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Instructional Videos—Good for Your Students; Good for Your School Marketing

Instructional video as VHS

I couldn’t completely grasp my grandmother’s knitting rhythm, but I enjoyed the result: a warm, colorful blanket. I tried to learn how to knit and crochet a few times. My early attempts ended in frustration. Decades later, I finally learned; to the chagrin of my nostalgic side however, I didn’t learn it from her. I learned from an instructional video on YouTube.

As hard as it may be to admit, there are instances in life when the recorded you might just be better than the real you. Thanks to YouTube and other video-sharing apps, an experienced mechanic makes a short video in which he demonstrates a car repair. A dog trainer shares a video where she talks about tips with pet owners. Willing magicians share their tricks. Seasoned educators explain key concepts and skills, and students can watch them—over and over if needed.

These recorded moments are not limited by time and space. They can be viewed anytime, anywhere. And they are. Video sharing sites such as YouTube are high-traffic websites. YouTube is easily considered the second most visited and most popular site in the world.

grandma knitting

In a previous blog, we listed videos as a worthwhile feature of teacher websites. We also looked at how to create videos without breaking the bank

In this blog, we’ll look at the following four key benefits of using instructional videos to reach your students and their families and explain how they can translate to your school marketing:

  • Knowledge retention
  • Mastery
  • Accessibility
  • Evaluability

How Instructional Videos Benefit Your Students & Their Families 

As you use your school’s instructional videos, the bottom line is, you’re going to increase your public relations. Your students will learn better, and you’ll connect school-to-home learning, resulting in healthy connections and more effective parent engagement. 

Let’s look at the key benefits mentioned above. 

1. Videos promote knowledge retention.

female student thinking

Videos enhance knowledge retention via a microlearning approach, covering complicated material and skill application in an effective way. Videos provide students with unlimited access to instruction. Video instruction allows students to fill in gaps and better master concepts. 

From an educational standpoint, using videos in the school just makes sense.

For example, brief videos that demonstrate key concepts give your students a better chance to take in information at their own pace rather than become overwhelmed by the amount of information. The Cognitive Load Theory suggests the value of smaller doses of information sharing. The theory is based on accepted theories about our brains and the way we process and store information. 

Here are some interesting key points from this theory:

  • Human memory can be divided into long-term memory and working memory.
  • Information in long-term memory is stored in the form of schemas.
  • Learning outcomes can be affected when processing new information, resulting in “cognitive load” on working memory.
  • Cognitive Load Theory suggests that due to limited short-term memory, learning experiences ought to be designed to promote schema acquisition by reducing working memory “load.”
  • If teachers are aware of the means by which they teach, not just about what is being taught (content vs. procedural learning) the learning sequence (what is it, how it works, how to use it) and the nature of it (design thinking through definitions and knowledge versus domain-specific knowledge), they are more fit to recognize the less than optimal scenario for students who, according to the theory, are facing extra challenges in their brain. 

As Terry Heick from TeachThought puts it, “We want students to grapple with complexity, but that’s very different than defying neurology.” The goal is not just to share information but rather to encourage knowledge retention, committing concepts and applications to long-term memory.

2. Videos encourage mastery.

student raising her hand

When one of your students is absent, they miss the opportunity to see concepts and principles explained, demonstrated, and applied. Upon that student’s return to class, videos can pick up where worksheets leave off, helping to bridge the information gap the absence might create. Or, when the class as a whole tests poorly on certain key concepts, teachers can use videos to help students and their families better master subjects.

When teachers record brief instructional videos to explain and demonstrate an important concept, students can revisit information they missed due to an absence or when they didn’t entirely understand it on the first pass. 

Videos promote mastery, helping teachers teach. At the same time, videos help save your teachers’ valuable time in the long run. 

3. Videos offer accessibility. 

student working on homework late

Would I rather have learned to knit from my grandmother? Of course. Yet, the instructional video had a lot of something my grandmother did not: time. When the season was right for me to learn, my grandmother was gone. As I began to master the skill, I could review the process anytime, anywhere—even on a long road trip in remote Alaska.

When using instructional videos in varied ways at your school, consider its impact today and tomorrow. Videos support your teachers’ efforts today and beyond. 

Using videos as part of a teacher’s “re-teaching” plan can save the teacher time and energy, especially if making instructional videos at your school is a team effort. The gift of knowledge is available time and time again, and the gap to understanding concepts can be more effectively overcome.

