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Why video creation is such a powerful assessment tool

/ Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad

Focused student

I was going through some old emails one day and came upon a grad school assignment I sent to my professor a few years ago. The task was to create a video reflection on a leadership project I had been a part of. I created the video and sent it to my professor and also saved it to my YouTube channel. When I rediscovered the video years later, I was not only astonished at how much my accent and vocabulary changed but also how much my thinking changed. It was a particular concept around leadership I was discussing in the video, and at that moment, I was able to see how my thinking changed over some time. It caused me to wonder, “what led to my shift in thinking?” and “how long did it take to shift my thinking?” 

It was a pleasant assessment of my shift in thinking and all in thanks to a video I created. student and teacher

When thinking about the true purpose of an assessment, it’s really to illuminate where you were and where you are now. Because of accountability and the continuing push for standardized testing, this perspective of assessments is often concealed.

Therefore, how can we best see how our perspective and thinking has evolved. A traditional assessment may capture the current level of knowledge retention, but that doesn’t tell us anything about our thinking. Our thinking changes (and we grow and learn) over time and so the question becomes, how do we best illuminate this progression of thinking and learning? 

Video reflection is a powerful tool that is not only changing the landscape of creativity and student engagement in the classroom, it’s changing how we measure learning. When videos are created to illuminate  students’ thinking, students are engaged in metacognition, which means “thinking about thinking.” When engaged in metacognition through reflection students are focused on their current feelings and thoughts. By being mindful of their emotional state, for example, teachers and students can more effectively steer their feelings and thoughts in a more positive, "can-do" direction. As they realize the story of their learning they begin to synthesize how the chunks of new learning all connect. 

A great way to reflect on a journey is through video reflection journals, such as the one created in WeVideo. Video reflection journals may be new to you and/or your students but are easy to use in your classroom. An initial roadblock of video journaling is figuring out what to talk about. I find that if you have a conversation with your class and guide them through a couple of reflection questions, they will soon have lots of talking points.student looking at laptop

Here are a few prompts to help get the conversation started:

  • When were you on-track with this project? 
  • How did you know you were on-track?
  • During this project, when were you successful? What did that feel/look like?
  • When were you most engaged/focused on this project? What were you doing? How did that action affect the end result?

Assessing our thinking through video journals can be more effective than traditional journaling or assessments because the videos reveal emotions, tone, and visual representations. If done in a meaningful and thoughtful way it can help students become powerful idea generators and provide a platform for reflective thinking.