Creating Videos Can Lead Students to Many Academic Benefits

Article excerpt

Assigning students projects involving video production can lead to many positive academic outcomes, and today more opportunities exist for educators to incorporate such video-oriented projects into their classroom practice. Video-making technology is more affordable, more user-friendly, and more powerful than ever before. Furthermore, many students have cell phones, cameras, and other handheld devices that have video-recording capabilities, thus making these types of projects more feasible for teachers to implement.

Although relatively little research has been done on the academic outcomes of video production for children (Norton & Hathaway, 2010), Siegle (2009) argues that educators would be remiss by not implementing these types of projects because young people are not only surrounded by visual images but also naturally attracted to viewing and producing videos. Unfortunately, teachers sometimes still face impediments when attempting to implement video projects with their students. This article discusses how student-created video projects can enhance motivation, multimodal literacy, problem-solving skills, and content knowledge. Readers will also find examples of video-making activities teachers can implement for students--ranging from primary school to middle school--and a discussion of some obstacles instructors can encounter when attempting to use these kinds of projects.


One of the most important aspects of video-making projects involves the power videos have in engaging and motivating students. Students tend to enjoy viewing videos and seem to be viewing them more often. Nielsen (2009) notes that each year teens are viewing online videos at an increasing rate. Additionally, Spires, Hervey, Morris, and Stelpflug (2012) indicate that a growing number of youth use video to communicate and express themselves.

By providing projects that match this trend, educators can use video production as a method to tap into pupils' interests and thus engage students to learn across the curriculum (Spires et al., 2012). Siegle (2009) contends that in addition to being a great motivator for all students, video also can allow some students to learn a concept more clearly.


Participating in video-based projects will encourage students to develop multimodal literacy. This form of literacy has been defined as the ability to use various representational formats, including visual, spatial, audio, and linguistic modes, to make meaning (Spires et al., 2012). Norton and Hathaway (2010) mention that although definitions of media literacy vary in the research literature, the term generally refers to the ability to access, learn, analyze, communicate, and evaluate using a variety of formats.

The technology boom over the past 20 years has led to a new demand for educators to teach students in a manner allowing them to function well with multimodal media. Notable literacy organizations, such as the International Reading Association (IRA) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) (1996), have added standards emphasizing the need for teachers to use nonprint media, including video, and more organizations will likely add similar standards in the near future.

In addition to promoting the development of multimodal literacy skills, the process of creating videos has potential to lead to many more academic benefits. Students often learn about a topic as they create their own video and can use the video to demonstrate what they learned (Siegle, 2009). The Poway Unified School District (2008), for example, reports that students in the 1st grade at Highland Ranch Elementary School won an award for a movie pupils created that benefited the children academically. The purpose of the movie was to teach others about the strategies good readers use. Mrs. Payne, the teacher for this project, noticed that when her students made the movie, they became more aware of the strategies good readers use and apply when reading new content. …