UPDATE: (6th November, 2014) This is a developing presentation / workshop which I first gave at the JALT National Conference on October 14th, 2012. I will add further information from time to time, but for a selection of useful links and readings you can check this list at diigo.


I very much enjoyed presenting a workshop at the JALT National conference in Hamamatsu at the weekend. Over the last couple of years I have been working more and more on video projects with students, and in this presentation I reported on what I have developed so far. We started by talking about the various options available to teachers – pocket video cameras, traditional camcorders, mobile devices, webcams and so on. You can see a short video with examples here.

A Field Guide to Digital Video from darren elliott on Vimeo.

This checklist covers some of the factors to consider when choosing a camera and planning a project, and a few questions to ask yourself.

We then looked at some samples my students have created. Unfortunately, I can’t share them publicly online. But I can outline the project cycles we have undertaken.


This is the simplest activity. Student conversations, debates or presentations can be recorded for later analysis. This video transcription worksheet shows the kind of thing you can do. I usually change the questions each time depending on what we have been studying in class (and because familiarity breeds contempt!). One important point is to emphasise that students are not only looking for mistakes, but alternatives and improvements. Yes, I want them to use the third person -s accurately if possible, but I also want them to develop their communicative strategies.

How-To Videos

Taking the website videojug as our model, students create instructional videos. They start by watching videojug’s own video on how to make a video, and to .check the advice offered, then choose a video of their own for homework analysis.
Students then plan and shoot their own video. Some language input is obviously helpful.


As with the ‘How-to’ video’s, it is important to plan carefully. Using a Storyboard enables both you and the students to focus on your task clearly (and makes editing easier later). With drama activities, it is helpful for students to express their emotions. Method acting is interesting, but any activities about self expression, body language or emotion can be effective.

Sweded Movies

In the Michel Gondry film ‘Be Kind, Rewind‘, Jack Black and Mos Def have to remake every video in their video store after the tapes are accidentally wiped. This worked very well with my class using their iPhones and the free editing app Splice.


If you have a windows machine, you can use windows media software, and Macs have QuickTime. There are many other applications available. Jing works with both Macs and PCs, and is free to download and use.

One man who has done a lot of great work with screen capture software is Russell Stannard. His Teacher Training Videos website teaches teachers how to use technology for education.

Two ways in which I have used screencasts – to give feedback on student writing, and to have students teach each other how to use web based tools like prezi, google drive and so on.


Allow me the indulgence. You could do the same with your classes with lexical sets, of course.

fghijk from darren elliott on Vimeo.


Vimeo, for uploading video to share (password protected) with students.

Lipdub for beginners

wevideo online editing application

My previous blog posts about making student video.

A is for Ankylosaurus

How-to student video making

Watch Yourself

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4 Thoughts on “creating and using digital video with learners

  1. Matt Schaefer on October 16, 2012 at 10:25 pm said:

    Hi Darren,
    Really enjoyed your presentation – especially nice to see the obvious joy your students took in making their videos. You also gave me some ideas about how to improve my transcription forms.
    Just wondering if you had any suggestions for a good first video project, i.e. something easy and manageable to start off with – for both the students and for the teacher!

  2. Darren on October 17, 2012 at 8:00 pm said:

    Thanks Matt! I suppose the hardest part is editing, so something that avoids that would be better to start with. A one scene drama would be fine. The instructional videos are easier than the dramas, but you could just get them to do a show and tell using thier phones, ipods, ipads or digital cameras – a little weekend homework based on a common theme (‘my favourite restaurant’, for example), which they share in groups straight out of the camera on Monday. Perhaps with some peer feedback for language? Let me know if you come up with anything else!

  3. Hi, Darren! In this age of Vine and Instagram video and Youtube, making videos would be very fun to do in the classroom. There are so many possibilities you can do. I have asked my students to do parodies of commercials, TV shows and movies. You can ask them to do viral videos or news casts. Cheers to your post!

  4. Pingback: Beyond Television: Critically examining and creating new video genres with language learners | the lives of teachers

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