So much education is about hands-on skills, from the skilled trades to health professions to the arts and beyond. Obviously, students learning these skills are given opportunities to learn by doing, but one key technology is now starting to be used so students learn their skills better, faster, and have more confidence. That technology isn’t fancy virtual reality or something powered by AI. It’s just video, but it’s video that’s recorded on students’ own phones. We used to think video in education was about watching how things are done. That’s 90's technology and pedagogy. Now, video for education has been flipped upside-down so its real power is students recording themselves to see how they’re doing and how they can do better. This isn’t catching on quickly, but eventually every skills learner will be self-recording for reflection and feedback.
This is all part of the skills revolution in pedagogy and getting past The Content Bias in Edtech, as we wrote in a recent post.
Here are seven reasons why EVERY skills program -- from nursing to welding to music to business presentations -- will be using student-recorded video in a few years.
But first, a question:
If you’re in hospital and a just-graduated nurse is operating a new pump to keep fluids or medication flowing into you at the right rate… Would you rather the new nurse had:
I know what my answer would be.
Evidence is now beginning to pile up in favor of students’ self-recording, watching, and reflecting, and getting feedback from their expert instructors. We see this in studies in Nursing and other health professions education (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). The results are similar in education for skilled trades (here), in teacher education and school leadership (here, and here), and in client relations and presentations (here, here, here. and here).
For one thing, we’re human and a lot of the time we don’t believe we’re doing something wrong until we see it. We heard from a young Dentistry professor, teaching Master’s-level dental students a specialty procedure, that her students regularly deny that they have made a little mistake operating on a plastic model. Then they see the video, swallow their pride (pun intended), and admit they need to practice it again to do it better.
Educational research shows that being a self-regulated learner, capable of honest reflection and taking feedback to heart, makes a big difference in skills learning. When video recording is done with buy-in from learners, not only does the performance of that particular skill improve, but they also learn how to self-regulate so that all of their learning becomes more effective.
Finally, there can be no doubt that practice makes perfect. But how much practice? Almost every skills educator will tell you that their students don’t practice enough. Why? Because there’s no teacher or trainer looming over them to watch them practice. But with phone video and cloud storage that just doesn’t apply any more. If you want students to practice, tell them to practice, self-record, and upload. Instructors don’t have to watch every minute; they just have to know that it’s being done. We even think this applies to youth sports – kids and parents are so competitive, why don’t they demand that the coach assigns homework?!?
Despite greater effectiveness… Unfortunately in education effectiveness doesn’t always drive curriculum and technology decisions. That’s because it’s so hard to measure effectiveness. So we need to look at other reasons why all skills learning will use student-recorded video in a few years’ time.
Students don’t have someone watching them practice in person enough. It simply costs too much. There isn’t time for teachers to be there. So self-recording while practicing or demonstrating skills is a huge cost-saver.
Part of this is that in-person assessment and feedback takes a lot more time than the actual performance of the skill. Probably double the time.
Take a nursing student doing a head-to-toe exam. Doing a role-play with another student, this takes about 10 minutes. But getting into the room, getting into position, starting and finishing takes about another 5. If the instructor has time to give feedback, it probably takes another 5, as the student takes notes.
If the students self-record and upload, the instructor doesn’t have to leave the office. The 10 minute video can be watched and feedback given in about 12 minutes, maybe even in less than 10 minutes, skipping forward or playing at a faster speed, with a few feedback points given at the exact moments in the video.
That’s a 40% savings in the instructor’s time. That time is a lot of money.
Skills programs are eventually going to recognize this because they’ll be able to properly teach more students with the same resources and produce better learning. The economics of not using video just don’t add up any more.
We know that video breaks barriers of time and space. In this case, it means that students and instructors don’t have to be in the same place at the same time. It isn’t just online programs that are wanting to make learning accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime; even on-campus programs want to make learning more accessible for students, including those with work or family commitments, or cost barriers to travel and accomodation.
Being able to do a skill, get feedback, and get assessed on it, from a distance, makes skills learning far more accessible. Even when the skills need to be learned in a specific context with equipment or materials provided by the school, students may be able to access them at times when instructors aren’t there (evenings!) and use video to get feedback. And think of skills that need to be learned on-location, in the field, like fitting valves on a pipeline. Video can make this far more accessible and cost-effective.
