Create Engaging Video Lessons With Zaption

Whether it is for listening practice, the basis for a discussion or writing assignment, an extension of a reading activity, or something else altogether, videos are an excellent, often underutilized, resource at our disposal. Despite that fact that there is an enormous number of educational videos available online via YouTube and other websites, it seems that I could always make more of an effort to integrate them into my classes. While I do not want to give up valuable class time to video viewing, I also want students to engage with the content while and directly after they watch. This is where sites like eduCanon, EDpuzzle, and now Zaption come in to play.

Zaption was recommended to me by fellow Dakota TESL member, Amy Franz, and I have been looking forward to testing it out. The site’s tagline, “Don’t just watch. Learn.”, sums up exactly what I look for in such tools. Registering for a free account is simple and, if you would prefer to sign in with a Facebook, Google, or Edmodo account, you can. That is all you need to get going.

To get an idea of what you can do with Zaption, browse the Zaption Gallery found under the Lessons tab. These video lessons have been created by other users and are ready to go. Searching for ESL brings up 49 results, which is a good place to start, and obviously there is room to grow. You can be part of that!

To add to the collection of ESL video lessons, create new lessons. Start by finding at least one video you want to use. Trim it down to a specific section if necessary. Add text, image, or drawing slides throughout the presentation to scaffold the video content and put your own spin on it. Add questions or a discussion box for students to engage with as they watch. Replay and jump can be added for advanced navigation purposes, too! Everything seems to operate on the basic drag-and-drop principle, and there are so many ways you can customize these lessons.

When you are pleased with your lesson, there are just a couple more steps. First, publish and get a shareable link or present it live. Presenting it live does not necessarily limit you to the classroom either, because students can join the session on any computer or mobile device, such as a tablet or smartphone, using the presenter’s code. Assuming you can share that via email or LMS, the presentation could be done during another time period—perhaps a lab or something similar. This is a fantastic feature! After students have participated in your video lesson, the analytics will help you determine student understanding and/or mastery, and where to go next with your class.

Once you try Zaption out, take a look at the premium accounts that are available for instructors, teams, and campuses. The biggest benefits I see in upgrading to a premium account are in the amount of student data and analytics visible, the ability to upload private videos, and the advanced sharing and permissions settings. If these things are not important to you, stick with the free basic account and see how far that takes you.

How do you use videos in the classroom? What video resources would you recommend to other TESOL educators? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

About Tara Arntsen

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen recently completed her Master's degree in Teaching-TESOL at the University of Southern California. She currently teaches in the Intensive English Program at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. She has taught ESOL in China, Japan, and Cambodia as well as online. Her primary interests are communicative teaching methods and the use of technology in education.
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