A few days ago, some DEN friends and I got in on the Beta test of a new “walkie talkie” video app called Glide.  I invited many more, but they closed the Beta testing right after we got in.  The premise is that we can connect with Facebook friends and send short video messages to individuals or groups of people.  It works much like the private message function in Facebook, only with video.

One of the things we learned quickly (and seem to forget as we go along) is that the video will automatically shut down at around 45 seconds.  Now, in this instance you have two choices: A) You can pick up where you left off and make a string of separate videos to get your point across, or B) You can learn how to say things in 45 seconds or less.

As I was catching up on 3 or 4 videos this morning my mind started circling back to the way our students communicate.  Quick.  Easy.  Short.  Code.  Email is way too slow these days.  Even Facebook has been hijacked by us “older” folks.  They don’t want a social network they have to share with their grandparents.  Twitter is the site of choice, and one of (if not THE) fasted growing social media sites in the world.

Discovery Education has been on top of this long before it was a trend.  In our early days of training we were taught to show video clips rather than entire videos.  And even with a 4 or 5 minute video, break it up.  Stop it.  Talk about it.  Ask questions.  Then start it again.  We even learned how to embed video in PowerPoint (so 37 seconds ago) that would include all the controls we needed to stop and start the video without losing it to the next slide.

Twitter limits you to 140 characters.  Shorter if you are retweeting or quoting someone.  Now we have Vine, a video client for Twitter that only allows you to record 6 seconds of content.  I haven’t used it yet, but I’ve seen some things created with it, and they are wonderful.

I’ve downloaded Cesar Kurivama’s app that records 1 second every day.  You really should watch his TED Talk here.  Imagine it.  Telling the story of your month.  Or your year.  Or your life in 1-second video clips.  One for each day.  It reminds me of a workshop conducted by Hall Davidson some time back where he had 1 and 2 second video clips embedded in his teaching as reinforcers of content.

I’m creating videos for teachers that are 8 to 10 minutes long as part of my Coffee Time series for the teachers at our school.  These seem to be about right for the 30 and older crowd.  But I wonder if they are, in fact, too long for new teachers in their twenties?  Can I cut those in half and still teach all of the content?

I’m also making 2 or 3 minute videos for our kids related to an iPad Photo Tips project we are doing this year.  Are they too long for high school students?  Can I crop that down to 30 seconds or less and still get my main points across?  How much of it is superflous talk just to hear me speak?

I think we are just scratching the surface of micro-teaching.  And there is so little professional development geared to helping us do that.

What about you?  As you create videos in your class, or download Discovery Education clips, or show YouTube videos, are you working to get those down as short as possible and still get the teaching in?  Are you challenging your students to create a 6-second teaching video?  Have you tried it for yourself?  What tools are you using?

Leave some comments below.  Micro-comments…




  1. Nancy Sharoff said:

    Your post has raised so many questions in my mind (on a Saturday morning even before getting out of bed!). On the one hand, we’re talking about developing new writing/thinking skills for our students – the ability to drill down to the essence & getting that point across while remaining true to the initial concept. WOW! Just WOW!

    Secondly, I wonder how teachers will feel teaching this type of skill when so many state assessments require students to write, and write, and write with infinite supporting details (I spent a day on state assessment training and not only was it one of the more painful times of my life, but I left a ranting, raving lunatic).

    I on the other hand am excited about this. I will be supporting a group of students who struggle with reading & writing. I plan on sharing this post & some ideas I have with their teacher.

    Oh, & thanks for the link to iPad Photo Tips! You KNOW I subscribed! Looking forward to see if you make any changes to your extremely helpful Coffee Time Series.

    • Tim Childers said:

      Nancy, my apologies for getting your brain working far too early on a Saturday! LOL

      You raise a very valid question about state writing assessments. I’ve worked with kids in middle school for several years on that very thing. And, of course, it is all changing this year with Common Core.

      So, can we micro-teach (if that is a valid way of reaching out) students to get down the very essence of an argument (essential question?) and then build out piece by piece until they have a longer, articulate response?

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Nancy Sharoff said:

    I told you your post raised questions! As I was doing more iReading BAM! another question popped up. You know how we complain that students have a difficult time staying focused for any amount of time? Would this type of micro delivery perpetuate that? Do we want to undermine the ‘stick-to-ed-ness’ in our students? Just another thought…..

    • Tim Childers said:

      Questions are good things! I’m not sure we really have a “concentration” problem. Just watch kids on Minecraft or Super Mario. I think what we have is an “Interest” problem.

      How do we interest kids in learning the things we (or the state) thinks is important? Maybe micro-teaching with video and other tools is just the “hook” to pull them in one by one until they find their area of interest. And then, we won’t be able to drag them away! (Yes, I’m a dreamer….)

  3. Kelly Hines said:

    I’m on the fence about this idea, too. I can see benefits to both sides. I wonder if we are meeting student needs or accommodating a lack of attention. Clearly, there is a balance needed. I think it might be cool to have the students generate their own micro-reflections using these types of tools. A student would really have to “know their stuff” to be able to teach/summarize a concept in under 30 seconds!

  4. Tim Childers said:

    No question about it. I have mixed thoughts as well. I guess I’m really advocating for including snippets of micro-teaching inside the shell of our lessons in order to introduce concepts and build interest (like a move trailer or commercial teaser), or something that repeats over and over throughout the lesson to reinforce an idea, or perhaps something that summarizes the teaching at the end. Perhaps tied directly to the original goal or objective of the lesson.

    From my Preaching Class days at undergrad, I can tell you that we were ingrained with the idea that to say less requires you to study more. Our teacher recommended an hour of study for every minute of sermon time.

    Perhaps that’s why micro-teaching resonants with me as possibility. It actually requires more to produce less.

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