We heard a student in a French class at UBC in Vancouver say that recording her own skill (a presentation) “allowed me to create a presentation that I did not have to present in front of an entire class. I could record it at home, which meant I did not have to find childcare for my son, which I would have if we had presented in office hours. I still got the practice and feedback from my prof.”
Every educator knows that students are less passive than they used to be. They are demanding that they graduate with competence and confidence in the skills they’re learning. At the same time, employers need specific, repeatable skills less than in the past. So employers and learners want programs to produce students with a great feel for the various skills in their professional domain. That means students are demanding more practice. They’re choosing programs based in Competency-based Learning.
Students and educators are also making learning more social than it ever has been. Group work, team-based learning, peer-review and peer-instruction are all finding their way into curriculum and classes. Students have more agency and more creativity in this context. Since video is now such a ubiquitous and cheap mode of documenting learning and communicating, it seems natural that students will want to have a video camera in their hands to show that they’ve learned and to make original contributions to knowledge and dialogue. Quite simply, the evolving expectations of learners over the next fifty years will mean that they will ask for ways to show what they can do and get feedback from their teachers.
Gradually, the cultures of teaching and course design are meeting students new expectations. Teachers, professors, instructors, trainers now want to see their students develop skills and confidence. Look at it this way: almost no new teachers, at any level, are content to do what was done to them and just talk at students and give papers and exams. They are now noticing all the educational research that shows learning involves deliberate practice with feedback, social support, agency, and modelling or mentorship from their teachers. Here’s the seminal article on deliberate practice by Anders Ericsson and colleagues.
Programs that are skills-heavy, especially the hands-on skills programs but also interpersonal skills programs, are noticing that their newer instructors are not afraid of students having a lot more control of their learning. Putting cameras in the hands of these learners makes sense to a new generation of teachers and course designers.
Skill programs, especially ones that involve the operation of technology, have to deal with the cost of that equipment. Think of a program in Automated Controls Installation and Maintenance. The technology they use must change all the time. Testing students using printed or even online materials would require a massive effort to keep up, year by year. But if students are simply operating the equipment and recording themselves, the assessment can be right to the point: Can the student do the job or do they need some coaching? The key here is that a student learns to operate equipment and solve problems in a given area, so it doesn’t even matter if the equipment is a bit out of date.
The student can then keep the video to show mastery of the skills to employers.
Which brings us to the final reason: Badging, Blockchain, Portfolios, AI and so on.
Resumes and interviews are dying out as employers look to hire hard-working, skilled, reliable people. In the software world most employers give extended problem-based tests to job-seekers. Other firms ask a candidate to come in for a day or a week and actually work. Instead of resumes and interviews, employers are looking at Badges earned on short courses; ePortfolios showing the actual work that the person has done, including reflection on it; and various forms of network recommendations like LinkedIn.
What better way to prove that you can do something than by pointing an employer to video – hosted on your ePortfolio. Even better is if the course instructor or another expert has left comments and the student herself has reflected on the demonstration of competency. That shows humility, the ability to learn from coaching, and hopefully, that the learner mastered the technique.
So how do you let students upload video assignments? Some of the big Learning Management Systems allow students to upload video, but they don’t really accommodate peer-learning or time-specific comments. For that you’ll need to go with these asychronous video tools:
Education doesn’t move very fast in taking advantage of technological change to reinvent programs and curriculum. So it’ll take a few more years before all skills programs let learners learn from video of the learners themselves. I guess it took a while after the availability of paper and writing instruments for educators to shift from oral exams to written output, but it happened. Students could show that they could make an argument and communicate in an extended written form. Centuries later, smartphone video cameras and the cloud do something similar, breaking barriers of time and space for skills learning.
Feedback is widely accepted as a critical part of the learning process (Boud & Molloy, 2013). As many scholars indicate, feedback not only provides direction on what particular techniques the leraner needs to improve, but is essential for the student’s growth – boosting their confidence, increasing motivation and self-esteem (Clynes & Raftery, 2008). While the feedback itself may be provided in a variety of different ways, there has been a particular surge in the use of video-based feedback methods alongside video assignments to support learning and education in professional development and sporting environments. More recently, as Lauber & Keller (2014) discuss, the usage of such methods in conjunction with course material may be an exceptionally promising tool within the health sector for the practice and education of nurses. With the critical responsibility of caring for and treating patients (often in stressful situations), the nursing educational process is rigorous and complex. There are a variety of skills a nursing student must master in order to be effective in their career including clinical practice, communication skills, motivational interviewing skills and many more. Early research suggests that video assignments and feedback are being put to effective use to assist in the mastery of such skills. Consider the following cases evaluating the effects of video feedback on various skills taught to nurses.
