How a Slow Motion Classroom Video Inspired This Educator

Tom Spall, Texas EducatorIn Texas, everything is big — even learning. The teaching method that is really connecting with students these days, according to Tom Spall, an Instructional Technology Specialist at Brenham Independent School District, is video. He quickly points out that classroom video brings an entirely new and engaging aspect to learning.

Spall could talk all day about science, projects, and kinetic energy in his classroom, but when he showed his students video of shooting rockets in slow motion, he realized the impact of video.

“It just adds to the explanation of that concept and makes it more impactful,” Spall said.

Spall started using video years ago and has never looked back.

“I embrace it in my classroom. We watch videos in science class, and those videos that you see on YouTube, et cetera, they bring learning alive for us,” Spall said.

Using Video in Flipped Classroom

Video is particularly catching on for teachers using the flipped classroom structure, which is more learner-centric. These teachers make videos to explain concepts that would normally use up class time, then have the students watch the videos online. Classroom time is then used to focus on practical applications and discussions.

“When I was using the flipped classroom method, it was great. I’d record my videos on Screencast-O-Matic. I could use small groups or stations. The kids would go learn the topic on a Chromebook, and then I’d be the next station in the rotation and they would come to me with previous knowledge. It is almost like having a second educator in the classroom,” he said.

The difference in learning between teachers who use video in the classroom and teachers who don’t is tangible, Spall noted, especially for those teaching English as a second language (ESL).

“I notice [that for] the teachers that embrace video in the classroom versus those that don’t, the students just have a leg up. We have a high ESL population. When the students from ESL classrooms can take a vocabulary word or concept and then they can see it in action, it makes the learning so much more impactful,” Spall said.

Using Video to Teach Educators

Besides increasing students’ focus and retention, video can also help educate the educators themselves, especially with all the technology options available in the education world.

Spall often needs to show a teacher a new technology or important information. Instead of sending an email or text message, he turns to video to show the teachers what they need to know.

“If we have a five- or 10-minute video, most teachers will not stay to watch the whole thing. But if we take a 15- or 30-second GIF of a process happening, teachers are more influenced by the animated GIFs we make than the longer videos,” he said.

That’s why Screencast-O-Matic’s video software tools are so great, he said. “You can quickly make a 15-second video and toss it up on social media.”

“If I know a teacher needs to know how to use a website, I’ll sit down, I’ll record my screen, maybe edit it a little bit, add my Twitter handle to my video, and then I’m done. Then I toss it up on Google Drive or YouTube and share it with that teacher.”

Taking Advantage of Screencast-O-Matic’s Robust Features

video editorSpall’s experience with Screencast-O-Matic has been so successful that last year his school made a deep financial investment to expand Screencast-O-Matic’s reach in its classrooms. The teachers turned to Screencast-O-Matic because they wanted something more robust than Screencastify.

“The teachers that utilize it make flipped classroom videos for their class, so if they are going to be absent or want the kids to see them teaching a lesson, they’ll use Screencast-O-Matic using their actual computers,” he said.

Spall has seen the exponential rise of video use in the classroom. He knew that half or more of his students were visual learners who would prefer to be shown something rather than read about it. So when he looked for a platform that not only offered screen recording but also online video editing, hosting, and posting to various channels, he made the leap to Screencast-O-Matic.

“I like it so much more. I think it’s easier to use. You can record so much more. I think it’s a lot easier to reshape and resize, and your editing options are tremendous,” he said.

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