Then a video playing 60 frames per second is worth 60,000 words per second!! So a 4 minute video is worth a whopping 240,000 thousand words!!! Crazy! Now the validity of that statement may be up in the air a little bit, and the math may not scale up in a linear relationship like that, but I do think a video has a lot of educational power in a very short amount of time. In our go-go-go developed world where time is precious and always in short supply, learning things quickly and efficiently is crucial. This is why the most utilized piece of educational software in my classroom is the short video clip, typically provided from YouTube.


It’s more common for one of my classes to contain a short video than not. I love them because it provides a change of scenery in the class to keep students engaged and focused, it’s very helpful to more visual learners, and they just often provide a different voice and style, and diversity is important in reaching the majority of the audience. I’d be curious to know how many of us have tried to understand something through either listening to someone explain it, or from trying to read about it, only to turn to a video explanation because we struggled to understand it. I think that video is a powerful learning tool to the majority of people as it provides the explanation while also showing what it is we need to understand.


Has anyone every learned something through watching a YouTube video?? I would guess that a great deal of you have!


I’m going to do a little experiment…


I’m going to offer you a choice. Below, I have provided two options for you. You may click on the link to read about smallpox, or you can watch the video on smallpox. And, go!

Click here to read about smallpox.

How many of you selected the video? It’s more of a rhetorical question, because I’m guessing that all would choose the video.


It seems that attention spans are becoming shorter and shorter in our fast-paced, tech-driven, stimulating environment. I don’t think it’s always a good thing to enable particular behaviours that can have potential downsides. I think it’s important to provide activities that require a longer process in order to solve so as to encourage that important trait of being able to ‘stick with it’, but we also need to provide instruction on important topics in ways that will really be effective and I think that videos are such an important tool in doing so while also taking minimal class time which allows for more instruction and deeper extensions into learning. If this blog goes on too long, I’m sure no one would read it because of the time commitment it would require. If we want to get a message across, we should be focused on isolating the essence of the message, and concisely communicate it. This, I think, is one of the endearing aspects of Twitter, as it forces us to communicate concisely which eliminates unnecessary communication and allows us to obtain a lot of information quickly. My favourite podcast, StarTalk Radio, has an episode with Biz Stone, one of Twitter’s creators, where this point is discussed.


I am sure that almost all teachers incorporate videos into their teaching to varying degrees. I rely on them a lot. I talked about this in my previous blog ‘You Don’t Need Technology For Learning To Be Enjoyable‘, and also in class last Tuesday when I was selected with the ‘Wheel of Terror’, but we cannot completely rely on videos. They are still a passive form of education. I have found that they can enhance learning, but are not sufficient by themselves for students to learn. They still have questions, they still want to hear me explain afterwards. What I have found to be the most effective way to utilize videos is for me to explain first, and then watch the video afterwards as they are not then trying to make sense of the information, they already understand, but the video is reinforcing in their mind what they had already started to learn. The real value in the video I have found is that they often use the visual stimulus to connect to their understanding. I often reference what happened in the video to remind students, and they can recall the visual stimulus that then connects them back to their understanding to help retrieve that information. The video is an important component in the cognitive learning theories as a tool for recall. Or I will also hear students helping each other out and saying, “remember when in that video…”. Powerful stuff.


I would like to wrap this up with sharing a couple of my most called upon video sources. Within YouTube, I am a huge, huge fan of the Green Brothers work (John and Hank), particularly their Crash Course and SciShow channels. Almost every educational discipline is covered in the Crash Course series and SciShow is awesome for science classes! is also a fantastic source of educational short videos, and many of these videos are found on Youtube as well. Again, a wide variety of educational disciplines is covered, so these sources of videos are valuable to not only me as a science teacher, but will hopefully become a valuable source of videos to teachers in all subjects.

Are these sources of videos ones you already use? If you have other great sources, please suggest them in the comments!


Thank you for taking the time to read this. I probably should have made a vlog instead of typing…


Live long and prosper