Learning with videos can be fascinating or frustrating depending on the video. So, what makes a good educational video? My husband and I talked about that last night for 30 minutes! For an educational video to be used in my homeschool it has to be accurate, timely, engaging, and effective. Whether you are using an video course to teach chemistry or using a video series to supplement history, videos that don’t meet these four criteria will hurt more then they help. Let’s break each of those down.
What makes a great educational video?
Accurate. If I choose a video to teach world history in the early 1900’s and they spend 15-20 minutes of the 45 talking about women’s rights… I am probably not going to use a video in that series again. Videos should teach what they claim to teach. Videos should not say that water expands as it freezes unless water does actually expand. If I find a video science course presenting evolution as fact, you can be sure that video course is not getting shown in my home. Children remember information viewed in videos extremely well, especially if they are watched repeatedly. Educational videos need to be accurate.
Timely. We don’t watch many videos in our homeschool, so when we do it needs to cover information related to what we are currently studying in our books. If I have a great video on World War II, (and I do!) it is going to be much more effective as an educational tool if I save it and watch it with the children when we are actually studying World War II.
Engaging. Videos can be full of great accurate information and yet be dry, boring and difficult to watch. A great video is going to be engaging. If your child would rather be doing something else, this video is probably not going to teach them anything. One way to make all videos more engaging is to not watch videos or television very often.
Effective. You might think that a video which is accurate, timely and engaging will automatically be effective. However, videos might present too little or too much information and be completely ineffective at teaching any of the material. Other videos might feature really engaging people and information with a poorly written script that does not communicate. The most effective video courses we own are the two that pull together audio, visual, and kinesthetic learning. Our math curriculum is video based, and after watching and listening to the teacher presentation the children take blocks and do a few problems with their blocks. They follow up what they saw and heard with touching and doing. (Math-U-See) This is very effective. Our art curriculum is also video based, and as the students watch the teacher present the lesson, they paint or draw or color along with her and she walks us through each step. Again, they hear and see and do all at the same time. The art projects they produce with this program are amazing! (Ateleir Arts Attack). Another fantastic video series that incorporates kinesthetic learning is the Amazing Science video I reviewed last month. This video is truly amazing because it makes my kids want to do science experiments! This is hands-on learning at its finest, and we would not ever do those experiments without the video. On the other hand, an ineffective educational video is a pointless waste of time. Knowing whether or not a video is effective before you have seen it is a bit tricky isn’t it?
How to find great educational videos.
Ask the librarian. She will be able to tell you which series are most popular, which series have a good reputation with educators or homeschoolers, and may even have specific information about the videos that will help guide your decision.
Read blog reviews. Find a blogger who reviews educational dvds :) and has a similar POV as you (point-of-view). If your favorite blogger hasn’t reviewed a series on her blog yet, you can always ask through twitter, facebook or private messages. Bloggers love to blog about what readers want to read. Here are a few dvd reviews I have done recently.
Talk to like-minded people. Ask your friends, neighbors, Sunday School teachers and homeschool coop members which educational videos they are watching with their kids.
Check websites you trust. Whenever I am looking for new material, I have a few website stores I trust. I visit these websites and find out what material they have featured. So if I am looking for videos, I might check Timberdoodle, or Library and Educational Services.
Great reasons to use videos for homeschooling
You may not be qualified to teach a subject that your child is interested in. For instance, I am not qualified to teach Homeschool Programming. I don’t have the time to study the subject and learn it. I am very likely to “hire” a video course to teach this subject. Sometimes that video course is a physical product and sometimes the video course is viewed on-line. Either way, someone else is teaching your child the material.
You do not have time to cover extra material effectively. Homeschool moms have a great deal on their plate. It’s a fact. Sometimes using a video to teach a certain subject is an effective way to deal with the issue of time.
Your child enjoys video supplements. Many homeschool children would rather read a good book then watch an educational video. Some children cannot read but have a very high retention of audio. My daughter cannot read well enough to study history on her own, but will remember almost anything she hears and even more so if she sees and hears it on television. Videos are a great way for her to learn material.
Educational videos and video courses can be a great addition to your homeschool. As with any technology, videos do have their drawbacks. In our home we do try to limit our screen time. This makes it doubly important to choose well.