Using Video to Enhance Student Learning

Author: Jennifer Ellis, University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College

As a nurse educator, I am frequently challenged to find just the right resources to supplement student learning. Teaching technical skills often requires supplementing text books with classroom demonstration, but these face-to-face sessions only go so far in supporting student learning. Student need the opportunity to review independently, pause, rewind, and caption if needed. Many textbook providers offer skills videos, but cost, accuracy, and currency are always a factor when purchasing a prepackaged product.

My go-to site to combat these issues had been YouTube. Videos are free, easily accessible, and can be closed-captioned, but what happens when the videos available just do not meet your needs? I would spend hours searching for just the right skills video to provide students. I initially wrote off the time and effort as a worthy endeavor because, if I found something of quality, I would be saving the students money and supporting their learning. But after routinely spending hours and coming up empty-handed, I realized I needed a better solution and that is when I started developing my own short videos. YouTube was still part of the solution, free and easily accessible, but since I could not find the videos I needed, I decided to make my own using the equipment I had available: my smart phone. A quick search of the literature provided support for the idea and some suggestions for making quality videos without expensive equipment or technical knowledge. I used the search terms “YouTube,” “Classroom,” and “Best Practices” as my starting point. By following some basic rules – turning on airplane mode before recording to prevent interruptions, ensuring the phone was charged, filming in landscape mode as opposed to portrait, and doing a sound check prior to filming – I was creating the exact videos I needed for my classes in no time. These were not long or complex, just simple two to three-minute videos demonstrating a skill or a task, but they show what I need them to show and in a way my students need to see them. And I did not spend HOURS looking for them.

Sending to YouTube for student access was easy. I chose to create a free YouTube channel to house all my videos. Creating a channel is like having a Facebook page on YouTube. I can add my picture, change the colors and backgrounds so that students knew they were in the right place and bookmark my site for easy access. I can also categorize favorited videos from other YouTube users making them easily accessible for future use. From my phone, I use the free YouTube app for direct upload. The process allows me to assign a privacy setting, giving me options to make the videos visible only to me, to anyone with a link, or searchable by the general public. I make all my videos private until I am sure I am comfortable with the material. Then I change the settings to viewable with a link. This allows me to send to students, or post on our learning management system, but keeps them private from the general public by hiding them from the search results.

Watching the hits on the videos and reading student comments on course evaluations told me that they appreciated not only the videos but the method of delivery. I would walk down the hall and see students watching videos on their phones and iPads between classes or in the labs while practicing. Making the videos was fun, quick, and students enjoyed using the technology. This led to my next idea: let students make their own videos too! Literature supports the use of video as a teaching strategy and for evaluation purposes of skill development. It allows for student self-assessment, faculty evaluation through feedback, improving student’s confidence level, and ultimately improves performance (NCSBN, 2005; Watts, Rush, & Wright, 2009; Winters et al. 2007). Using the same process, equipment they already had, and simple directions, I incorporated video into class assignments. In one assignment, students videotape themselves demonstrating a skill, other times they demonstrated communication techniques where the camera was the “patient,” and in yet another assignment they were asked to document participation at an event by making a quick video sharing their initial thoughts while at the site. In all cases students uploaded their videos to Box, which our University uses for document storage and sharing. Other submission options could include emailing, texting, or Airdropping.
While I was worried that students would find the videoing confusing, I did not get one question about how to do it. I found they not only enjoyed the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge in a new way, but also benefited from it. In the communication homework assignment, students spoke to the camera as if they were a patient and provided health teaching on a preassigned disease process. In class, students then shared their videos with the class, and peers provided feedback. The conversation that occurred was truly exciting, peers learned new ways to say or explain things, and the student got feedback on elements like eye contact, speed, clarity, and accuracy from their peers. The learning that occurred in the discussion was more robust than anything I had done in the past, and I did not say one word!

Looking back at the past year of making and assigning videos, I truly feel that the learning that occurred in my classes improved as a direct result of this free and easy activity. But there are also learning curves. For some assignments, I now suggest students use stand,s which we have available in our Nursing Labs, when taping. This is particularly helpful in skills demonstrations so the camera does not shake or move during filming. I also spend some class time on setting up student Box accounts and help them create a shared folder for my course that allows them to upload material and immediately give me access. While videotaping was easy, the sharing process was more complex, but even with these areas of improvement, the time and effort is much less than I was putting in previously and the product much better!