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Student Video Creation: 5 ways to ensure it aligns with district-tier goals

/ Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad

While much is made of the value of video creation in the classroom, school and district administrators are concerned about bigger, broader, clearly demonstrable results that reach across their entire student body. Additionally, it’s important to highlight the level of rigor, thinking, and multi-dimensional learning that occurs through the video creation process. Dr. Nathan Lang, WeVideo’s chief education officer, had these thoughts in mind when he addressed the crowd at FETC 2018. Here we present some of the important questions he challenged the audience to consider, as well as his thoughts on the answers:
1. How does student video creation help to make thinking visible (or what’s going on inside your students’ minds)?
One of the limitations to traditional “pen-and-paper” submissions or didactic Q&A evaluations is that, by nature, they put the educator first in the process as leader. The student knows inherently that their teacher is looking for something specific.
Video creation generally puts the student first in the process, and thus the work bears less varnish or narrow intent. The onus is on the student to demonstrate their understanding of a concept or particular level of thinking.
Additionally, there is an increased level of comfort when the student is given the opportunity to articulate their thinking via video creation. The very decision-making process in video creation—from script and visual assets to pacing and other editorial decisions—gives the student a broad palette with which to convey their thoughts. They get to choose what they will showcase and determine their own process.
This voice and choice provides a bigger window into a student’s thinking and the student is more willing and comfortable with opening that window.
2. How does student video creation lead to deeper inquiry?
The reason why video creation is effective is that it transcends the classroom and applies to aspects of everyday life for students. The video creation process inherently prompts students to generate new questions; not questions that the teacher asked, but ones intrinsically crafted by the student to help solve a challenge or dig deeper into a concept.
While written and other forms of expression can offer the possibility of tapping into outside resources and internal dialogue, video creation inspires, and even requires, the seeking out of material and provides a frictionless paradigm through which to make and present connections. There is tangible incentive for the student to research, identify, and connect material in meaningful ways. Video creation provides opportunities for student voice and choice in regards to resources and content. These are the very definitions of higher level thinking and positive learning experiences.
3. How can you use student video creation for assessment?
In my own life, I’m editing a book right now. For me, even though it’s my work, the one-dimensional process of editing can be banal, mundane, and sometimes painful. Video creation opens the door to organically embracing the revision process without students feeling the drudgery of revising. There is an element of gratification that makes the video process more welcoming.
Creating a video has a different appeal and “cool” factor, and we know “cool” leads to engagement, which all educators and students need and want! Video creation gives students an outlet for creation, the output of which the student can feel both proud and invested. They are genuinely motivated to revise their work and the results are instantly rewarding.
There is also a personal aspect to video creation that is significant to understanding the individual student. Not only can reviewing student videos inform and guide the teacher’s next steps, it can help students see for themselves how their own ideas integrate, compare and contrast with those of their peers. They are able to see how other students may share the same view or level of thinking. The safer students are in sharing those ideas, the more visible they will make their thinking.
4. How can you make your instructional strategies stronger by using student video creation?
The first of Marzano’s instructional strategies is Identifying similarities and differences. Videos aren’t just products of a project, but can be a vehicle for learning. Marzano’s concepts are manifested in the video creation process. For example, when students build a video timeline or story, they are classifying new information and assimilating new ideas. They must constantly assess, evaluate, differentiate and then demonstrate the conclusion via the editorial choices they make. The timeline developed during video creation is a schema to organize and present those determinations as visible/audible objects.
5. How can student video creation broaden the perspective of the conversation with authentic audiences from around the world?
Video creation gives students an accessible platform through which they have new opportunities to speak out, to be heard, and to share their worldview in a courageous, compelling ways. The act of sharing a video project builds confidence. The student creator commits to a viewpoint and a story to tell, and video creation becomes a vehicle for fully realizing and sharing that perspective.
Telling stories helps a student explore different avenues and possibilities, evaluating choices, concepts and ideas as they weave a coherent narrative. It is an opportunity to share unique perspectives with the world, but also a medium through which one can hear others’ perspectives in context and make decisions to change one’s own mind. By creating and publishing videos, students are projecting their voice to the world, while being encouraged to listen as well.
To illustrate these ideas of sharing stories, broadening perspectives and promoting student confidence, WeVideo compiled a collection of student video work created with WeVideo: 

Follow Dr. Lang @nalang1 for more insight and thoughts.