Educators: Using videos to teach

Educators: Using videos to teach

There are a number of excellent resources ( and some not-so-excellent ones) nowadays about online learning and remote teaching that advises using video conferencing. There are ways to use videos to teach really well, and there are ways where using videos might not actually add too much to your teaching. In this blog, we quickly walk through some pros and cons of different video teaching methodologies and give some suggestions of when/how to use each type.

Let’s start with synchronistic and asynchronistic video teaching. What are they and how are they best used?

Synchronistic Video Teaching

It is a video conference happening in real time. You’re speaking in a video to your students on the other end in real time. It’s such as a virtual class. You are able to enable/disable chat functions, and if you want, you’ll have students share their very own screens or ask questions. Basically, this works such as a virtual class.

PRO: It allows for real-time questions and discussion and tangents that might not otherwise happen. It really is more like a organically developing class. Students can feel seen and heard.

CON: It can be unfair to students who do not have exactly the same resources (high speed internet, devices etc.) at home at a fixed moment in time. Throughout COVID19’s unprecedented go on to have us all work from home, some students are sharing space, devices, etc. with other family members. As it’s spontaneous, you may or may not cover whatever you intend to into the allotted time.

Asynchronistic Video Teaching

This is a video that is pre-recorded and will be watched by the student on their own time. It generally does not enable real time question and answer, but it could be paused and replayed if the students miss anything or want a repeat of information that they didn’t catch the first time through.

PRO: It is equitable into the sense that students can access it when/how they want or can, based on their needs. If they need aids to hear/see etc. they are able to put those in place in advance (or you are, via closed captioning etc.). You are able to polish your material to ensure that you communicate what you’d like.

CON: It can be a bit disengaged both for you and for your students. Also, if you are not familiar with pre-recording without an audience, it can feel very strange to teach to a computer screen! There isn’t any option for real-time questions, and so students might misunderstand material.

Obviously, there are pluses and minuses to both kinds of video teaching.thesis statements about racism A more thorough approach is one that blends both asynchronistic and synchronistic video teaching options.

  1. Asynchronistic Lessons: Pre-record short (5-minute) videos with mini-lessons on long lasting topic might be that you want to cover. These can be resources that students can reference over and over again, and short videos are easily consumable by students.
  2. Synchronistic Office Hours: Schedule one-on-one or small group “office hours” or discussion groups where you give students the opportunity to check-in and have questions. As well, it really is nice to touch base with them.
  3. Asynchronistic How-To Videos: If you are using technology that may be new to you or the students to supply material, you may make very quick and easy screen capture videos that can be a reminder showing students “how to” use the software that you want them to use. Similarly, you need to use voice-over for power point presentations and gives those as stand-alone videos.
  4. Synchronistic Feedback: If you are providing feedback on submitted work during this time once we are all working from home, you may want to schedule brief one-on-one feedback sessions that allow students to get more insight into what they did well or not so well on their assignments.

You need to use Google Meet, Zoom, YouTube, Skype, Go to Meeting, or even FaceTime to get in touch via video with your students.

Ensure you check the settings before you launch your first video seminar, and even do a trial run when you can. Where possible, use password protected or invite-only options so that you are able to limit your synchronistic video sessions to your students and your students alone. If you are comfortable with your asynchronistic sessions being more public, then you can easily use YouTube and set your settings to public, making your teaching resources offered to a wider audience, including those who may find themselves in classes without dedicated teachers like you!

More than anything, be yourself. If you are most comfortable standing at the front and talking, then set-up your phone, turn on the video, and stand up and talk! Record yourself and share that with your students.

There are some other platforms, EssayJack included (screenshot below), where you can add in your own short videos as part of larger assignments and lessons.

So get filming and also fun!

If you found this article helpful, do I would ike to know and reach out to me on Twitter and let me know what other articles around teaching writing and teaching online you’d like to see more of.

Maybe your school or district is now turning to take-home exams. Perhaps your university has decided to have you write exams at home. Awesome, right? You’ll have your notes and be able to write in the comfort of your home. But remember: it’s however an exam and you’ll however want to prepare. So here are strategies to make sure you ace those take-home exams!

