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This week on #remotelearningdiaries, high school English teacher Tom O'Connor explains the value of Edpuzzle's analytics when teaching about media literacy. Discover how to interpret your own analytics and apply them to your practice!

Reading doesn’t always come easy. Reading something challenging should force you the reader to read, reread and think critically to truly understand it.

This is one aspect of Edpuzzle I feel we don’t talk about enough. As a high school English teacher, I use Edpuzzle frequently. Although I use it for various reasons, active reading is a key element of my teaching with Edpuzzle.

I continuously hear from high school teachers that active reading is a skill they are seeing in steep decline. This is where English teachers need to take Edpuzzle next. Active reading of words is one thing. Active reading of media is the next step.

My not-so-sinister motives

The goal of my Edpuzzle lessons is two-fold. Firstly, I want students to understand the content of the video and respond. This is where I will assess their understanding and give a grade. I would argue this is how most teachers use Edpuzzle. Nothing new here.

The second goal I have for my students is the hidden goal and one that we speak about after the lesson: active reading and tenacity. This is, of course, the more difficult issue for students to comprehend.

There are various reasons why this is difficult for students, but at its root, students naturally rush through reading to just get it done. What they fail to understand is that they are cheating themselves because they are not learning how to be an active reader. And, this is where Edpuzzle comes in.

Open-ended questions make for real learning

When choosing a video make sure that you choose one that allows for some challenging open-ended questions.

For example, in mid-March it became clear that we would be practicing some form of remote learning with Edpuzzle. I wanted students to get some advice on working from home and also think about potential issues that could prove problematic for them.

I added several questions to Dr. Jenkins’ “How To Stay Disciplined When Working From Home” video. One of the questions I posed was the following:

According to Dr. Jenkins, the more mature you are, the more control you get over your own life. Identify someone who is attempting to control some of your life. Do they have reason to control your life? (In other words, have you shown yourself not to be mature enough?).

As much as this is a personal question, the student also has to show that they have some understanding of Dr. Jenkins’ point on maturity. This takes not only basic reading for understanding, but more importantly rereading to clarify that understanding.

So often students rush to answer without knowing what is truly being asked. Only when students are sure of the question can they begin to critically think.

The value of rewatching

This is where one of my favorite Edpuzzle features stands out: the rewatch button.

When reviewing the analytics in Edpuzzle, I could see that the majority of my students watched each section of the video once. They chose not to rewatch any sections. The viewing/reading pattern of most of my class mirrored what you see below. And, of these students, most did not answer the questions particularly well.

Tom O'Connor Image 1

Whereas, those who had rewatched segments multiple times had substantially better answers. And, this aspect is a key takeaway for me and my students. The power of rereading.

Tom O'Connor Image 2

Digging underneath the data

The truth is, when I look at my student’s answers, I am looking more at the analytics behind the data. I am looking for a student to show the grit and determination required to be an active reader.

The above example is one of my students. He is a hard-working young man, however, the content in this course at times is difficult for him. At a basic level, I can see if he understands and answers the question. But, by looking at the data behind the answers I can see if he is practicing the reading strategies that will help him succeed.

To get beyond these assumptions the most important part of this lesson is to discuss the Edpuzzle analytics with the student and focus on their effort to understand the question.

In my follow-up conversation with this particular student, he said, “I needed to break the question down to understand exactly what was being asked.” I explained to him that this, much to his surprise, was a great reading strategy.

This is the payoff for us as teachers. When our students see that rereading is not a sign of a weak reader, but instead the sign of a strong reader.

Final thoughts

As an English teacher, media literacy is a key element of my education. Much like traditional literacy, students will need to watch and rewatch to understand the subtleties of the media they consume.

In the future, it will be interesting to see how students' minds work with digital literacy. Will they rewatch and think critically? Or will they rush to the answer as they so often do with traditional literacy?

As we become more deeply intertwined in the multimedia landscape, active reading of media is even more necessary.

Want more excellent teacher tips? Check out #remotelearningdiaries on Twitter for more great Edpuzzle lesson plans!

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Tom O'Connor

High School English Teacher

Tom has been teaching English, Civics, Careers, and various other classes for 15 years. He is currently the Assistant Department Head of English at Jacob Hespeler Secondary School in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. He is scheduled to present at this year's NCTE Conference in Denver, Colorado. He loves trying new things in education and hopes one day to eradicate the five-paragraph essay from high schools.