9 Reasons to Use Video in the Classroom

Karina Kasparova
September 4, 2023

Every day, billions of people around the world hop online and search for how-to or educational videos. 

Some of these people are your students, sneaking in an earbud and silently catching up on a so-called ‘educational’ video about “how to make DIY rainbow slime” while they should be listening in class….

Make the learning process exciting by bringing relevant educational videos into the classroom.


Here are some practical applications of video lessons and examples of using videos in the classroom effectively to capture your students’ attention and improve their learning experience. 

Stick around because this post also ends with a resource to explore the possibility of creating your own video lecture.

Let’s dive in. 👇

  1. Video enhances retention and engagement
  2. Video facilitates accessibility and inclusivity
  3. Facilitates multi-sensory learning
  4. Appeals to visual learners
  5. Demonstrates real-world applications
  6. Facilitates a flipped classroom
  7. Promotes critical thinking
  8. Expands cultural awareness
  9. Improves digital literacy

Reason #1: Video enhances retention and engagement

The retention rate for text sits at an abysmal rate of 10%. Add in images, and that jumps to 65% retention. But audio-visual media steals the show with a reported 95% retention rate!

Teaching through video content can skyrocket student engagement, especially if it brings a complex concept to life.

✔️Teach concepts that require a larger picture: Imagine explaining the water cycle to your students. Supporting lecture videos could feature captivating visual animations or real-life footage that illustrate the various stages of the water cycle. Students would see water evaporating from oceans, lakes, and rivers, forming clouds in the sky, and returning to the Earth’s surface as rain, snow, or other forms of precipitation. These videos enable students to visually grasp the processes and understand the continuous movement of water in the environment.

✔️Teach things the students can’t see in real life: Think of a group of archaeology students. By utilizing virtual reality or immersive video experiences, they can, for example, explore the ancient city of Pompeii before and after the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The video clip can recreate the dramatic events leading up to and following the volcanic eruption. Students can virtually witness the eruption itself, see the volcanic ash and debris engulfing the city, and understand the destructive power of the volcanic event.

Did you know? 🤔

Maryville University uses Synthesia to create unique video content and save 35% of their time. Check out the case study for an interactive lesson between a professor and an AI avatar.

Reason #2: Video facilitates accessibility and inclusivity

A video with captions or translations is more accessible for students with vision or hearing impairments, language barriers, or developmental disabilities. Video fosters inclusivity and helps develop a sense of belonging, making it easier and more comfortable for students to learn.

Whether for informational or instructional videos, include elements that facilitate accessibility and inclusivity:

  • Translations, captions, and text overlays
  • Audio descriptions that narrate the less apparent visual elements
  • Graphics, text-on-screen, or animations for extra reinforcement
  • Visual contrasts for improved readability
  • Variable playback speed for different comprehension and learning paces
  • Pause and reflection moments inserted throughout the video

Reason #3: Facilitates multi-sensory learning

Combining visual and auditory stimuli makes video a powerful learning tool that captures attention and increases retention. Dr. Edgar Dale’s cone of learning made it clear since 1969 that the more senses we combine while learning, the more we’ll remember in time.

The cone of learning.

Multimedia learning can facilitate multi-sensory learning and retention in many different ways:

✔️Background music that evokes specific emotions and complements the video content enhances the emotional experience and creates an immersive learning environment.

✔️Sound effects related to the video demonstration can make the experience more dynamic and help the students visualize and understand concepts better — think of physics or chemistry experiments where the sound of bubbling liquids or sizzling reactions complements the video.

✔️Kinetic typography, which involves animated text on the screen, will emphasize the key terms or concepts, reinforce the meaning of the narration, and help students retain the information.

Reason #4: Appeals to visual learners

Classroom learning with videos makes a more appealing experience for visual learners. People who learn through images rather than sound or text can benefit significantly from videos, as they can process information more effectively through visual stimuli.

For example:

✔️To help students visualize a technique: Create a video that teaches a medical surgical procedure or a musical instrument, including close-up shots of finger positions and hand movements.

✔️To improve students’ spacial understanding: Create a geography lesson with aerial footage of different mountain ranges followed by 3D models or visual overlays of the Earth’s layers that show students how these elements interact to create mountains and give them a better spatial understanding.

Nevertheless, illustrating abstract concepts through animations will help even those who don’t particularly identify as visual learners. Teachers can leverage this using hands-on demonstrations, multi-angle perspectives, or maps and 3D models.

Here’s an example of a micro-lesson on the topic of neural networks that could assist the comprehension of visual learners:

Introduction to Neural Networks | Cloneable Example Video

Reason #5: Demonstrates real-world applications

Great video clips favor student learning by setting clear goals and promising specific benefits in the bigger context of the learner’s knowledge. 

Likewise, videos in the classroom can help your students understand the following:

✔️The relevance and significance of what you’re teaching: Teach the relevance of a recent monetary policy decision by a prominent central bank to the current economic context and quality of life. Use videos from the press conference announcing the change and TV news related to everyday life consequences — interest rates, investment levels, consumer spending, and employment.

✔️The transfer of learning to different contexts (and reinforce retention): For a computer sciences or engineering class, where you talk about quantum computers and how they would revolutionize the fields of data analysis and cryptography, use the approach of quantum computers explained with quantum physics.

Here’s an example of how a teacher demonstrates real-world applications of Newton’s third law:

Newton's Third Law: Action & Reaction

Reason #6: Facilitates a flipped classroom

A flipped classroom is an instructional strategy of asking students to complete their readings and other course materials at home and spend the class time working on live problem-solving like:

✔️Science experiments: For a science class, share pre-recorded video lectures and virtual laboratory demonstrations for home studying. At school, have students conduct experiments and test the lab procedures, techniques, processes, and expected outcomes with a practical activity.

✔️Discussions and debates: For a political science class, assign pre-recorded guest lectures or interviews with political analysts as pre-class material and encourage students to engage critically with the content. During the in-class session, facilitate discussions, debates, or Q&A sessions related to the topics covered in the videos.

Reason #7: Promotes critical thinking

Critical thinking is crucial for your students because it allows them to 1) Make and understand connections between ideas, 2) Build arguments based on facts, and 3) Find mistakes in reasoning.

Videos can provide an excellent platform for you to stimulate critical thinking analyses and evaluations:

✔️Analysis of choices: Show your students a film adaptation of a famous literary work and ask them to compare and contrast the film and the book. 

✔️Analysis of errors: Show your students videos with specific scientific experiments and ask them to analyze the process and the results, explore the experimental design, and determine error sources.

✔️Analysis of media messages: Show your students video clips with ads, news clips, or social media posts and guide them through critical analysis exercises. They’ll learn to evaluate media messages, identify biases, discern fact from opinion, and spot the persuasive techniques used in digital media.

Reason #8: Expands cultural awareness

Videos can supercharge students’ empathy and awareness by introducing them to diverse cultures, languages, and perspectives.

Cultural immersion videos, where students watch native speakers engaging in conversations, performing cultural rituals, or attending local celebrations, are invaluable learning resources. Cultural immersion can even be found in Hollywood (or Bollywood 🕺) films. 

Video learning from documentaries on historical events, where students can see footage from a significant historical event or period, will help them gain a broader perspective on global history and develop empathy for diverse cultures.

Here are a few other video types that help expand your students’ cultural awareness:

  • Documentaries on global challenges
  • Literature and art author interviews
  • Travel vlogs and virtual tours
  • Cultural music performances
  • Artisan and craftsmanship videos 
  • Cooking and cuisine videos

Reason #9: Improves digital literacy

Utilizing videos in the classroom promotes technology integration and develops digital literacy skills, which are vital in the working world. 

The 6 elements of digital capabilities.

Video supports multiple learning outcomes and acts as a two-way vehicle where students learn about video or through videos. Learning about videos is a complex and extended process where you:

  • Task students to create their own instructional video or multimedia presentation.
  • Get students to create short social media videos.
  • Ask students to analyze what makes top videos so popular.
  • Use video conferencing and collaboration tools to introduce your students to lecture capture, screencasting, or conferencing platforms like Google Meet or Zoom. 
  • Use the built-in communication tools provided by some educational video platforms to show students how to communicate, collaborate, and engage in online discussions with peers. This will prepare them for future remote study or work environments.

Learn how to make the coolest video lectures yourself

We all learn as we live. Would you like to take your instruction skills to the next level and become that cool teacher whose classroom videos all students want to watch?

Learn how to produce educational videos fast with AI-powered video software you can access in your web browser. Click here to learn how Synthesia makes it easy to keep students engaged.

Frequently Asked Questions