No Fuss Video

Ever since video became readily available with the advent of the VCR, educators have been clamoring for easier ways to integrate the medium into the classroom. Today, thanks to broadband access and ever-expanding offerings, engaging students with high-quality video has never been easier.

What: Video-on-demand (VOD) services provide bite-size video clips streamed or downloaded from the Internet. In a middle school social studies/language arts lesson about immigration, for example, students could log on to the History Channel to view a short video segment about the Statue of Liberty. Likewise, teachers could access videos from that address issues surrounding the teaching of immigration.

Who: Any classroom equipped with a computer and Internet access can use VOD. Bandwidth is critical: schools must have fast and reliable broadband access to use video at an optimum level.

A video course for K-8 teachers can be streamed on demand.

When: In the classroom, a video segment can be used at the beginning of a lesson to spark discussion, motivate curiosity, and provide instruction; throughout class to highlight various points; or at the end of a lesson to review the material.

Where: Beyond the obvious classroom uses, students might view clips as part of a research assignment in the computer lab or library. The advantage of this approach is that students can learn at their own pace, taking time to review videos as needed. Schools with laptop programs can encourage students to access designated streamed video content in study halls, library periods, and after school.

Why: Video can take your students places, from the far side of our galaxy to the bottom of the ocean, with rich material that supports visual learners. A Corporation for Public Broadcasting report concluded video "reinforces text-based material, appeals to multiple learning styles, increases student engagement, and has a positive effect on teaching." (

How: Following are some tips for getting the most out of VOD in your classroom.

  • Always preview the video prior to using in class. Download the video segments prior to screening if possible to obviate any possible bandwidth issues.
  • Allow students to ask questions during whole-class screenings; pause the video at any point to highlight certain aspects and check for comprehension.
  • Provide vocabulary lists, worksheets, and previewing and post-viewing activities (Discovery Education's unitedstreaming provides blackline masters specifically for this purpose).
  • Keep in mind that a projector or interactive whiteboard can add value to VOD. Project directly on a chalkboard or a whiteboard. Pause the video and let students pick out salient details, label parts, or trace vectors of moving objects.
  • Use video editing software such as Apple iMovie to have students edit clips and combine them with their own footage. The permission to use video clips in this way is granted on selected material from unitedstreaming.
  • Take advantage of the video playlist feature when it's available to create customized archives of content.

Al Doyle is an educator, technology coordinator, and designer.

The Screening Room

The following video sources scratch the surface of what's available today.

Commercial Services

Clearvue & SVE's (recently acquired by Discovery Education): Offers thousands of educational videos and video clips.

Discovery Education's unitedstreaming: Provides standards-aligned video content that can be searched by curriculum standard, keyword, subject area, and grade; also offered are quiz, assignment, and writing prompt builders.

New Dimension Media CCC!: This fee-based service lets teachers search for video content correlated to state standards.

NoWaitMedia: A video content delivery system especially suited for online training for computer applications.

Safari Montage: The Library Video Company provides a server preloaded with a collection of licensed content from PBS, Scholastic, and other award-winning video producers.

Vbrick Systems: The VBEducast kit allows schools to set up live streaming video, and the WM Network Video Appliance is a server-based solution for video streaming.

Free Video

Annenberg Media: has searchable video titles, including professional development targeted to specific subjects.

The History Channel: Offers a sizeable number of searchable streaming video segments.

NOVA Science Now: Features expertly crafted video segments culled from NOVA broadcasts.