The Main Elements of a Take-Home Exam

Exams differ from subject to subject, and sometimes they truly are a great deal more important for starters field than these are generally for others. Some educators believe that exams are the most important thing ever, and other educators hate exams. Nonetheless, many individuals are turning to take-home exams right now as a way to assess student achievement because many people are forced to learn remotely due to COVID19.

Educators will administer get hold of exams in different methods but in most cases they will:

  1. be open book with notes allowed, and
  2. have some timed element.

A get hold of exam differs from an in-person exam because the stress of memorising a large amount of information is largely gone. But with the timed element, either timing through an online portal or a quick turn around from when enough time the exam is shared to when it is due, implies that the stakes are still just like high.

Because your instructors know you do not need certainly to memorise details, they’re going to expect more from you in a take-home exam setting than in an in-person one.

Below are some tried and true strategies to help you succeed on take-home exams – whether it’s for a qualification or due to COVID19 or simply because your instructors like get hold of exams!

Short Answer Take-Home Exam Questions & Strategies

We’ve listed three of the very common short take-home exam questions and some strategies to master them if and when they appear on your take-home exams.

Multiple Selection Exam Questions

  • Write many practice questions with this type. If your text book has practice tests, use them! If there are previous exams from previous years, use them! If there are online practice versions with this test, use them!
  • Study both the big a few ideas as well as some of the smaller details. Pay attention to relationships, similarities, and differences between and amongst various a few ideas. How are things just like or distinctive from one an other?
  • Study sections of this material and then write concepts out in your own words. Men and women always say that you never learn anything so well as when you’ve got to teach it, so if you put the concepts into your own words to explain it to somebody else you’ll remember it better for the exam.
  • Read exam questions CAREFULLY! Often the trick to being successful on multiple choice questions is to read the nuance into the question, and then select the very best answer out of a selection which could possess a number which can be technically correct or okay answers. Choose the best one by paying attention to the facts.

True/False Exam Questions

  • Read true/false questions VERY CAREFULLY. Often the “devil is in the details” with these types of questions. For anything to be true, all the details of the question/statement should be true. If one of the details is untrue, then a whole statement is false.
  • Pay attention to qualifying words. Often a statement that is an absolute – the sky is always blue! – is false, but with qualifiers it will be true – once the sun shines, the sky is quite often blue! In this sentence “quite” is a qualifier.
  • Look closely at the use of negatives. Remember that a double negative means a positive. For example, “it just isn’t unfair to ask trick questions” means “it is fair to ask trick questions.”

Fill in the Blanks Exam Questions

  • When making your own notes, leave out keywords. Write sentences, and leave out the dates or the names of important men and women. Then go back to see when you can fill out those blanks in your own notes. In most cases, you’re going to be typing your notes, so type up a full pair of notes, and then go through and cut out these keywords (dates, names, etc.) and paste them in another document as you go along. Then you’ll have one document with blanks, and another with the answers. Take a break and go back and test yourself!
  • Pick out what you think are the most important details in your notes; these are generally likely the ones that is had a need to fill out the blanks.
  • Check your text books for interesting bits of trivia. Sometimes instructors want to have quirky details that you wouldn’t otherwise expect.

Long Answer Take-Home Exam Questions & Strategies

Most long answer take-home exam questions are essay-type responses. There are a few methods to achieve success at these.

  • Write out practice essays. Time yourself. Set a practice essay question. Start writing. See how far you receive.
  • Prepare outlines for a amount of essay questions that you think will probably appear on your take-home exam. Like that you’ve done the brainstorming and organising work in advance.
  • Pay close attention to keywords into the essay question. If the question has something like “compare,” “discuss,” “analyse,” “justify,” etc. in the question, you will need to make certain you are doing what the question asks in your essay response.
  • Be sure that the thesis of your essay gets at the main idea that the essay question is asking. While any good essay question likely offers options for many sub topics becoming explored, you wish to make sure your essay targets what your instructor wants. Avoid going off on random tangents.
  • Spend around a fifth of your time organising and outlining before you start writing. As being a rough guide, students should certainly write a 500-word essay in around 40 minutes total, meaning around 8 minutes should always be spent into the pre-writing, planning stage. Here’s an article breaking down how to write a 500-word essay in 40 minutes.

