Delivering Content with your YouTube Channel
If you have ever heard me speak about technology within the realms of education or your personal life, then you know that I'm a big believer in the Simon Sinek's "Start with Why." Before taking the time to employ any tool within your educational space, make sure you understand why you are about to take the time and effort to do so. I believe that many teachers start with thoughts about what they are trying to accomplish rather than the deeper understanding of why they are trying to accomplish it in the first place. It is also important to know that the same tools can be used by educators and students who are starting with uniquely personal, yet completely valid reasons why.
This begs the question, why am I doing this in my classroom?
I want to HEAR my students.
I can still remember one of my college Professor's talking about how to truly assess the difficulties that students would have within mathematics instruction. His advice was something that I think translates well into so many areas of education as well as life in general. He said, "If I could have a conversation with every student and hear what they were trying to do with mathematics as they articulate their problem-solving attempt, I believe I could quickly identify many of the issues or errors in comprehension much quicker than I could by trying to 'read between the lines' of their written work. In addition, I also want to be able to enjoy the presentations that my students deliver in the classroom to their peers. Requiring students to submit a prerecorded presentation allows me to actually assess the content on my own time rather than trying to do so in the middle of their delivery.
I want my students to HEAR me.
Furthermore, I recall how difficult reading Shakespeare's Hamlet was the first time I attempted it in high school. It wasn't until our class took a field trip to watch the play that I began to realize what was really happening on the pages in front of me. Some would argue that this could be attributed to the language used and my inability to decode and comprehend the vocabulary used in Shakespeare's writing, but as soon as the actors began to deliver the same vocabulary in a live setting, the additional context, visual cues, and inflection helped me see past the Elizabethan English and into the deeper meaning presented.
I want to FLIP the classroom experience.
Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams are, by their own account, incorrectly credited with creating the "Flipped Classroom" method of teaching. They argue that it has been around for centuries. In a nutshell, flipping the classroom is based on the idea that lectures are delivered as homework and homework is done during the class period. Some of the positive aspects of this teaching method is that students will be surrounded by peers and can work collaboratively to solve problems and discuss issues. It also allows them to tackle such problems and discussions with an expert in the room... you. I would argue that my English professor in high school was flipping his classroom when he assigned the reading of Hamlet for outside of class so that we could discuss it during the class. Today flipping the classroom can be done in a lot of ways, but now that recording and publishing video has become a routine task, the idea has exploded into classrooms around the country.
I want to provide "Just in Time" teaching.
To put it simply, I want students to have access to my lectures and thoughts on their time. Hopefully it will be just in time to help them as they try to wrap their heads around a new concept.
There are numerous ways that I could attempt to accomplish the goals I have listed above. I have personally chosen to go with video delivery. Notice that I'm not talking about products here. There are so many products, apps, and services that would be able to handle the task that I can't even begin to start listing them. I personally want to be able to record something and have the flexibility to publish it publicly or privately for others to view it on my LMS course page, in an email, on a website, embedded or simply through a shared hyperlink. I want to be able to do it on my own without relying on someone else to operate equipment or edit with software. I want to be able to do it quickly. I don't want to worry about whether the service or app that I'm using is going to be shut down or rendered obsolete in two weeks.
YouTube (Delivering the Content)
When people speak about online video, they say the word YouTube. Even if the video is hosted by a different site, YouTube has become synonymous with medium in the same way that a slide presentation is referred to as a PowerPoint or a facial tissue is referred to as a Kleenex.
I choose it because it simply works on everything. It allows you to upload as much video content as you want. It is free, and it allows you to curate your own channel as well as playlists of yours and other creator's videos. Your videos can be public, unlisted or private. You can download them as .MP4s and it even has the ability to help Close Caption your content.
Screencastify (Recording the Content)
There are a lot of apps and software that will let you record content. In a pinch, you can do it with nothing more than a smartphone or tablet. However, when it comes to screencasting, I usually recommend Screencastify. The only reason I recommend it first is because it can be used on a Mac, PC, or a Chromebook. Because so many schools are issuing chromebooks to students, it is important that the app be something they can actually use on that device. Screencastify is the only one I know of that doesn't require any installation. Instead it is an extension for the Google Chrome Web Browser. You can purchase it or use the free version and videos can be either saved to your local computer, saved in Google Drive, or uploaded directly to YouTube.
Wacom Intuos Pen Tablet (Handwriting Tool)
If you have ever watched a video on Khan Academy, then I'm sure you've seen the next two entries as a demo. Because I don't have a touchscreen device, and because I also have to write a lot of equations and problems out in mathematics, having a something I can write digitally with is essential. The Wacom tablet is used extensively by graphic designers and artists, but I use simply to write things on the screen. Other options that I'm interested in are the iPad Pro and the Microsoft Surface. I lean toward the surface because it would also let me use the same screen recording software I already use, but I'm sure the iPad has some options for doing the same thing built in or with another app.
MS Paint (Handwriting Surface)
Truth be told, I use Smart Notebook as my handwriting tool only because I have a subscription to it because I teach extensively with Smart Boards. MS Paint is the tool of choice for Khan Academy because of its cost. You can actually use any software that allows you to "draw" but why spend money on something if you can do it for free.
Logitech Webcam (C615 HD)
Most laptops have a camera built in, but the reason I chose the Logitech is that it allows me position it separately from my computer display. Additionally, I believe that the audio is the most important part of the screen cast. The C615 is actually a pretty good microphone as well. Otherwise, I think you will always be better off using a dediated microphone like the Blue Yeti or the Blue "Snowball"