Tips for using videos to enhance college teaching and learning

by Kelly Flowers-Rose
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Kelly Flowers-Rose

Kelly Flowers-Rose

Undergraduate students have an attention span on average of 20 minutes. Therefore, college instructors need to be able to engage these students by interspersing different teaching techniques. These can include, but are not limited to, class discussion, small group work, written assignments or use of videos. By using videos in higher education classes an instructor can

  • Reinforce reading and lecture material
  • Aid in the development of a common base of knowledge among students
  • Enhance student comprehension and discussion
  • Provide greater accommodation of diverse learning styles
  • Increase student motivation and enthusiasm
  • Promote teacher effectiveness

The rules governing use of video materials for face-to-face teaching provide more flexibility concerning copying, displaying, and distributing copyrighted materials in the classroom  —

You may show a video in your class without obtaining permission by conducting a fair use evaluation. A quick evaluation to determine if videos you would use in your classroom should meet ALL the following requirements:

  • The video is being used for instructional purposes
  • The class is face-to-face teaching — not over the Internet
  • The class is being held at a non-profit educational institution

Three main types of videos are used in higher education:

1.     Primary Source Material– These video clips should be limited to three minutes so not to lose people’s attention. The footage comes from real life media coverage, such as a Civil Right Protest, 9/11, JFK assassination, etc.

2.     Dramatic Videos – These videos accurately depicts or reenacts a historical situation. Examples of these clips include scenes from the The Patriot, Glory, Braveheart, etc.

3.     Historical Concept – Clips that relate a situation in a recent TV episode or movie to an historical concept or event. Such as South Park and its episode on the Confederacy Momentum. These clips are usually at least two minutes and require additional explanation. Typically, the response of showing these videos is very enthusiastic.

Once you have determined the video that you will use make sure you follow these helpful steps:

  • Discuss the clip before showing it to help the students understand your purpose for showing the video and providing them viewing guidelines.
  • Play the clip. Typically clips of no more than two to three minutes are most effective. Various software programs (including PowerPoint) can enable you to edit a clip.
  • Comment on the “Meaning of the Selection”
  • This gives the instructor and the students the opportunity to ask questions
  • Reinforces the classes understanding
  • Students become more comfortable speaking

For more information on using videos in you classroom check out the following websites

Kelly Flowers-Rose  is a doctoral student in the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida and a student in Mass Communication Teaching (MMC 6930).



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