Five Tips for Creating Effective Zaption Lessons

If you’re just getting started with Zaption, here are some ideas to consider as you create your first lessons.

By Jim Stigler, Co-Founder

1. Start with the Learning Goal

Teaching is a goal directed activity, or at least it should be. Whenever you start to design a lesson, it’s best to ask yourself: what do I want students to learn from this lesson? The same thing goes for a Zaption interactive video lesson. Think about where you are going to use the lesson: is it as an in-class activity, or a homework assignment? Will it be followed by an in-class discussion, or does it need to stand on its own? Then try writing down what you want students to take away from the lesson, and keep that in mind as you design your lesson.

2. Video is Key

Zaption is designed to support learning from video. So, picking the right video is most of the work in creating an effective lesson. YouTube is filled with amazing video, and you probably have some good stuff on your own hard drive too. So, take some time to find the video clips that will best support students to learn what you want them to learn. As a rule of thumb, 80% of the effectiveness of your lesson should come from just watching the video clips you selected; the rest will come from the elements you add (more on this next). And remember: Zaption makes it easy to trim clips to just the part you want to include (use the settings icon on the video window).

3. Use Elements Sparingly

It doesn’t take a lot of elements to make a great lesson. In fact, if you find yourself adding too many elements, or too many words on the elements, there’s a good chance that you haven’t found the right video clips yet, and that you are expecting the elements to carry too much weight. In designing where to add elements, watch the video clips you have selected from the students point of view - put yourself in their position. Then, as you watch, ask yourself: what I could put here that would enhance the students’ learning experience? Sometimes it could be as simple as a pause, or a hint, or a question to ponder. This can make all the difference.

4. Using Text Slides

Text slides (which can be placed either over the video window or in the sidebar) have a place in almost any lesson, and they can serve various functions. Of course you might start your lesson with a title slide. But text slides can do a lot more than that. They can prepare students for something they are about to see in the video (making it more likely that they will see it); they can shape what students look at while watching the video, in real time; and they can summarize (after the fact) key things the student should have just seen in the video. The best text slides have very few words, relying on the context of the video to make their meaning clear.

5. Questions

Questions are probably the most important elements you can add, and Zaption has several kinds of questions: text response, multiple choice, check all that apply, and numerical answers. Of course you can use questions at the end to test comprehension after the fact. But often the best effects will come from questions you add earlier in the lesson, questions that can actually improve learning by changing students’ interactions with the video. Like text slides, a good question can prepare the student for what is to come by activating prior knowledge. It can also engage students more directly by getting them to relate their own experience to that depicted in the video. And, simple multiple choice questions can give students practice retrieving key information they have seen in the video. But remember: not too many questions; keep the main focus on the video.

We’ll be learning a lot from Zaption users about how to make the best lessons; these are just some initial ideas. If you create an effective lesson, share it in the Zaption Gallery so we all can learn from it.


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