Use Cell Phone Videos to Make Instructional Hooks


Look closely. No, not at Jason Aldean, the country music superstar. Look at the crowd. What do you notice?

In a quick count, I see more than 70 lights from cell phones, let alone my own as I took this picture and probably hundreds behind me in the crowd. This really caught me as a wow moment for education as I was singing along last night to ‘Night Train’ at the top of my lungs. (and yes, I’m a big education nerd and was thinking about this during the concert)

Many of these cameras were taking pictures, but the wow moment for me was seeing all of the videos being taken, being sent to friends and family, and being streamed live online, capturing a somewhat typical experience but now using videos instead of just pictures.

The wow moment made me think of our current reality of video and how fast it is changing life for our teachers and students. You could be watching this concert in Virginia live online while sitting in your living room across the globe in Thailand. You also have the option now to take high quality video with your cell phone, something people now can’t part with for more than a few minutes.

The opportunity to take & use video is greater now than any time in human history!

What does this mean for our future in education?    How can we capitalize on this technology?

kristof-tiananmen-videoSixteenByNine1050Consider something as profound as the “Tank Man” who temporarily stopped a column of tanks in Tienanmen Square in 1989. This was not that long ago, and yet consider just how drastically different this would have played out if everyone around the event had cell phones that could take video? Many educators have used this picture during their lessons, but think how teachers could have used video of this for their students and how riveting it would have been.

But not everyone has smartphones though, right? Well, not all, but we are getting close!

64% of all adults own smartphones, but that bumps up to 85% for adults 18-29. *

67% of all smartphone owners use their phone to share pictures, videos, or commentary about events happening in their community. *

Based on these statistics, many of our current teachers, and almost all of our younger teachers now have the opportunity and skills to regularly use video that they capture in their daily lives for instruction.

I took quick video today with my cell phone as an example:


How could you use this video?

  • A literal demonstration on the need for a pilot hole in construction.
  • A metaphor for leadership and how helpful a single pilot can be to pave the way before the group goes forward.
  • To explain how the right tools affect how successful you will be in life.

But let’s be clear, I’m not writing about flipped learning. This is all about the relatively new ability of taking video of daily experiences and using them to enhance lessons. 

These videos can be almost boring or routine like filling your tank at the gas stationgroceries being scanned at the register, or watching the garbage truck compact your trash. But if you start looking closely, you also may just possibly capture video of something that was really special and unique.

We live in an age where most of our students take for granted how the world works around them. Use this to your advantage to have them reflect and have a deep conversation about it.

Use your phones and maximize this resource you already have to create new amazing instructional hooks. This will increase the engagement of your audience, build interest, and give perspective of the world around them.

Oh, and if you take a video at a concert, don’t be surprised when your own singing voice doesn’t sound as good as you thought it would…

Click to Tweet the Takeaway: “Use your cell phones to take videos for amazing instructional hooks!”
Tweet: Use your cell phones to take videos for amazing instructional hooks!

(1) Pew Research Center American Trends Panel survey, October, 2014 

Posted in Instructional Tips, Professional Development