Last week I was inspired by a Twitter post put up by Joel Speranza (@JoelBSperanza-links to his stuff below). It was a simple gif that summarised research into how well students remembered a lesson based on how they were told their understandings would be tested (link below). Personally, I loved the format of this gif, making the major gleanings from a scientific study visible and quickly understandable for a set of very busy people: teachers.

 

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That aside, it got me thinking about when I had last used video as an option for my students to demonstrate their learning. Teaching only senior classes, I often feel like we don’t have time to ‘muddle around with technology’ so we don’t have time for students to actually put together a video. Not only is their own research time-consuming to do, but just teaching students to use the software can be frustrating too! I would know, a few years ago I got students to make vlogs using the audio record feature in powerpoint. It was absolutely arduous and really frustrating for myself and students. At the end, their feedback told me that they would have preferred if we’d just worked through the content together in class.

Technology can be seen by many as an inhibitor- ‘it takes too much time’, ‘it often doesn’t work and ruins a whole lesson’ and ‘I wouldn’t know how to use it myself’ are common reasons why teachers will avoid using a technology tool in their classroom. I understand this, I’ve tried many things that haven’t worked out and have felt like if I’d just skipped the technology part, then we’d have gotten to our aim a lot quicker!

The thing is though that how well we’re able to utilise technology in our classrooms relies on our willingness to experiment, reflect and refine what and how we use it. It means that we have to test out tools and see if they work; some just work better than others.

I digress, the point of this post is to discuss one that I think REALLY works. I honestly couldn’t give this tool higher praise as it is so incredibly intuitive and functional. I am talking, of course, about Abode Spark’s Video platform and app (see link below).

My students just started investigating a current issue for our unit of study on Analysing Argument. Our issue is the current debate on the Anti-Discrimination Laws (Section 18C for short) in Australia. I wanted students to show that they understood the key events, what was being debated and the key people involved and their position. Below are the instructions I gave them (yes, this is all I gave them!)

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With just this students were able to put together videos in pairs over 2 sessions of class time. Honestly, I was really impressed by how easy this app was to use. Students didn’t need any instructions (just to create their own Adobe log in if they didn’t have one) because the program has been simplified down so that even primary school aged children can use it. There are limited features, so it makes it easier for students to choose quickly- they don’t get bogged down in all the flashy features of this app, they just end up focusing on the video.

The results spoke for themselves. I got an opportunity to see in detail what my students did and didn’t know about the issue and they got to watch one another’s videos in order to better their own understanding too. Moreover, watching them was a lot of fun. Many students had been quite creative in their videos and when watching them we all laughed along at the quirky theme music or visuals they’d chosen. I would love to share their videos with you, but I can’t share that kind of content online, so will just post here (below) a video that I made as a promo for activities the Feminist Collective group I run at school were hosting at school. I didn’t record audio on to this, but my students did (easily) on theirs. I made this video in about 15 minutes.

So in short: I can do nothing but highly recommend Abode Spark Video as a great addition to your classroom tech toolkit. Let me know your thoughts too!

My promo video: https://spark.adobe.com/video/B1y6FRLP

Joel Speranza blog: http://joelsperanza.com/

Journal article: ‘Effects of creating video-based modeling examples on learning and transfer’ http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959475214000395

Spark Video Home Page: https://spark.adobe.com/about/video

 

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