effort may still arise?

Make sure you narrow down the topics well and make a binding agreement on the time frame. In addition to the "deadlines", this also applies to the duration of the video. A 30-minute film is not very realistic and also makes little sense. Depending on the topic and the effort involved, videos with a length of 5–10 minutes are usually suitable.

Explain to the students that they are responsible for ensuring that their explanatory video can be shown in class on the agreed day. On the one hand, this of course means that you have to finish your video on time - but also that you have to keep the playback options in the back of your mind and bring everything you need with you. Record the technical options available for your lessons and the form or file format in which the students must bring their videos. In addition to the pure video game time, you should also plan time for the meeting. There may still be questions that you can then clarify together in peace.

You can only assign the topics to the groups and then let the students research independently, set priorities and take care of the visualization and implementation. Or you can give the young people the important content in the form of worksheets so that they can concentrate primarily on the preparation in video form.

When it comes to the question of how exactly they want to implement "their" content, it is best to give the students a free hand. This creates very different and often very impressive results. For example, students can ...

  • make a group member the "moderator" and film a kind of short presentation on the topic;
  • you can use animated drawings for visualization;
  • You can fade in infographics or images and have a group member explain them as the speaker via "voiceover";
  • they can pull up their explanatory video like a news broadcast or
  • Present content and processes in a scenic way.

There are no limits to creativity: the content can be presented seriously or with a wink, explained by a speaker or just accompanied by music, lavishly staged or implemented with very simple means.

The students will probably also surprise you with the technical implementation. Smartphones, tablets and computers make video recordings child's play. Many young people also master apps and programs such as iMovie, InShot or VideoShow, which can be used to cut and edit videos, in their sleep. If your class consists of technology fans, you can simply let the young people decide (or research) for themselves which technical means they want to use.

If you have various technical grudges in your class, you can of course collect ideas together in advance and create a "resource list". Or you can make sure when dividing the groups that there is a technology fan in each group who will be happy to take care of them in case of doubt.

The exact results are of course a surprise - especially if you let the students do their own research and focus on the content. If this makes you nervous, have each group send you the finished video well in advance. In this way, you can calmly prepare additional information or supplementary worksheets so that all important content is actually shown and discussed in the corresponding lesson.

Do not hesitate to consider whether there are any small customization options that will make the "Explanatory Videos Experiment" even easier for you to implement. Then let the students do it and let them surprise you. You'll see, it's worth it!

The "Teach digitally" series offers lesson plans for the uncomplicated use of digital media with explanations, information, explanations, instructions and teaching methods for immediate implementation.


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