In the current climate of school closures, I was recently asked to share my experience of teaching from home. My plan was to maintain a little bit of lesson routine and student interaction, rather than create a ‘how to’ video for each topic – as there are plenty of these videos around.
What I use when recording videos
I usually utilise a combination of the following:
- PowerPoint to display pre-prepared questions, and sometimes answers
- Visualiser to model methods and demonstrate solutions
- Screen sharing – e.g. to demonstrate maths graphing software, or similar
These are all uploaded to my school youtube account, via OBS.
Live vs. Recorded
When it was announced schools would close, I informed students of exactly when I would set them work (twice per week), to help them establish a routine. I originally planned to record videos, but the lack of ‘live feedback’ from students, not being able to respond to their questions and not knowing how well they were understanding my explanations, quickly prompted me to try livestreaming. The fact that we were already working towards a routine helped me here.
However, I did not want students to be in a position where ‘attendance’ of the video (live or recorded) was compulsory – I just hoped that it would ‘sell itself’ and students would choose to engage. The setup I opted for (i.e. hosting on youtube) allows students to revisit these videos at any time they choose.
Assessing students’ understanding
I was conscious from the outset that I did not want a two-way video. I did not want students to be further disadvantaged due to issues with technology, nor did I wish to see into their home environments. I do, however, make much use of the live (text) chat alongside the video in the following ways:
- It is an opportunity for me to assess students’ understanding
- Students will ask questions when they don’t understand something
- It is also an opportunity for students to ask general questions, as they would in the corridors of school
I need to be mindful that (in this format) I am only responding to the students who are ‘present’ at the time – which is typically those who are more diligent. For this reason, and in line with the rest of the Department, it remains the case that the Hegarty tasks (for Yrs 7-10 and equivalent for Yr 12) are the only compulsory tasks for all students – as I can see clearly what students have done (and understand), and can feedback through these platforms.
Alongside this, I have given all of my students a weekly questionnaire. They know that recording videos is new to me, and I have welcomed their feedback – which has helped my own development.
I have also chosen to only record live videos for the classes who I feel would make the greatest use of this – Year 9 top set, and Year 12. I continue to record, and upload, videos for my other classes, but these are not live.
Pros and cons
The benefits that I have found are:
- Students definitely appreciate ‘live’ teaching – and the fact it is responsive (and reactive) to their needs.
- Students also appreciate the fact that these videos are available to view later and they do not need to attend live.
- Alongside the questionnaires that I have sent, Google Classroom and my responding to students’ questions/comments, I feel this has helped me to maintain some sort of relationship with many students – and will hopefully help when we eventually return to the classroom (whatever form that may take).
However, the drawbacks are:
- In the very beginning, I spent a lot of time (hours) setting up for one video. This did not remain the case – and I currently spend as much time planning as I would do normally.
- It probably took me about 4-5 videos to start producing something I was more comfortable with.
- I am quite happy using technology, but those less so may struggle – my advice would be to practise first, and it is possible to practise privately.
- My live videos seem to be ‘laggy’ and I have still not managed to resolve this. This is not an issue with the prerecorded videos.
- If students watch live, I do not know if they watch all of the video. I also do not know which students have viewed the videos at a later stage.
- It is highly likely that some students have not engaged with the videos. I am conscious that these students must not be disadvantaged further than necessary – hence I must be mindful about the content that is included.
I welcome comments, advice, or questions, on any of this.