Saturday, February 9, 2013

Getting the most educational benefit out of videos

In two short weeks, I will be part of a great day, filled with sharing of resources and knowledge at a Tech Fair for Young Children.  The event is hosted by a local Early Childhood Family Education program.  The goal of the event is to empower parents, caregivers, and educators of young children to make informed, developmentally appropriate decisions related to the use of technology with young children.  I am providing three different sessions, one of these is on the use of video with young children.  This post summarizes the first part of our discussion on how video can be educational and what adult’s can do to maximize the impact on learning.  

Why use video with young children?
Video is engaging and attractive to young children.  Videos can provide experiences a child might not otherwise have.  If a child is asking what the inside of a bee hive looks like, a hands on experience may not be available but you might be able to find a fascinating video of the inside of a bee hive.  You could explain what you know about bee hives, but with video they can hear it and see it, much more powerful.  Educators can use video to expand content and flatten the classroom walls. Another opportunity videos offer is a novel way to provide needed repetition of some skills that require it.  

Some child development experts worry that when children are watching videos, they are not engaging in activities that we know are good for their development such as playing, engaging in physical activities, or playing outside.  Intention and balance are the key.  Mindful, informed, developmentally appropriate use of video can support and encourage all of these other things we know are good for children.  Watching a video of the bee hive might encourage a child to go outside and count how many bees he can find in the garden or lead to a cooking activity with honey.  Video will be much more educationally rich when combined with "unplugged" developmentally appropriate activities to help the learning stick.  Here are some tips and strategies for getting the most educational bang out of videos.  

1. Follow the child's lead.  Why do pigs like mud?  Do baby kangaroos really live in a pouch?  Children ask so many wonderful questions.  These questions lead to teachable moments and are opportunities for you to spark that sense of wonder and inquiry.  You can answer by saying, "let's find out" and model the research process.  Video can be a great tool to answer some of these questions and provide experiences that will lead to expansion and more inquiry. If you just visited the fire station and your child is buzzing about the experience, finding a video about fire stations encourages further reflection.
2.  Preview the content: Always watch videos all the way through to make sure the content and the way it is delivered is developmentally appropriate.  It is important that an adult is guiding young children through this experience by making responsible choices regarding content.  

3.  Watch the video with the child:  This is the tip that can have the greatest impact on increasing the educational value of the experience.  There have been numerous studies finding that children get greater educational benefit from engaging in the use of digital media with someone else.  Talking about the content with someone else increases recall and understanding, co-viewing encourages narration skills, and acquisition of new vocabulary. The Fred Rogers Early Learning Environment is home to an informative video that demonstrates very specific strategies adults can use while watching videos with young children.  Adults are encouraged to treat videos like they would a book by pausing the video, asking questions, commenting, expanding on the child's comments and helping the child make connections. 

4.  Set Limits:  Children need support in establishing and following limits. If needed, use a support such as a timer.      

5.  Keep the learning going, provide extension activities that will help make the learning stick:
     Connect digital and real life experiences: After viewing the video together, turn to an “unplugged” activity to help make the learning stick.  If your child watched a video of a bulldozer leveling dirt, get a bulldozer, head out to the dirt pile or sandbox and give it a try.  If a child watches a video of Mr. Rogers visiting the stage of STOMP, head to the kitchen to see what you and your child can find to make music.  After a child watches a video about boomerangs, challenge him or her to make one with paper and tape, or other materials, then take it outside and see if it works.
     Model other forms of research and inquiry:  Go to the library and find books about bulldozers. Go to the zoo and watch the kangaroos. Visit a local beekeeper and ask questions about bee hives.  
     Create: Now that you have acquired some new learning, create a product that demonstrates that learning.  Documenting and revisiting experiences in a different way will help the new learning stick.  Draw a picture of a bee hive or make a bee hive out of clay. Create a video of the Stomp production in your kitchen and share it with Grandma.  

The next part of the discussion will be where to find educational videos and how to provide the safest experience possible.  Did I miss any strategies?  


No comments:

Post a Comment