Why Personalizing Video Learning in the Classroom is Important

From kindergarten to college, our classrooms are teeming with a dizzying array of students with diverse talents and interests and different learning styles.

A considerable proportion of these students don't fit the traditional "listen/read/write" mold that we remember from our schooldays, despite this still being the norm today.

Some are curious and want to learn, others are less keen on learning in the traditional sense and may be easily distracted but highly creative; others may not be able to physically attend school but are thirsty for knowledge.

Which begs the question: are we failing those who are not organized, compliant, enthusiastic, little angels fortunate enough to excel within the confines of the current educational system?

Many of the best minds in education are pondering how to ensure these students' individual talents, interests and learning needs are being sufficiently encouraged and nurtured.

Inroads are being made. Most of us now accept that adopting a wide range of different learning styles can dramatically improve every student's engagement and learning outcomes, not just the favored few. And an increasing number of educational institutions are stepping up to the plate to address this issue.

Yet while the buzzwords of "individualized" and "personalized" learning have entered the educational vernacular, it is unrealistic to ignore the very real challenges and constraints that our schools and colleges face: growing student numbers and class sizes, more with English as a second language, and financial belt-tightening to name a few.

There is however a way to adopt a more personalized approach to education that won't throw the children out with the bath water: using video as an adjunct to existing teaching methods.

Video is an ideal medium for personalizing and enhancing the teaching and learning experience. Its flexibility, adaptability and accessibility make it as appealing to the Cinderellas and Matildas in our classrooms and lecture theaters as to the Harolds and Pippis.

In a survey we undertook earlier this year we asked more than 1,200 respondents from over 60 educational institutions globally for their thoughts on the state of video in education. 82 percent of respondents say that video helps students to achieve better learning outcomes, and 91 percent believe that video enhances the learning experience. Interestingly, two thirds of those surveyed state that their institutions already incorporate video in student assignments.

So let's look at how video can be used quite easily to personalize and adapt the teaching and learning experience for different types of learners, as well as their teachers. To illustrate, I'm using some of our favorite childhood characters.

Let's start with Pippi Longstocking, a cheerful, hyperactive, impatient and curious child who isn't a native English speaker. Unlike traditional textbooks, today's video platforms make it easy for teachers to use chaptering tools to set up Pippi with shorter video chapters that better hold her attention. Adding in-video quizzes to content with calls to action also help to keep her engaged and her responses to the questions can be linked to her grade cards. She can also control the playback speed herself, which appeals to her impatient, hyperactive nature. And because she struggles with English, her teachers can add captions to the video to ensure she understands what she is viewing. Her curiosity can be assuaged by making it easy for her to discover more video content outside the classroom -- at home on her laptop or on her mobile while on the go.

Matilda is a different type of learner: an incredibly clever child who has a thirst for knowledge but is mocked by her family for wanting to learn. Video search tools -- including in-video search -- that rely on the availability of rich metadata (not just a title and one-line description), are very important to her, giving her lots of opportunities to discover and hoover up related content from beyond the curriculum. Video on demand is also essential for Matilda, because she needs to be able to view content on her terms, when her family aren't around to laugh at her.

Harold of Purple Crayon fame is a true creative: he loves to create his own worlds and video provides an ideal outlet for his colorful imagination. Harold excels when given the tools to create and author his own video content -- a much better way to engage him than tedious text. Being resourceful, Harold also likes to customize his entire video experience, from the look and feel of the video player to the associated editing/capturing tools. A full player studio that puts him in the driving seat helps to keep him engaged and improve his learning.

Cinderella's main problem is that she can't attend school and must rely on remote learning. She might not be able to listen to the audio track, so video transcripts and captions are really important. Chopping the video into smaller segments and making it easy for her to pause and restart videos where she left off also work well for Cinderella because she is easily distracted by the stresses and strains of her busy day. The chance to use authoring tools to complete video assignments and to receive feedback from her teachers through video help her to feel less remote from her classmates.

Just as students differ, so do our teachers. Some are charismatic and easily able to share knowledge and engage students, while others see themselves primarily as content custodians, there to capture content for future generations. Then there are those who prefer to control access to their teaching materials. All of them can engage students better by adding video to their teaching toolkit.

Dumbledore, for example, teaches a large and diverse group of students with different skill levels, interests and needs. He has a vast amount of knowledge to impart and is creative, smart and charismatic. His challenge is to create different types of content and share these videos in a controlled manner because not all students are allowed access to every piece of content. He needs easy video creation/capture tools, a great video search engine (lots of metadata), as well as the ability to make his content easily accessible and available at any time, on any device. After all, his students may need to look up a particular magic spell in a hurry!

Yoda, a fighting master, can't do without video to convey and explain complex Jedi skills. Some of his students are remote, so remote access to video content is essential, while the ability to view and practice skills by slowing down and replaying videos is important. Yoda is very keen on video assignments because he can see how his students are doing and can also offer video feedback that helps them to improve their Jedi skills.

Karate master Mr. Miyagi is a patient, hesitant teacher. He tutors students individually but also likes the fact that with video he can share some of his knowledge globally -- not only his karate skills, but also his approach to life in general. Because his speech is not always clear, he likes to add captions. He also incorporates lots of metadata to make it easy for a global audience to find content they'll love.

As these examples illustrate, video is an engaging learning tool that lends itself to creative kids who may struggle with reading and writing, as well the more challenging, distracted students and the more academically inclined. Today's emphasis on video technology tools that enable easy customization of the viewing and creation experience by both teachers and students is helping to make personalized learning a reality in our education system.

Which is good news for all those Cinderellas, Matildas, Pippis and Harolds out there, as well as the Mr. Miyagis and Yodas that are constantly challenged with showing better results.