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Oct 22, 2021

The Vast Impact Large-Scale Video Creation Can Have on School Districts

Robert Barnett
President & Co-Founder of Modern Classrooms Project

If you’re recording screencast videos for your students, I’m willing to bet you’re a bit of an innovator. An adventurer, maybe, or a visionary. Or, as Steve Jobs might have said, one of the crazy ones. You’re probably, like I was, “that teacher who teaches using those videos.”

But what if a school, or a community, or even a whole district thought differently? What if the leaders of a large educational institution looked at all the ways that technology has improved our lives over the past 100 years, and decided to invest wholeheartedly in making similar improvements in their classrooms? 

What would the experiences of their students and teachers look like then?

Fortunately, this question isn’t purely hypothetical. There are lots of examples of how schools innovate with technology, particularly in charter schools like Rocketship, independent schools like Khan Lab School, and small school districts like Bellwood-Antis.

Educators in these schools are doing incredible work to push both their students, and the larger projects of teaching and learning, forward. (Learn more about how schools like these innovate in our episode of EdTech Heroes below.)

Embracing change on a large scale

There are few districts that have tried to embrace change on as large a scale as has Halton District School Board (HDSB) in Ontario, Canada. And the scale of HDSB’s change has been quite impressive: last year, in a district serving

Here’s what you need to know about HDSB: the district serves 64,000 students in Southern Ontario, and last school year, 21,000 video creators recorded over 425,000 screencast videos.

Stop for a minute and think about what 425,000+ screencasts mean (assuming that most of these screencasts are video lessons of some kind, although some might also be student projects or assignment submissions.) To me, this means:

  • 🔁 425,000+ lessons don’t need to be repeated. If the average video is 5 minutes long, this saves HDSB teachers over 35,000 hours of teaching time, each year!  They can spend this time supporting students one-on-one, or engaging with small groups, or leading their classes in fun, collaborative activities.
  • 💻 425,000+ lessons can be accessed from anywhere, at any time. Even before COVID, a significant proportion of HDSB students were frequently absent. Imagine what a help it will be to these students -- and to their families -- when all the instruction they need to learn is just one click away!  
  • 💯 425,000+ lessons will build authentic mastery. A traditional teacher-at-the-board lesson inevitably fails to engage many learners: some are behind (and lost), some are ahead (and bored), some are distracted (and unfocused), and some just aren’t there (and falling further behind). But videos aren’t like that! Students can watch videos at their own pace, when they are ready, and rewind/rewatch until they truly understand.  

Screencasting made simple

And here’s the best part — screencasts are not hard to make! HDSB didn’t need to overhaul its entire system to create these results. Instead, it only needed to:

  1. Provide its teachers simple tools, like Screencastify.
  2. Offer its teachers research-backed training, like the Modern Classrooms Project’s Free Online Course or Virtual Mentorship Program.
  3. Sit back and watch the magic happen.

Think this approach can work in your district? Give it a shot — and let us know how it goes!

Related: Read our guide to self-paced classrooms!

Robert Barnett
President & Co-Founder of Modern Classrooms Project

Robert Barnett is President and Co-Founder of Modern Classrooms Project. He has taught math, computer science, entrepreneurship, Theory of Knowledge, English, and law at the secondary and post-secondary levels.