Video Production as a teaching tool

Teachers have used video as an educational tool in the classroom since the invention of the medium itself, and the pedagogical advantages are very well-known and understood. Video provides teachers with a means of engaging and even entertaining students about a certain topic. It can also succinctly explain complex topics, stimulate classroom debate, and facilitate critical thinking and problem solving.

However, the idea that students could create and produce their own video content in the classroom – outside of an actual film studies course – is a relatively new concept, yet it has many benefits to both students and teachers. During our five years (and counting) of working with students on the Tales project, we noticed that these benefits – although sometimes surprising and unexpected – come up time and time again. Here are just 5 examples:

#1 Video production bolsters students’ understanding of the subject matter and theoretical backgrounds, and so before beginning to produce a video on a certain topic, the students must first comprehensively research and fully understand their chosen topic. As we have discovered throughout this project, the prospect of writing a video script provides students with extra motivation in the research phase.

#2 Every student can have a role in a video production. When students work together in groups, it happens all too often that some members are ‘drivers’ and other members are ‘passengers’. This can occur for a number of reasons, but one of the most common is that ‘passengers’ cannot find a role in the group that suits their skills. However, in a video production, there are enough different roles to suit any student’s skill-set – from ideating to researching to writing to acting to camera operating to editing.

Analytics from YouTube showing the top 10 countries where Tales videos are viewed.

#3 Students embrace the creative challenge that a video production provides. Every semester, without fail, we are impressed by the incredibly high level of creativity and innovation our students demonstrate when they produce their videos. From how they develop their characters, to how they film certain scenes, to how cut their story together in the edit suite; year after year students rise to the challenge we set for them.

#4 Students can develop increasingly-important skills. Filming and editing used to be a highly-specialised skill, reserved for professionals in the film and television industry only. Nowadays, however, anybody in possession of a smartphone can film, edit and broadcast to the world. These skills are becoming mainstream, and our project helps our students to further develop and hone the raw talent they already possess.

#5 Creating new content for the future. Perhaps the most tangible benefit of all is that every semester our students produce content that will be used by the students coming up behind them and by teachers around the world. d And so students become tool makers,  adding their own tacit knowledge to the ever-evolving and never-ending quest to understand cultural phenomena.

Tales from a Multicultural Classroom:

Ronan Browne, Documentary Filmmaker and Tales Co-teacher