Using video to improve teaching and learning

By Kari Arfstrom
February 22nd, 2012

Iowa teachers can model or learn from exemplary lessons by posting or watching short videos online.

Knowing that good teaching leads to increased student achievement, the Great Prairie Area Education Agency (GPAEA) in Ottumwa, Iowa, already had legacy programs in place to coach and mentor new teachers and to highlight best practices of professional educators using video. To expand these practices and share them with others, GPAEA sought a cost-effective, easily accessible way to store and retrieve these educator-made videos to use for improved teaching and learning.

Research and common sense show that self- and shared reflection for beginning and established educators, often by viewing audio and visual recordings made in the classroom, is an important and common practice. GPAEA wanted to expand this reflective practice, and by having an online repository, the agency could integrate this program into a more cost-effective service offered to its school clients.

The GPAEA leadership team, led by then-Chief Administrator Joe Crozier and current Chief Administrator Jon Sheldahl, wanted a web-based place to store videos for ongoing professional development for and by local district educators. The catchment area of the GPAEA consists of 35 school districts, as well as a number of non-public schools, and it is one of nine in Iowa.

Because curriculum and technology staff already were in the habit of working together to ensure that the technology supports the teaching and learning and doesn’t become a hindrance or an obstacle, they were able to work together to seek a system to support their needs.

After exploring online storage and retrieval options, the GPAEA team decided not to use YouTube (the initial obvious choice) for the following reasons: They wanted a system built with educators in mind that offered a peer-reviewed system to select videos based on criteria they developed, content that was aligned to the Iowa Core Curriculum, and high-quality materials directed and focused on the resources available through the AEA. Also, many districts do not allow access to YouTube on school computers, so a safe, reliable, low-cost PD system was sought. The team decided to create a GPAEA-TV portal with the EduVision platform from JDL Horizons.

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2 Responses to “Using video to improve teaching and learning”

April 17, 2012

It is really interesting to see the subject of teaching using video coming up often, but little mention is made of the fact that the vast majority of these video providers are totally ignoring the use of subtitles, otherwise known as closed captions.

Using video for teaching without the use of subtitles fails provide equal access for all students in the classroom. In addition to that what most online video providers are deliberately ignoring is the fact that The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) enacted in 1975 and especially The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 requires the provision of subtitles.

Further to that, video alone provides no solution, it only provides an ingredient. Technical support, interactive study tools and even Lesson plans that combine the use of that video into a meaningful lesson are all essential. But again so many people like You Tube and Khan Academy or throwing video up online and in the latter case claiming that it revolutionises education in the classroom.

A recent survey of all the main online video services provides a comparison review of the main online video providers and it enables teachers to compare apples with apples and oranges with oranges.

A copy of that comparison servey is available here:

It clearly shows that the main providers include Zane Education, BrainPop and Discovery. However only one service provides the quality of subtitles necessary on video developed specifically for the teaching of the K-12 curriculum – Zane Education.

I hope that is of some help!