With school across the world forced into remote learning, many teachers have found themselves recording videos to provide instruction to their students. Teachers might be asking themselves many questions about the videos they create for their students. Do my videos look professional enough? Are my videos as good as other teachers’ videos? How can I make my videos more entertaining? Are students engaged with my videos? Do students watch my videos all the way to the end?

Let’s be honest, most teachers are not comfortable publishing videos where they do not look or sound their very best. It’s so easy to get lost into the rabbit hole that is video editing. You might be thinking, “Maybe adding that background or that transition will be the difference that makes my next video that much better?” Or you might find yourself on the 17th take of your recording because you keep messing up the delivery of your opening sentence. Your simple two-minute video has now turned into a four-hour project.

Trying to create the “best videos” possible for our students can easily turn into trying to create the “most entertaining videos” possible for our students. After all, we have to keep our kids engaged, right?

You know what? It really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if your video is perfect. It doesn’t matter if your video contains mistakes. It doesn’t matter if your video is boring. Teachers are now forced to compete in one of the most highly competitive markets of our time, videos on social media. This is a battle we cannot win. After all, it's not your instructional video that's the most important, it's the student learning experience after the video that's most important.


“Edutainment” is the idea of combining entertainment and education. The term may have been used as early as 1954 by Walt Disney. I'm all for sprinkling in some entertainment to help make learning fun, however I feel many teachers are feeling the need to be full-on “edutainers” in a remote learning setting. Feeling like they need to entertain their students online to keep student engagement high. Feeling like they need to compete with the other media that their students are consuming outside the classroom. My stance is for educators to focus on the education part. Don’t worry about trying to entertain kids online as well.

The learning process is often the opposite of the instant gratification provided by popular media outlets like TikTok or YouTube. Our students visit these online video platforms and are instantly entertained in minutes, or even seconds. That’s not how learning works. Learning takes time. Learning isn’t always fun. Learning can be hard and frustrating. Learning can be a slow, challenging process. We don't want to condition our students that learning is always enjoyable, easy, and fun. Part of our job as educators is to provide students with the understanding that learning isn't always a walk in the park, but it is worth it to persevere through the challenging times. Let’s let the entertainers focus on getting millions views and likes and let educators focus on creating that meaningful and relevant student experience.


Remote learning has teachers competing with the most popular social media stars in the world. Teachers don’t stand a chance putting their videos up against this level of competition. How often do you hear parents telling their kids to put their phone down and stop binge watching those direct instruction educational videos? Now, compare that to how many school age kids you see completely captivated by consuming as many TikTok or YouTube videos as possible on their device. The videos teachers make are simply not going to compete with the most popular social media videos. It’s not going to happen. Here’s a video from the YouTube channel Dude Perfect, which has over 51 million subscribers at the time of this writing.

Ask yourself, “If I was a kid, which video would I rather watch? The Dude Perfect guys doing bottle flips, or my teacher's new video on double digit subtraction strategies?” That's OK. Dude Perfect is in the business of getting million of views to entertain. Teachers are in the business of getting a small number of views to educate.

Here’s one of the most popular TikTok stars, Charli D’Amelio. She is a 16 year-old that currently has over 55 million followers. This video is only 7 seconds long and it was viewed over 9 million times in the first 12 hours after it was posted.

@charlidamelio @heididamelio @marcdamelio
♬ original sound - _samantha.nicole_

I don’t want to start a debate on how meaningful or how important these videos are to our society or the greater good. It doesn’t matter. This is what our students are watching, this is where they are at.  I’m simply pointing out two things, 1 - teachers cannot compete for views or likes with social media stars, 2 - it's not the teacher's first priority to entertain, so don't spend half your day trying to make the perfect video.


We know that for our students to create, they also need to consume. I’m asking teachers to think about how much of their lesson planning time is spent on student consumption and how much of their lesson planning time is spent on student creation. Don’t worry about spending countless hours making those videos perfect for your students (consumption). Keep creating your instructional videos, just go with the theme that your videos are “good enough”.

Although recorded videos are only only part of your student’s learning experience, making these videos might be taking up the majority of your time spent on lesson planning. Don’t obsess on the student experience from the consumption side. Make a quick video. Provide a few additional resources and move on. Spend the majority of your lesson planning time on designing the student experience from the creation side. Design creative options for students to demonstrate their understanding. Find ways to provide student voice and choice in the work that they submit.


One thing we can do to enrich the student experience is to provide more student voice and choice to our lessons. I thought about creating a list of guiding questions to help you plan & include student voice & choice in your lessons, however I’m sure John Spencer does a far better job than I could with his “4 Ways to Craft Choice Menus in Distance Learning Classes”. Please note that Spencer states, “... too much choice can be a problem. Students can feel overwhelmed when things are too loose. Children need expectations, which is why agency and compliance still have a place.”

Another way to use student choice & voice is to make the shift from engaging students to empowering students. As John Spencer explains in this video, “It’s a shift from making the subject interesting, to tapping into student interests.”

So, that’s my take. What are your thoughts? How can teachers design their remote lessons to focus on creative or relevant options for students to demonstrate their understanding? Or, perhaps you disagree with this entire blog post, That's OK too. Leave a comment below.