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A Beginner’s Guide to Video Essays

Do your students audibly groan when assigned an essay? Video essays are an intriguing alternative to traditional papers for teachers to incorporate into their curriculum.

This new medium is taking over YouTube, combining informative information with visuals to create interesting ways to present arguments or divulge facts. Read on to find out how video essays can be an awesome learning tool in your classroom.

What Are Video Essays?

Video essays are a spin on a traditional essay in that they use a visual medium to present facts, data, and information. Essentially, it’s half essay and half film. They require research of a topic, the writing of a script, and finding relevant photos or videos as supporting evidence.

These have been taking over social media as a fast and interesting way to share knowledge.

Why Should You Use Video Essays in the Classroom?

1. They will expose students to a new medium

In this digital age, a student can’t be too familiar with creating videos. Just look at Facebook — articles and photos are quickly being replaced by short clips or videos that people are more likely to share. Having the advantage of creating video essays in middle and high school will undoubtedly prepare them for a similar assignment in college or a career.

2. Pupils will learn from each other’s work

If you were to read essays aloud or have students read each other’s work, it’s unlikely that they would retain much of it. But if you show video essays in class, viewers will immediately feel like they’re watching a movie or fun YouTube video and be engaged. On top of hearing the words being spoken, they’ll be able to associate the images on the screen to the topic. Given that many students are visual learners, this could make the lesson much more memorable even after just one viewing.

3. Students Will Find Different Parts Enjoyable

While one student may look forward to gathering relevant images and videos, another may be an editing wiz. Others might be more interested in the writing of the script and research aspect. This makes video essays a great idea for group projects, where each team member can use their individual strengths to create a wonderful finished product.

What Are the Challenges of Video Essays?

video essaysThere are some difficulties in assigning video essays to your students, starting with the technology involved. A student could be an excellent essay writer and do wonderful research to create their script yet struggle when it comes to editing a miniature film.

Another issue is accessibility to video-making programs or computers. Some students may not have a personal computer that they always have access to, while others may be able to afford programs that make the video making process much easier.

Students will also quickly realize these assignments take much longer to complete than a traditional essay.

Even if you don’t assign video essays to your students, you may find them to be a helpful tool in the classroom to watch and learn from. Students can be asked to watch such videos and create outlines to highlight the main points as part of a lesson. Given that the medium is growing quickly, it shouldn’t be hard to find a video relevant to what students are learning!

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Stephanie Petit

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