Once you learn your teacher or professor is going to give you an essay response question your best option is to apply! You need to use the EssayJack templates of Academic Essay (university) or Five Paragraph Essay (high-school) to apply the structure and organisation of your essay.

Having the Timing Right!

Whether you are writing a take-home exam filled with long-answer essay questions or one with short answer questions or one having a mix of both, it will be important to watch your timing. If your instructor is providing you three days for a take-home exam, then which means that they are expecting you to take your time and think through your responses quite closely. Their standards is higher than if they had only given you one hour. So don’t leave this take-home exam until the last second!

On the other hand, if your take-home exam is only available within a short window of time, make certain you organise it properly so that you set a time limit for each section and move along promptly.

So a take-home exam offers an opportunity showing off what you know and write in the comfort of your home and your pyjamas! Just be organised, be calm, and all the best!

Educators are finding themselves asked not only to be experts in their fields, not only to care about teaching and learning, but in addition to (quite instantly!) translate their expertise into the classroom into exciting and equitable online lessons and exams. It’s a tall order. So we have some quick and dirty tricks to aid educators with writing take-home exams, specially with essay or long-answer type questions.

Creating a Good Take-Home Exam

Some educators are extremely confident with the online or take-home exam space. If that is you, then this probably isn’t the blog for you. But it might give you some a few ideas and bolster your confidence in what you’re already doing.

But if you’re an educator and you know you’re great at what you do, but are lacking that confidence with regards to setting take-home or online exams then here is the weblog for you.

Some questions educators commonly have around take-home exams are:

  1. Just how do I ensure that my students don’t cheat?
  2. How can I prevent my students from plagiarising if they are at home?
  3. Just how do I write good take-home exam questions?

So let’s go through these.

Some Guidance on Take-Home Exam Questions

Whether or not students cheat and/or plagiarise on a take-home or online exam are often directly associated with the third point, the quality of the questions. Below are some easy-to-use strategies to simply help limit the temptation for students to cheat and/or plagiarise on your own take-home exams or online exams.

First things first, let’s define cheating in this context. Given that a take-home exam or a online exam allows students to use resources at their disposal – notes, texts, the world-wide-web, etc. – it is quite likely that certain of those resources they may use is each other. Let’s agree that it’s not “cheating” for students to exert effort together or struggle through some questions by bouncing a few ideas off each other.

What is “cheating,” however, is if students go online and pay someone to write the exam for them or provide them with answers.

So what is the best way to create a situation in which the latter is very difficult?


  • Add open-ended questions. As much as possible, have open-ended questions, questions where there is certainly room for interpretation, creativity, and vital thinking. In this way, students aren’t necessarily working towards having the “right” answer ( which they can certainly get in one another or somebody else), but rather working towards the best expression of their own right answer.
  • Use sight passage. If possible, make an effort to use compare/contrast long answer or essay questions about things that you give them as sight passages regarding the take-home exam. In this way, you’ll be able to provide them with anything where their response matters the absolute most and is harder to share that on-the-spot comparison with someone to write for them.
  • Have a bank of different questions. Mix up the questions for different students. Eventually if you need to get at their thinking on a particular subject, when you can do it, provide different questions for different students into the exam.
  • Use sight passages which can be unknown or not well know. For example, in History or Literature classes, find a section of something that isn’t easily googled and have essay questions directly associated with that passage. For other sorts of analyses, have graphs for discussion with data that you’ve made up or supplied yourself, so that the “answer” isn’t easily found anywhere beyond the student’s own power to analyse what you’ve given them.


Based on your institution’s policies, when you can open the exam timeline and close it within a set period of time, make sure to communicate that timeline in advance to students. Often usage of devices and internet for take-home exams is not the same as if students were in class or on campus, so communicating the timing of the take-home or online exam in advance in order for students can plan is very important.

When in doubt, it’s often better to be type and generous in this time of anxiety and uncertainty instead of becoming harsh. Our job as educators is to assess what students have learned, towards the best of our abilities, as opposed to to try and catch or trap them.

Take-home and online exams may be new to you now, but COVID19 is changing the landscape of education now and into the future and these types of exams are likely going becoming here to stay. So why not take this opportunity to experiment with these types of assessments now?