Let’s stop and think about student experiences as we design our remote learning lessons. Hosting live instruction videos is overrated. How can teachers use live videos to really help their students? When should teachers use recorded videos or live videos? Let’s dig into this discussion and chat more about why less is more when it comes to live videos with remote learning.

When To Go Live & When To Record

Synchronous (live) videos & asynchronous (recorded) videos have their own strengths and weaknesses. It can be confusing for many teachers to hear that live videos might be a waste of time. After all, many teachers have been in many live videos during online staff meetings with principals and then in live videos collaborating with peers. Why shouldn’t teachers host a live video each time they introduce new instruction online? Well, let’s break it down below:

Benefits to Recorded Videos

  • Access for Students - Students can watch recorded videos at a time that best suits them. That could be 6:00am on a Monday for one student or 11:00pm on a Friday for another student. Some students may not be able to join your live video and they would have no way to see what they missed. 
  • Watch & Rewatch - Recorded videos allow students to pause, play, and rewind. Maybe a student is hearing the teacher explain a new concept for the first time. If so, with a recorded video the student is able to pause the video to provide some time to process new information before resuming and taking in more content. Also, the student is able to rewind the video to rewatch content that was confusing to them. Lastly, with recorded videos, students are able to rewatch the entire video, or small sections of the video as many times as they would like. Perhaps a student needs to rewatch the first 3 minutes of that video on the Industrial Revolution a few days after they initially viewed it.
  • Share & Collaborate - Teachers can easily share recorded videos with other teachers. Why reinvent the video each and every time? Collaborate with fellow teachers. Share recorded videos, use less time creating your own content and use more of your time interacting with students and providing feedback.

Cons to Live Videos

  • Large Groups - Live videos with large groups can get messy, very messy. It’s a pain for a teacher to manage muting and unmuting students in large groups when kids have something to say. Also, many kids might not have a chance to speak in a large group live video setting.
  • No Pause Button - If a student gets confused in a live video session there is no pause button for the student to process their thoughts. The teacher might need to keep going to stay on schedule and some students can get left behind.
  • I Missed It - With live videos, students could have missed your video for a variety of reasons. How will they get caught up on the content?

Effective Ways to use Live Videos

  • Facilitate Small Group Discussions - Instead of trying to teach a live session to your entire class, try breaking your class into smaller groups (10 or less is best). Then teachers can facilitate student discussions with small groups. It’s much easier for the teacher to manage a small group in a video chat and it's much easier for each student to have a voice in a small group setting.
  • Follow-Up Q&A Sessions - Use live sessions to follow up your recorded videos. Host a few Q&A live sessions shortly after posting your recorded videos. Invite students to your Q&A sessions that have questions about the content in the recorded videos. Use a shared Google Doc or the Google Slides Q&A feature to gather questions before or during your Q&A session. This method gives more specific, individualized attention to a small group of students as opposed to the 'one size fits all' whole group live instruction video.
  • 1:1 Conferencing with Students - Zoom & Google Meet are great for hosting those 1:1 conferences with your students. Use a formative assessment tool like Google Forms to see who needs help, or simply ask students to contact you if they would like a 1:1 conference. This is a great way to connect with your students and keep them engaged in their learning.

“But Ryan, why can’t I just record all of my whole group live lessons and then post the recordings for others to watch later?” you might be wondering. Well, you can, however, I suggest doing this once in a while if you feel the need. Some students might feel like they missed out on a live opportunity and some students might be distracted by seeing so many other kids in your video. Instead, chunk it up. Create several shorter recorded videos. Make three 5-minute videos as opposed to one 15-minute video. It’s a lot easier for students to find what they are looking for as they review shorter videos, and those shorter videos are a better fit for our audience's attention span.