By Jodie Torrington - Year 3 teacher and Stage 2 coordinator at Broughton Anglican College in Menangle Park.
Teaching in today’s mainstream classroom is a challenging task considering the myriad of academic and behavioural challenges that are present. Teachers are expected to successfully grow and nurture each student, which can seem like an impossible expectation when faced with a large class filled with varying needs and limited teacher-aide support.
When a 1:1 iPad program was introduced in my Year 3 class in 2016, I was inspired by the Masters study I was undertaking to fully utilise this ICT tool in the classroom. I had a very challenging class of 30 with an extreme range of both learning and behavioural needs, and I needed to find a way to engage every student effectively.
After much experimentation, I believe I have developed a successful, effective method to differentiate in a mainstream classroom, using the iPad as a tool to facilitate the delivery of specifically made instructional videos for both individuals and groups. Using the iPad in this way excites and engages students and has meant that all students are catered for in my classroom and are able to learn successfully.
What is video-based instruction?
Video-based instruction, in the context I use in my classroom, refers to the creation of videos that a teacher makes outside of class contact hours that specifically teach a concept or content. It differs from flipped or blended learning in that the video is viewed in the classroom during the lesson time, rather than at home. This means that the teacher is in control of the exact content to be presented in the videos, and different videos can be made at various levels, catering precisely to student needs. It also changes the teacher’s role to that of facilitator or coach, able to roam around the classroom overseeing the various videos being used as students complete their work. Over the past 18 months, students have responded positively to the fact that it is my voice they hear on the videos and this promotes continuity moving from a traditional lesson to an ICT facilitated one. I can keep videos personal and relevant to my learners, including jokes or anecdotes, in the style that my students are accustomed to.
What does the research say about video-based learning?
There is limited research on using video-based instruction (VBI) to teach content in the regular classroom, however general advantages of VBI such as an individual learning focus, the ability for students to work at their own pace, increased engagement, more focused behaviour of students and the ease of creating videos using mobile technologies, have been identified. (Friel, 2000; Kuiper et. al, 2015; Pei-Lin, 2014; Plavnick et. al, 2013). Using VBI as a pedagogical approach can have limitations in terms of the ICT accessibility, competence and time required by teachers to successfully record, edit and upload videos for students. It is also a one-sided communication method, which could be potentially limiting if used as the sole method to teach a KLA such as Mathematics (Goos, 2013; Kellinger, 2012; Pei-Lin, 2014). Recent research in mathematical pedagogy however, advocates using technology in an integrated manner, including as a teaching method to impart content (Atweh & Goos, 2011; Goos, 2013).
Teacher-made or custom-made videos allow specifically chosen content to be presented to individuals or groups of students as needed, they also ensure the teacher is both planning and delivering appropriate content for the range of needs found in a classroom. This pedagogical method fits suitably within the broad NSW syllabus requirements that ‘teachers require flexibility to develop programs, structures and pedagogical practices that meet the educational needs of their students.’ (“NSW Syllabus: Differentiated programming”, 2016). NSW teachers are therefore able to justify the use of 1:1 devices to cater for the diverse needs in a classroom and develop pedagogy that enables this, including VBI. Rayner, Denholm and Sigafoos (2009) found that
Implementing video-based instruction offers many advantages, such as increased student independence and decreased reliance on adult assistance, consistent instruction for students, and minimal training for adults who assist with video-based instruction.
Although Rayner et. al were advocating the use of VBI for autistic students, the notions of increased self-management as well as consistent instruction can be equally applied in the regular classroom, especially in mathematics. Students of all abilities can be presented with appropriate content to view and practice, accessed through their 1:1 device. In an integrated classroom, particularly with often limited additional human resources (Plavnick et. al, 2013), utilising VBI to provide differentiated content for mathematics ensures the range of learning abilities within the classroom is accommodated in an efficient and effective way.
Using video-based instruction allows students to have autonomy over their learning as they are able to pause, re-watch or review until mastery of the content is achieved. Kuiper, Carver, Posner and Everson (2015) identified that this approach means that students ‘can dramatically impact the pace of the course’ (p256) as it enables learners to proceed at their own rate. This has enormous implications for special needs students, who can view the video as many times as needed to ensure success (Plavnick, Sam, Hume, Odom; 2013). Conversely, gifted students are not restricted as to the pace of their learning.
In his study about videoing university lectures, Chandra (2007) expressed the benefits of students being able to review recorded presentations. He acknowledged factors such as tiredness of students and students needing more time to revisit complicated concepts, which justified the use of VBI and concluded ‘We believe that the effort (of recording lectures) is well worth our time.’ p280
Odhabi and Nicks-McCaleb (2009) drew the same positive conclusion in their similar study, especially regarding self-paced learning due to VBI.
… allows students to replay the video as many times as they need in order to understand its contents. (p 328)
In a primary school classroom, self-paced learning using VBI encourages independence and the ability to take the time needed for mastery of the content presented.
