Skip Navigation

Golden rules for using clips in class

Camera men and equipment silhouetted against a red sky

Clips and shorter videos are an invaluable tool that allow teachers to extend the viewing experience beyond the screen. With the right level of planning and organisation, clips can facilitate an interactive classroom session and leave passive viewing behind.

Much of the recent research into the use of video in education highlights the importance of what is referred to as ‘adult mediation’. In other words, it is widely agreed that the learning value of video is greatly enhanced when the teacher effectively integrates clips into the curriculum and the flow of the lesson.

The term appears time and time again and offers teachers a set of golden rules to follow when using clips in the classroom. These golden rules can be divided into the following three stages:

  1. Previewing
    – Determine a clear purpose for the clip, outline how it relates to the topic you are studying.
    – Set clear viewing aims, this could be asking students to focus on specific questions or take notes on important points that they identify in the clip.
  2. During viewing
    – Don’t be afraid to pause and ask questions throughout, make sure your students are not ‘switching off’!
    – Pause and flag up or expand on important points in the clip.
  3. Post viewing
    – Solidify concepts that students have learnt by facilitating a post viewing discussion, either as a whole class or by dividing students into smaller groups.
    – Put what they have learnt into practice by providing students with follow up activities or worksheets that connect to the clip.

For these guidelines to be effective, however, you need the right clip. It has to make a significant impact and engage students in a short amount of time. Below are some examples and tips on how to find the best clip for your subject:

For science, clips can be particularly useful when needing to demonstrate complex concepts. These BBC Bitesize clips of chemical reactions and tests help to engage students and increase their interest because they demystify difficult concepts and bridge the gap between an abstract idea and its practical application:

For geography, clips are thought to be most useful when they take students on otherwise impossible ‘school trips’. These clips from Expedition Volcano on BBC Two transport the classroom to one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes in the Congo, putting learning into context and giving students a greater sense of place with sound and images:

Whilst factual accuracy is incredibly important, history related clips need to bring the subject to life for students as they will often be studying time periods that are far removed from the world they live in today. By outlining key aspects of every day life in Ancient Egypt with real artefacts and examples, these clips from BBC Two Life and Death in the Valley of the Kings will engage students by taking them back in time:

Clips can encourage critical thinking in English literature when they allow students to explore alternative interpretations of key moments in classic texts. These ‘cut-up’ speeches on the BBC Four Arena website allow students to explore various performances of two of Shakespeare’s biggest speeches from Hamlet and Macbeth:

Clips for languages will be significantly less effective if they are over complicated or difficult to understand. The BBC has news sites in Spanish and French – BBC Mundo and BBC Afrique. The clips on both are perfect for the classroom as they are clear, concise and often accompanied by on screen text. They explore topics relating to the countries’ societies and current affairs that could spark discussions in class: