The Power of Video

Posted on Posted in General
“With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” - Uncle Ben, Spiderman

Video is an incredibly powerful tool. In the last 10 years, we’ve seen it revolutionize instruction (Khan academy, MOOC’s), creative class projects (iMovie), teacher video coaching (Swivl), assessment and now it’s starting to change moderated education discussions for exploring topics and checking for understanding.

Video is an ideal outlet for creativity. For capturing what actually happened in an objective manner. For communicating with clarity and emotion, including intent. And for practicing speaking skills. All unequivocally great things.

But as we continue to discover video’s full potential, and more and more people use it, we’re also seeing that some things about video don’t change. Without the right conditions, it still makes most people uncomfortable to be on camera. They often resist or hesitate to start recording when asked. Even younger generations. And this makes it clear why the most dominant video app on the planet is built on the condition that content disappears to reduce this tension (Snapchat).

Without the right conditions, it still makes most people uncomfortable to be on camera.

Inhibiting discussion is at cross purposes with our goals. So this is something we’ve been wary about. Something that we’ve also been wary of is that video can be used to change behaviors. And not in a good way. It can be used to control behavior. To force it. Uncle Ben was right. The power of video requires it be used responsibly, especially as we start to use video in moderated educational discussions where participation can be required.

Inhibiting discussion is at cross purposes with our goals.

We channeled these concerns and all our prior experience with evolving Recap to include chat-based question and response tools that are augmented by video instead of a video-only experience. Communicating effectively through chat to develop understanding is both highly effective and is becoming an essential 21st century skill.

We think merging the two can create more than the sum of parts. Chat makes conversations easy to start and can help using video become more authentic and less forced.

Our Best Practices with Video

Choice. Participants need to have a choice in when they use video.  If it is required, or worse graded, there is a high risk of it being used to force behavior unnaturally. Providing options on how to communicate (text or video), what to communicate on (options for different questions or even questions suggested by participants themselves) and when to use video is critical.

Authentic need. Given the context of the dialogue and what you have to say, does it feel like the best way to express yourself? Is clarity of your intent essential to what is being said? Is there an emotional context required (enthusiasm, excitement, concern, etc) ? Or do you need to demonstrate something that video uniquely enables ? If the answers to you or participants is yes, then video is a great tool for this. If not, then maybe looking at written responses is better to promote discussion.

Right Audience.  Participants need to feel psychological safety when using video. This means that the audience feels like the the right audience. What does that mean? Depending on circumstances, it can mean one person or the whole world. The key is to think about it and make sure it fits the circumstances and your participants needs, and that they understand who the audience will be for their recording.

Empower participants: When you request the use of video, make sure you have time watch everyone’s response. And moreover, seek to empower them by meaningfully responding to what they say in words and in follow up actions.  It’s the right thing to do.


Recap’s Queue is the culmination of these insights. Give it a try and see how empowering using an edchat tool augmented by the power of video can be!

About Brian. He is a graduate of Stanford’s design school. He lectured in “Introduction to Visual Thinking”, their foundational product design course focused creative process and was a coach for various engineering and classes. He has spent nearly 10 years pioneering video technology across consumer and educational markets.

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