4. Videos offer opportunities to evaluate.

teacher teaching

When educators at your school use videos to capture, demonstrate, and share instruction, it creates an opportunity for self-check and self-mastery. How successfully does the teacher teach the topic? How effectively does he/she demonstrate and apply key concepts? And as videos allow educators to decide what to share and how to share it, we discover another valuable result: improved teaching. 

Maybe someday my grandchildren will watch my old hands move rhythmically as I knit or crochet. They may choose to sit beside me to try to figure out the movements and duplicate them on their own. If they get frustrated, I wonder if someone will be able to direct them to my YouTube channel. Then maybe they can say they learned, even if years later, from their grandmother instead of from a stranger. What will your students say? 

How Instructional Videos Benefit Your School Marketing Efforts 

According to Jim Leedy, Director of Business Development at School Webmasters, videos will soon be everywhere and will be the only content that will be consumed. “Content without videos is going to be ignored,” Jim says.

Videos are accessible from all devices such as computers, laptops, smartphones, etc. These days, there are plenty of authoring tools and learning management systems to use. 

Still not sure if instructive videos have a place on your school’s full plate? Consider how these videos will affect your school marketing and public relations efforts. In fact, we can look at the same benefits instructional videos have for your students and families and apply them to your school marketing and public relations.

  • Knowledge Retention
    According to Forbes.com, the three most effective types of video content are 

  • Customer testimonials (51%)
  • Tutorial videos (50%)
  • Demonstration videos (49%)

  • When your school incorporates a tool, like instructional videos, which increases knowledge retention for its students, understanding increases and test scores improve. Grades improve. Students succeed. Student success is not only good for strengthening your school’s reputation, it also strengthens your school band and improves your ability to market the success of your curriculum and programs. 

  • Mastery
    As your school fosters mastery by allowing for individual students to better understand key concepts and principles, they overcome challenges created by absences or misunderstanding. A 2018 study showed video outranks printed books when it comes to student learning. One student said, “When I'm doing my homework, I'll look up how to solve a problem on YouTube.I like it because it's really easy to follow. I can pause it, or I can rewind it if I have a question.”

    Does your school mission, vision, or values attest to valuing the success of every student? What better way to show this dedication than by implementing practices that enable student success? Again, this strengthens both your school branding and your home-school relationships. 

  • Accessibility
    When your school offers information in an attractive, desirable, and maybe even fun format such as instructional videos, your students’ families are more informed. Families who are informed are more able to support their students and their education. When families can offer informed support at home, students succeed.

    And consider the possible reach of these videos. If students searching for videos to help them with their homework find teachers from your school offering assistance, your school brand recognition is strengthened. If you’re a public school trying to compete with local charter and private schools, demonstrating the caliber of your teachers through instructional videos is a great way to market your school.

  • Evaluability
    When schools take time to create instructional videos, they open the school doors wide for their school community to get a glimpse of the heart that drives their school. Schools who share, connect. When schools connect with their school community, support is built. When support increases, success follows. School community successes are good for your school public relations.

From a school marketing standpoint, using videos just makes sense.

Not Sure Where to Start?

First, you’ll need to choose some topics. We recommend asking teachers and staff at your school what they wish the school community understood more fully. From there, ask your students and parents where they need the most help. You’ll have a quality list of topics in no time! 

Next, you’ll need to film and edit those instructional videos. There’s no need to invest in expensive equipment or software. Simple instructional videos can be filmed with a smartphone or webcam and edited with iMovies or Windows movie maker. 

Finally, your videos will need an online home. Here at School Webmasters, we are using, Vimeo to embed all of our school videos. It is in HTML5, so it’s responsive in the page and it doesn't have any ads. There are schools who opt for using Youtube, which works fine and has the convenient feature of adding the necessary closed captioning to keep your videos ADA compliant. Another option is SchoolTube, which has some nice features and doesn't add any other content that you don't want to show. So those schools who block YouTube because of the inappropriate content it delivers, which you cannot filter out, consider SchoolTube. They are adding new features all the time and we're very impressed with what they now have to offer, so check them out!

If your school does choose to go with YouTube, we recommend adjusting your settings so the video does not autoplay on your school website. That’s not ADA compliant, and website visitors don’t appreciate it, especially if it’s not clear where the sound is coming from when they first land on your page. 

Would your school community collectively benefit from sharing what is great about your school right now? Capturing the spirit and soul of your school community is at the heart of telling your school’s story on a regular basis. Instructive videos could assist your school in its quest to connect your teachers to students and their families and strengthen your school PR and marketing.