The Art of teaching through Video

With over 60 hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every minute (Bullas, 2015) it is becoming more and more important for educators to find ways of filtering the content their students engage with. It is one thing to show a video to a class, but it is another thing entirely if that video is artful and inspiring. Such videos operate on a meta level, using creativity to teach creativity. Having worked as the Content Producer for the Song Room’s ARTS:LIVE, I experimented with new ways of teaching students about the arts, through the art of video. This included using a variety of video styles to engage learners, such as:

Without showing examples, it can be difficult to distinguish between the various styles. Schwartz and Hartman (2007) break similar video styles down using the simple framework of ‘Engaging, saying, doing and seeing’.


In each style of video the emphasis is on a different mode of engagement. ‘Documentary Style Video’, or what Schwartz and Hartman refer to as ‘Saying’ videos, have been used in teaching and learning settings for many years and do not necessarily innovate the practice of video to new levels of interaction. Pea and Lindgren (2008) acknowledge that, “with the development of more learner-centered pedagogy, uses of video are expanding from teachers simply showing videos to students to approaches where learners interact with, create, or comment on video resources as part of their knowledge-building activities” (p. 1). Such innovations in style are more easily understood through ‘Instructional’, ‘Interactive’ or ‘Dramatic’ videos.


In ‘Instructional Videos’, interactivity and engagement are often incorporated through ‘doing’, which encompasses the use of live action or a demonstration (e.g. dance, dramatic re-enactment, a science experiment or cooking activity). Schwartz and Hartman state that, “video is ideal for presenting human behaviors. There are two quite different sub-classes of “doing outcomes” – those involving attitude and those involving skills” (2007, p. 12). The following screen shots are taken from a series of videos produced by Xmachine Productions for The Song Room’s (TSR) ARTS:LIVE, a teaching and learning platform with free resources aligned to the Australian Curriculum: The Arts. As demonstrated in Figure 1, regardless of the educators’ attitude, ability or skill level in dance, the educator and the learners can mimic the movements of the ‘on-screen’ dance teacher seen in Figure 2.

The use of multimedia in learning environments is made possible by advances in projection-based technologies, allowing teachers to broadcast videos in full size. On-screen text also enhances the learning experience. According to Mayer (2005) in his multimedia-learning principle, student understanding can be enhanced by the addition of non-verbal knowledge representations to verbal explanations (p. 2). Furthermore, the use of written instructions on screen (Figure 2) supports a variety of learning styles including visual learners (Coffield et al., 2004).


Schwartz and Hartman state, “to achieve the outcome of doing, one also needs to target the outcome of seeing” (2007, p. 13). In this instance, students interact with the video in a number of ways. Using a simple teaching strategy within the video, such as watch and repeat or copy the action, not only supports a range of learning styles including kinesthetic and auditory learners, but effectively fosters new modes of engagement.

However, in the convention of ‘seeing’, similar to those used in or through ‘Dramatic Episodes’, the learners engage with the learning content the video provides. In the examples shown in Figure 3 and Figure 4, the Media Arts activity ‘Genrenators’ utilises the same script to re-enact identical scenes, ‘showing’ the implication of changes in genre upon the elements of media including lighting, sound, costume, performance and set. In this instance, “videos can be used to contextualize learning and problem solving” (Schwartz & Hartman, 2007, p. 11).


To an extent, these videos straddle the line between engaging and interacting. Increasingly however, young people have come to accept and expect learning and interactivity in a range of multimedia, including television, animations and games (Prensky, 2006). To this end, ‘Interactive Videos’ have the capacity to ‘gamify’ the viewing experience directly at the time of viewing, asking students to: ‘spot the difference’ or ‘find the faults’. Schwartz and Hartman label these videos ‘engaging’ and state that one method of engagement uses video as a trigger to set the stage for subsequent discussion (2007, p. 11). In the instance of Figure 5, the learners experience the video by engaging and responding alongside it. Students are asked to look for the mistakes and report back to their teacher and/or class.

In all of these instances the pedagogical strategies used within the videos align closely with the content knowledge and technological knowledge. Effectively, in teaching various art forms, the videos favor pedagogical practices from within and across the arts, including the use of narrative conventions, storytelling, genre manipulation and documentary filmmaking. This begs one to consider whether these learning experiences are limited to the arts and, more importantly, if such strategies can be lifted to suit a range of learning areas.

A big shout out to all involved in the above works including The Song Room staff,Xmachine Productions cast and crew, ATOM (Vic) content authors and the amazing Song Room Teaching Artists, teachers and students.

Special thanks to Annie Carney for her editorial assistance.


Bullas, J. (2015) 35 Mind Numbing YouTube Facts, Figures and Statistics – Infographic. Retrieved from:

Mayer, R., & Moreno, R. (2007). ‘Interactive Multimodal Learning Environments’, Education Psychology, Revision 19: 309–326.

Pea, R., & Lindgren, R. (2008). Video Collaboratories for Research and Education: An Analysis of Collaboration Design Patterns IEEE Transactions on Learning technologies, Vol. 1, No. 4, Oct – Dec 2008, 235

Prensky, M. (2006). Don’t Bother Me Mom – I’m Learning! St. Paul, Minnesota: Paragon House.

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