Using Video Regularly to improve AFL

I’ve recently been the grateful recipient of a Jooby Gorillapod. No, it’s better than the name suggests – it’s a really, really useful tripod for the iPhone. But, more than this, the unique way it’s designed means that you can pretty much attach or mount the iPhone anywhere!

So what have I been using it for? Aside from my ongoing quest to create Charlie-Brooker-esque theory videos for ICT and Computing (still a quest unfortunately, can’t get the sound right!); I’ve found this a real turning point in my use of video in the classroom.

It sounds silly, but having the ability to stick my iPhone anywhere and leave it recording is having myriad benefits to my own pedagogy as well as Student achievement. This has happened, quite naturally, from my adoption of setting up the Gorillpod and letting it record – just getting used to having it running in the classroom without putting on a show for it.

Step two was forcing myself to actually go back and review those recordings. Yes, in some respect watching a lesson back that you have just taught is a little like living in Groundhog day – but you get to see yourself as a teacher practising your craft – just as the students would see you. From there you’ll already be acutely aware of the flaws and limitations in your delivery; are you going too fast? Do you have any annoying habits? Are you missing behaviour events right in front of your nose?

Step 3 was in brining it into the student realm and using it to record their responses to questioning, peer reviews and discussions. After the initial novelty wears off there’s a strong motivating factor in having a recording of their responses for future reference. Students seem to take the exercises more seriously and having the footage to refers back to is golden.

Referring back can take a number of forms: You could use it as reference material, you could splice together peer reviews from different parts of a project to allow students to better visualise their progress; and you could use it as a whole class activity to dissect and critique learning styles.

Pushing metacognition (understanding your own thinking) as an important skill, Students can take what they have previously said and work on strategies for improvement. Peers will be much nicer in reviewing students responses than a student will be to themselves!

The fantastic thing about all of this is that after building up a bank of recordings, we can measure the improvement of students and genuinely see if their metalearning skills are improving their performance.

Why use video?

Student engagement, achievement and understanding of their own learning process increases as long as you use the video in lesson and don’t just archive it never to be seen again. Students even watch each others videos cross curricularly, building up a mass of skills that they can improve upon.

Teachers get to see themselves teach. Yes, it might be cringe worthy, but try and push past this and critique yourself – your practice can only benefit from it.

Top Tips

The biggest tip I’ve got for you: don’t make it an enormous effort. If you have to go too far out of your way to make it regular classroom practice then after the initial fun has worn off you’ll stop using it. The key is to pop a camera somewhere, record the lesson, not be too precious about the quality of the footage and then actually go to the trouble of using the video later

Case study

GCSE Computing (Year 10)

The group were due to study the differences between open source and proprietary software, as well as bespoke and off-the-shelf software. Rather than leading a didactic lesson I simply covered the basics and set them a debating challenge.

I got them all excited and enthusiastic with some examples of good and bad debates (from the archives of iOS vs Android and XBox vs PlayStation) and set them in teams to prepare to argue why their topic was best.

I recorded the debates using the iPhone attached to one of the mounted speakers in the corner of the room. The debates were great, passioned, reasoned arguments with some innovative and interesting arguments.

The real positive came in the next lesson where we reviewed the recordings, critiqued the performance, questioned the factual accuracy of the statements made and then, finally, made a series of Cornell notes on the topic covered.

Students not only researched for themselves on this unit, but had an impetus to be experts in their subject (to win the debate) and built on their metacognitive skills in analysing the debate word-for word.


Give it a go! You don’t need any fancy equipment, just something that records video and the impetus to use that recording in the classroom. I’m sure many of you already use video in a similar way; I just found the key to me using it regularly and successfully was in not making it a chore!