How to Use Videos in the Classroom

by Hope Morley

A video we made using PowToon

There’s no shortage of video-sharing websites that teachers can access to enhance their lessons. But how can you find the most helpful, appropriate, and engaging videos for the classroom without spending hours sifting through the millions of online offerings?

Finding Videos

When it comes to finding video content online, YouTube seems to be the obvious choice. But YouTube isn’t as useful in the classroom as you might expect. Anyone can post to YouTube, and there is little to no content moderation, so you never really know what recommended videos might pop up. And videos often start with ads that may or may not be student-friendly. Plus, many schools block the site. However, SafeShare allows you to share a YouTube video safely. SafeShare removes the ads, sidebars, and recommendations for related videos, so students see only the content you’ve chosen for them.

SchoolTube has been designed specifically as a YouTube alternative for K–12 students and teachers to share content they’ve created. A team of volunteer teachers and other school staff moderates each video posted on SchoolTube to ensure that it’s suitable for student viewing.

If you’re looking for premade video lessons to incorporate into your lesson plan, Khan Academy is a good place to start. We’ve reviewed Khan Academy and found that the site has several helpful features, including a variety of video lessons across several subjects and metrics that keep track of students’ progress.

Making Videos

Plenty of educators have developed video lectures simply by setting up a tablet or camera and hitting record. But if you don’t want to be the star of your own video, various screencasting tools allow you to make a video screen capture of the movements you make on a computer or tablet. This method is perfect for creating a how-to video or recording on-screen video of an IWB presentation you’ve made. Some of this software must be purchased, but there are free options as well. (We use Quicktime on a Mac to create our ActivInspire how-to videos.)

One notable video-making option available online is PowToon, a site that provides templates for creating customized animated videos and presentations. To test how user-friendly the site is, we made a video on how to use a semi-colon. The 2-minute, 23-second video took almost 2 hours to make (mainly because we were having fun playing around with the different choices), but the site was relatively easy to use. We stuck to the free version, but subscriptions are available that include longer video lengths, better upload quality, and other style options.

Using Videos

So you’ve found or made your video. What’s next? Free web tools encourage higher levels of student engagement and interactivity than simply watching and discussing a video in class.

The Mad Video allows you to add “tags” to any Vimeo, Brightcove, or YouTube video to link to related articles, images, videos, or websites. As they watch a video, students can click on these tags to access the additional content. This is a great tool for differentiated instruction, since you can add content targeted to students of differing abilities. allows users to annotate online videos in real time. Simply provide a link to the video, and take notes as you watch. synchronizes your input with the video, so later, you can click on your notes and the video will automatically jump to the related segment. This service connects through Google Drive, so you must have a Google account to use it. is a must for any blended or flipped classroom.

How do you use videos in the classroom?

Hope Morley

Hope Morley is a consultant and social media coordinator for Green Light Professional Development. She writes about social media, conferences, and anything else on the web that helps both students and teachers learn. Follow her @GreenlightLT

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