VBI has been a common pedagogical method used in special education to deliver instruction (Pei-Lin et. al, 2014). Plavnick et. al (2013) states that students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are more likely to be engaged by the use of modern technology and therefore more likely to achieve success through VBI now that videos can be watched on mobile devices, rather than through traditional video cassette recorders (VCRs). They specifically identified a major benefit of VBI, through the use of a 1:1 device, as ‘removing excess stimuli’ for an ASD student, enabling them to remain focused on the video and not distracted by anyone or anything else. Their study documented significant improvements achieved in the acquisition of skills presented through their videos by ASD students.
How difficult is it to make your own instructional videos?
The improvement in technologies, both in program usability and affordances of devices, is making video recording, editing and sharing easier than ever before. Numerous technologies enable video making and there are many ways of sharing the video for students to use.
Video technology is increasingly available, and most computers now come with simple editing software. Flip cameras, cameras in laptops, family videos cameras, and cell phones can all be used to create digital files, which can be converted to a common file type and shared. A number of online video depositories now enable commenting on video. (Heintz et. al, 2010)
Pei-Lin et. al (2014) highlights that devices such as the iPad serve as an ‘all-in-one’ ICT that teachers can use to film, edit and watch videos, keeping the process simple and achievable. Odhabi et. al (2009) confirm the relative ease of video making and emphasize that the accessibility of quality internet has also contributed to the development of VBI as a viable pedagogical method. As outlined by the government Digital Education Revolution policy (2008), all Australian schools are entitled to quality Internet access, therefore having the ability to upload, share and view videos on multiple devices meets this requirement. In 2016, video making and sharing is not an overly complicated process.
How do you use video-based instruction in your classroom?
I use the interactive whiteboard app ‘ShowMe’ (iOS device) to make videos to teach number concepts each week, as part of the mathematics program. Generally, I make three videos for each lesson – core, extension and remediation, covering the concept to be explored. I upload the videos to my class Edmodo platform, into specific group folders. The students are then able to access the video relevant for them. The videos are one component of my mathematics program; hands-on experiences and oral discussions of mathematical concepts in class and group situations are also daily features.
After noting the success of this instructional approach, I also make videos for differentiated group activities, such as English ‘Goal Time’ where students are working towards improving specific skills such as handwriting, spelling, editing or creative writing techniques.
What has been the impact in the classroom since incorporating video-based instruction?
Interestingly, I have witnessed the advantages outlined in the above research. Students are excited and engaged to use the iPad and headphones and are always keen to log on to the video to start their work. I was impressed by this last year, after being exhausted by the constant unruly behaviour exhibited by numerous students. They were so engaged by the ICT device, they actually completed work with no disruption to the remainder of the class. All students were focused on the video, and I could easily see where each student was up to. Additionally, the room was silent during this time, which had been virtually impossible to achieve. This allowed the other students to complete their work without distraction, something all students commented appreciatively on when surveyed on the use of video-based instruction.
Another huge impact has been that there is no ‘wait’ time for various groups. Students know where and how to find their specific video and are able to start their work immediately, rather than wait for the teacher to give them instructions or clarifications about their task.
I feel that this pedagogy allows me to effectively ‘split’ myself, so that I am actually teaching 3 or 4 groups simultaneously. I see my extension students excited as they can move at a fast pace and be specifically guided at all times. The self-paced nature of the pedagogy ensures that all students can explore the content at their own rate, and have the control to re-watch or review when necessary to ensure mastery.
I have been mindful to create videos that require interaction from students, so that they are actively viewing the videos while completing tasks.
I have noticed a positive impact with outcome results in mathematics. I believe the increased focus due to the headphones has aided the academic results.
Another benefit of this pedagogy is that I am able to plan and deliver comprehensive lessons that are exempt from the inevitable interruptions experienced in a primary classroom. Regardless of announcements, messengers, behavioural incidents or illness, ‘I’ am not interrupted as the videos are already made.
The implementation of 1:1 devices in the classroom facilitates an innovative modification of traditional video learning. Research of teacher-created video-based learning in the regular classroom is limited, however special education studies show:
- that VBI reduces distractions for the student,
- engages them through the use of technology,
- allows mastery of skills through self-paced learning and
- is a simple, effective method of instruction.
The links to VBI in the mainstream classroom as a pedagogical method are common sense. Teacher-created videos ensures content is differentiated as needed, engaging for students both academically and behaviourally through the use of a 1:1 device and self-paced activities, offering students autonomy and self-control of learning. In the integrated, mixed-ability and behaviourally challenging classrooms of today, VBI offers an exciting pedagogical option for teaching and learning that encourages success for all students.
Atweh, B., & Goos, M. 2011, The Australian mathematics curriculum: a move forward or back to the future? Australian Journal of Education, vol. 55, no. 3, p. 214+.
Chandra, S. 2007, ‘Lecture video capture for the masses, Proceedings of ITiCSE’07, June 23–27, pp. 276–280, ACM, Dundee, Scotland, UK.
Friel, S.N., & Carboni, L. W. 2000, Using Video-Based Pedagogy in an Elementary Mathematics Methods Course, School Science and Mathematics, vol. 100, no. 3, p. 118.
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How to cite this article
Torrington, J. 2018, 'Video-based instruction – using 1:1 devices for effective differentiation in the classroom', Scan, 37(1)