Asynchronous Video: Ways to Use it

Tracy Bruno
Tracy Bruno
Chief of Middle Schools; M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision
Young girl at home using a laptop and taking notes.

What is an Asynchronous Video?

If you spent any amount of time in the classroom over the last year and a half, you probably confronted distance learning and/or quarantines. Education changed and evolved because of COVID-19 and, thanks to the Delta Variant, we may not be done changing or evolving. My supervisor often tells us, “COVID didn’t happen to us, it happened for us”. Many of you may think this an odd quote, but it is all about how you look at opportunity.

One opportunity that was thrust upon many of us was the use of asynchronous video. You may ask yourself, “what exactly is an asynchronous video?” Asynchronous video is the use of video as a one-way communication tool. Think of it as recording some information that you then send to the students in your classroom to use at a later time. Synchronous video is the use of video in real time or a live stream. An example of the use of synchronous video would be a Google meet or the use of Zoom to conduct a live class or tutoring session with your students.

Ways to Use it with Your Students

There are a myriad of ways to use asynchronous video in your classroom. Think of the use of asynchronous video as the gift of time that you may not have in your classroom to deliver valuable information or differentiate instruction.

Pacing

If you are in year one of teaching or year 30, you have experienced pacing issues in your classroom. Last year, many schools instituted abbreviated instructional days in order to give students opportunities to meet with teachers during office hours. Instead of a full six or seven period schedule, classes sometimes met every other day or only briefly in the mornings. Even though the time in the schedule shrunk, the amount of content to cover stayed the same. Many teachers used flipped classrooms to get a head start on content. Teachers will record content and send a video to students so they can watch outside the designated classroom time (at night for example) in order to receive instruction for a future class.

Differentiation

If you have more than one student in your class, you can differentiate instruction. No matter how carefully we schedule students, there is always room for differentiation. Perhaps you have a student, or a small group of students, that did well on a pre-assessment and do not necessarily need the amount of direct instruction you planned for their classmates. A teacher can record content at a deeper level in order to challenge their higher-level students.

Students can also respond to instruction or answer discussion questions and send videos back to the teacher in order for the teacher to measure the students’ level of understanding. Remember, asynchronous videos work both ways: teacher-to-students as well as students-to-teacher.

Cooperative Learning Projects

The use of asynchronous video can work in this situation, whether students are live in class or learning remotely. Teachers often brainstorm project-based learning ideas with their students and come up with a list of topics from which the groups can choose. Teachers could set the stage for the group’s learning or initial steps to the project with asynchronous video. Think about how much time you could save by front loading content and expectations on a video so students can watch on their own.

The great thing about asynchronous video is that students can go back and watch it as many times as they wish. As students complete the project, they can submit asynchronous videos of their discussion or products for the teacher to review.

Use During Quarantine

When a student in an in-person setting tests positive for COVID-19, the contact tracing begins. Depending on proximity to the positive student, a teacher may see a third or half of their students quarantined and miss school for a couple of weeks. Many teachers in our district had a hard time streaming students synchronously during the regular class time. Quarantined students would sometimes distract the class while the teacher was teaching or not be able to get the teacher’s attention whey they had questions. The teacher and the students became stressed out.

Teachers started to record their live instruction and then send the video of the lesson to the quarantined students. Teachers would then reach out to the quarantined students during their planning period to answer any questions and check for understanding. Again, students benefited because they could watch the lesson as often as needed and some of their questions could be posed and answered by students in the live class.

Connecting Experience with Education

During remote learning, many students took trips with their families or worked in their community and were still able to participate in class each day thanks to technology. Think about a geography teacher teaching a lesson on the Oregon Trail while a family is taking advantage of remote learning by hopping into an RV and setting out across the country. The family could very well experience parts of the Oregon Trail on their trip. The student in the RV could record interactions at different sites/stops and turn those in in lieu of some of the assignments for the unit and submit those real life moments through asynchronous video.

Think about a teacher teaching a history lesson on famous philanthropists such as John D. Rockefeller, Bill Gates, or Oprah Winfrey and a student starts to make masks to give away to the less fortunate during the pandemic. The student could create a video diary of the process and turn it into the teacher to show mastery of the content as opposed to taking a multiple choice test!

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