Video is an effective educational tool, and teachers can use it to engage their students, make learning more interactive, and improve learning retention.
But one of the most significant benefits of using video in the classroom is that it helps prepare students for life after school.
In this episode of EdTech Heroes, host Nef Dukes welcomes Renee Dawson, an EdTech specialist at Long Middle School. They chat about using Twitter to network with other EdTech specialists, why practice makes permanent, and how to "gamify" the learning experience.
👋 Name: Renee Dawson
👩🏫 What she does: She is an EdTech specialist at Long Middle School.
🏫 Company: Long Middle School
✍️ Noteworthy: Renee has been in the education field since 16 years. Formerly a special education teacher, she has taught in elementary, middle, and high school settings and has also worked with students in hospital and in-home environments. She has also worked extensively with students with a variety of disabilities and assistive technology needs.
📱Where to find Renee: Twitter
Practice doesn't make perfect; it makes it permanent. Unlearning something is often harder than learning. That's why it's essential to make sure that your students do their assignments correctly.
That's where video comes in. Renee says, "[As a] special education teacher, I'm giving an assignment for my students to practice. I don't want to risk the chance that they might do it wrong 10 or 20 times, and then we have to teach it and reteach it.
So, video is crucial to me — as a special education teacher — as a way for kids to quickly review. [...] So that's one of the most important things for me with video — making sure that my viewers understand how to do things, go slowly, and have the opportunity to pause and rewind if they need to."
Video helps prepare students for the real world. One of the greatest benefits of using video in education is that it prepares students for real life.
Renee explains, "They really took responsibility and stepped up to the plate, and they're better students for it now. And they're prepared for the future because, in real life, most bosses don't sit over your shoulder and tell you what to do every second of the day.
You have to have some self-regulation. So if I’m giving a child a playlist, I'm saying that you have until the end of the week to get through with this, and they take that ownership — that's preparing them for real life."
Gamify the learning experience. Gamifying the learning experience is the best way to make learning fun and effective. It gives students an opportunity to use their knowledge in practice while having fun at the same time.
Renee explains, "I'm a huge fan of gamified learning. So the last one I did, before I left the classroom, was Jumanji-themed, and I was the NPC that was going to lead them through the jungle. So they had a few instructions and videos of me talking and leading them to the next level. They would get different badges when they finish each level to make it even more fun for them and more similar to what they enjoy doing in their spare time anyway.
So if you give them something that's on a game board or with a badge, they're into it. [...] There's a website called flippity where you can actually enter it all into a Google sheet, and it makes the game board for you. It's pretty magical."
For more tips on keeping students engaged, check out this episode of EdTech Heroes with Olivia Nelson!👇
Twitter is a great networking tool for edtech specialists 🐣
"I get so many great ideas from other EdTech educators or different ambassadors to different groups of software, and there's always something on Twitter to share, follow, try out yourself, or shed light on to say, 'Oh, I do it like this so maybe you should try it this way,' or 'You're having trouble with this, try this extension or this app.' So it's definitely like a big PLN that's worldwide, and anywhere you look, you could find somebody who's an expert at what you're trying to figure out."
Technology for special education students 🎬
"Technology can be used in any way with any student. I've always found it as a way to kind of level the playing field for my special education students — to give them that leg up. We all see the equity posters with the boxes — to give that kid the right-sized box they need to see over the fence, if you want to look at it that way. That's always what technology has been for my students, whether they were special needs or came from a non-English speaking home or whatever the situation was."
Learning while playing Minecraft 🛠
"I'm also a big fan of ‘If you can't beat them at something, join them.’ So I am a Minecraft global mentor because we had a major Minecraft problem at my middle school. And I figured out that if I taught the teachers how to use Minecraft for education and where to get the plans (because I have hundreds of lessons on every subject), they just download the world, get the kids in the Minecraft world, and then, the kids are actually playing Minecraft and learning at the same time."
[03:04] "Networking is huge in education. I don't think I realized how big of a space Twitter was for it until I got into the EdTech game this year. I thought Twitter was kind of old news, we’d moved on to something, but no, Twitter is where it's at for EdTech education."
[10:07] "I wanted to make sure my kids felt successful and could be successful; however, they needed to do their homework. And if that means that they just take a little piece of me home on video, then that's fine with me."
[27:57] "Try to make it look like you're teaching, try to act like you're teaching a class. That's how I always find it easiest — if I just imagine I'm teaching. I've been doing that since I was a little girl. I used to come home from school and line all my stuffed animals up and teach them my homework, so that's just natural to me. I've always wanted to be a teacher."