Keeping students attentive in the 21st century classroom is no easy feat. Sure, there’s the buzzword–“engagement”–that pervades education technology rhetoric, but what does engagement really look like, and how do teachers achieve it? For veteran educators Dotty Corbiere, a math specialist at Meadowbrook School in Weston, Massachusetts, and Rushton Hurley, founder of the non-profit organization Next Vista for Learning and a former high school Japanese language teacher and principal, the answer is video.
“[Video] captures attention and learning. You can’t learn anything unless you’re paying attention,” Hurley said.
Hurley’s organization, Next Vista for Learning, is an online resource for digital media that curates videos from “ordinary” students and teachers (providing they meet a specific set of guidelines), organizes them, and makes them available for free. Hurley believes that through watching videos created by their peers, students will be challenged to think critically about the strengths and weaknesses of each video and apply this knowledge to developing their own content, in addition to learning valuable subject matter.
Corbiere, whose students create Stop-Action Movies (SAM) Animation to depict everything from life cycles to math poetry videos, gives her classroom “total license” when it com
comes to putting together projects; as long as students map out their idea first, they can use any materials they like to make the content come to life.
“The kids love it … when they get going, they want to do their best. If that figure doesn’t come out right or that scene wasn’t quite perfect, they want to do it again,” she said.