Must-have video tools for education

Creating your video production studio for education is about to get easier.
Molly McCracken
May 28, 2020

Has video become a more regular part of your teaching routine?

Given the shift to learning at home, we expect most of you are nodding right now.

From discussions over conference calls to individual student feedback, videos serve to combine relevant content with emotions, body language, and intent; the aspects of communication we miss out on so often when we’re apart.

Although educators are used to facing students each and every day, many of us are not as practiced in front of a camera.

And why would we be? NCES data from 2017-2018 shows that, across all U.S. K-12 schools, only 19.2% offered an entirely-online course. Now, the majority of us are forced into fully-online or blended learning scenarios.

Fortunately, there are some wonderful tools that can help make movie-making magic for you and your students.

We’ll share our top software picks and favorite gadgets for crafting videos in your “home studio.”

Teacher waving to her students via webcam

Top Software Picks

Screen recording

Loom

What is it? A tool to quickly grab a screen share from any device. Loom is lauded for its simple interface, and you can overlay shared screen content with your voice, video, and drawing.

Why we love it? Loom is straightforward and easy to use. Plus, it’s free for educators due to COVID-19!

Need help getting started? Read Loom’s guide for educators here.

Screencastify

What is it? A tool to quickly grab a screen recording that offers similar features to Loom.

Why we love it? Screencastify offers lower-cost pricing plans than Loom and can save videos at a higher quality.

Need help getting started? Take a look at Screencastify for Education.

Video editing

Adobe Spark

What is it? An always free-for-education app to make quick videos at ease.

Why we love it? On top of being a great tool, their educator-driven lesson plans offer a constantly growing and changing library of interactive video activities.

Need help getting started?
Monica Burns, who runs the Class Tech Tips blog, put together an Adobe Spark getting started guide for educators.

Interactive Presentation Decks

Nearpod or Pear Deck

 

What are they? Both Nearpod and Pear Deck offer creative ways to make your slide decks way more interactive and engaging for students.

Why we love them? Both tools are fantastic in different ways, you really need to base your decision off of the type of presentations and interactions you’re looking for. The debate on which tool to use never fails to spark passion in educators who use them. We’ll link to the Common Sense review for both Pear Deck and Nearpod, so you can make the most informed choice.

Need help getting started? Both platforms offer extensive getting started resources. Nearpod has a variety of on-demand resources as well as live webinars to give you a tour. Pear Deck has a getting started guide.

Video assessments

Flipgrid

 

What is it? A video communication enabling teachers to invite students to respond to questions and prompts with ease.

Why we love it? The global Flipgrid community is constantly coming up with creative new ways to use this product. A quick scroll through Flipgrid's Twitter and you’ll quickly find dozens of new ways to use this tool, tried and tested by real educators.

Need help getting started? Flipgrid has put together everything you need to get started quickly here. For resources specific to remote learning, head here.

EdPuzzle

What is it? Crop and customize any online video content into teaching material. Add your own content and quiz students at various checkpoints in the video.

Why we love it? EdPuzzle allows you to use existing web content that you already love but customize it to your needs. You can record your voice to explain complexities or customize the content and embed questions and problems at different points to check for understanding.

Need help getting started? Browse EdPuzzle’s ”Getting Started” resources here.

Video portfolio

Spaces

 

What is it? A digital space for capturing evidence of learning in multiple media forms, communicating feedback, and connecting with family.

How to use it? For daily check-ins have students post short videos showing what they learned from the day. For a final video capstone project have students track their progress in a Spaces account. Each checkpoint (daily, weekly, etc.) have students upload their work on a video project and use the student feed to see how the project improves over time.

Need help getting started? Get everything you need to get started right here.

 

Top Equipment Recommendations

Teacher making a video at home

Making authentic content with whatever tools you have is the most important piece of a good educational video.

However, if you’re really getting into video making, looking to share with a broader audience (like other teachers), or just want to step up your game, you may want to invest in some cool tools for your home studio.

Our built-in webcams and microphones are fine for video calls, but they aren’t designed for higher-quality productions. Here are some tools to consider (either for yourself or a gift for the video-loving educator in your life):

HD Webcam or DSLR Camera

If you’re making several videos where you speak directly to students using your webcam, such as feedback videos, upgrading your webcam to improve video quality will make a significant difference. With a higher quality camera, students will better be able to pick your facial expressions and gestures to help with understanding.

We don’t have a brand recommendation but you should look for a webcam or camera that supports 1080p or higher for best results.

Tripod or Gooseneck Phone Holder

If you don’t have the luxury of two screens or you’re trying to whip up quick videos on your phone, this is for you. Use a tripod or gooseneck phone holder to position your smartphone or webcam exactly where you want it for the video and capture your selfie footage hands-free.

Microphone

Audio quality is so critical in online learning, your microphone is the first upgrade you should consider. Getting a podcast quality microphone for around $100 will drastically improve the quality of your videos. This is the one I've used for recording professional-grade audio in the past.

Pop Filter

Pop filters are microphone add-ons that help cut down on the ‘pops’ that get picked up when recording audio on certain words and letters. They are optional for the every-day educator, absolutely, but make a world of difference on webinars, podcasts, and any digital recording. Learn more about pop filters here.

Ring Light

Your favorite Instagram influencers and brands use ring lights to get the perfect selfie. If you’re struggling with the lighting in your home or just want to ‘glam’ up your look when on video calls all day, invest in a ring light and bask in the glow of confidence. Here’s the ring light our team recommends.

Molly McCracken

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