A study conducted by Noordman, Vander Weijden and Van Dulmen (2010) examined the effects of individual video feedback on communication skills, clinical competence (adherence to practice guidelines), and interviewing skills of nurses working in primary care. The study involved 17 nurses and 325 patients in which nurse-patient consultations were video-taped at two sessions with an interval of 3-6 months. Before the recordings, nurses were allocated to a control or video-feedback group. Nurses allocated to the video-feedback group received video-feedback between the two sessions.
The results indicated that nurses who received video-feedback appeared to pay significantly more attention to patient’s request for help, to accuracy in their head-to-toe examination, and gave significantly more understandable information to the patient. Moreover, in regards to interview skills, nurses in the video-feedback group appeared to pay more attention to ‘agenda setting and permission seeking’ during their consultations. Effectively, the study demonstrated that video-feedback may be an effective method to improve the generic communication skills of practicing nurses in the health sector. “Although a single video-feedback session does not seem sufficient to increase all motivational interviewing skills, significant improvement in some specific skills was found.”
A full link to the study may be found here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24588648
A similar study was conducted by Grant, Moss, Epps, and Watts (2010) to evaluate the effect of video-facilitated human patient simulator (HPS) practice and guidance on a student’s clinical performance. Students were given various roles and were evaluated on behaviors related to patient safety, communication, prioritization of care, implementation of appropriate interventions and delegation other health care team members. The study had 20 students from nursing and nursing anesthetist programs who participated in HPS practice and guidance with video feedback compared to a group of 20 students who participated in HPS practice and guidance that used oral feedback alone, in order to identify performance indicators that were sensitive to improvement.
The study showed that there was a significant difference between the the intervention group exposed to video feedback and the control group on three of the desired simulation behaviours: patient identification, team communication, and assessing vital signs. The highest number of desired behaviors were exhibited by the intervention group. Although there were no huge differences between the intervention group exposed to video feedback and the control group in total performance scores, the mean scores on the desired simulation behaviors were higher in the former. This is great evidence that video-recording and feedback provides advantages in exactly the practices and skills that you would expect it to improve. Moreover, the students in the intervention group in this study expressed great satisfaction with the idea of viewing their performance on video and receiving feedback. We note that this was 2010, and the video recordings were not made available to the students on the internet and the feedback was not pinpointed to times on the videos, except by reference to the minute where it occurred.
A link to the full study may be found here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1876139909005325
A study was conducted by Anita Nystrom in 2014 on 44 undergraduate nursing students. The primary aim was to examine the experiences of nursing students being video-recorded during an examination and of receiving feedback on their performance. The examination involved providing proper and effective emergency care for a simulated patient. Descriptive in design, the study tested the effectiveness using a qualitative approach with written answers and open ended questions.
The study revealed a great deal about the usage of video-recordings and feedback. While some students reported feeling tension knowing that their examination would be recorded, many of the subjects felt the dialogue with and responses from the teacher in connection with visualized feedback were beneficial the process was an excellent learning opportunity for the process of emergency care. As reported by Nystrom
“The students described how this opened their eyes to their own actions, and that visualization provided an opportunity to increase self-knowledge, both as a person and regarding their role as a nurse. The video-recording allowed them to see clearly and reconnect to what they had done and what they had neglected to do, which enabled the students to prepare for their future professional role.”
A link to the full study may be found here: http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:648405/FULLTEXT03
Overall, these case studies demonstrate that within the health sector, video-recording and video based feedback are viable valuable educational tools which promote dialogue, increased self-knowledge and professional growth for nursing students. They are very effective in bolstering students’ communication and interview skills, their abilities with HPS, and their ability to handle an emergent situation. However, as with other professions, the effectiveness of the feedback is heavily dependent on the feedback process, and the ability of the instructor to provide timely criticisms. Giving students clear and constructive feedback on their work in progress is just as important as giving clear instructions for the assignment itself, and platforms like WeVu help provide a nuanced solution to this problem. The software not only allows for students to see what happened and learn from their experiences but also provides an effective outlet for instructors to give students feedback throughout the learning process. The accessibility of the video for student reflection, peer feedback, instructor coaching, and assessment – plus the comments appearing at the right time and place on the video – makes it even more likely that we will see learning gains from the use of video for skills learning.