There is a growing trend in mathematics education to deliver instructional maths content – information that traditionally has been delivered via lecture format – using videos. This article will explore some of the aspects and advantages associated with instructional math videos. The article will attempt to answer the question “Are instructional maths video likely to replace classroom teaching?"

This article is one in a series of maths education articles exploring the 21st-century learning trend in education called flipped learning. The articles are designed to be read in any order except for 'The Flipped Classroom explained' – which is recommended to be read first.

This article is one in a series of maths education articles exploring the 21st-century learning trend in education called flipped learning. The articles are designed to be read in any order except for 'The Flipped Classroom explained' – which is recommended to be read first.

We will take the term 'video' to mean 'quality math instructional video', which meets the following criteria. The video:

In other words, the video is on par with any quality, face-to-face lecture segment. (See Instructional maths videos - 3 different types)

- Has been well planned.
- Is well sequenced, the message is clear and contains no ambiguity.
- Makes at least some attempt to address the concept/s underlying the particular mathematics being addressed.

In other words, the video is on par with any quality, face-to-face lecture segment. (See Instructional maths videos - 3 different types)

This will be a difficult statement for some readers to accept. A common response will be ...

“I understand that video can be used to deliver mathematics content but there’s no way video can compete with the real thing”.

However, video delivery of teaching content has the potential to be an improvement, and in some cases a very significant improvement, to face-to-face, real-time delivery. This claim is never a given, however, because, for video delivery to trump face-to-face delivery, three things need to be in place:

- Videos need to be of good quality (as explained above)
- All students have ready access to the videos.
- Students need to be on board with the flipped format, i.e. not resistive to the idea.

Before we explore the advantages of math instructional videos let's consider the three advantages of in-class, real-time, face-to-face delivery we need to acknowledge:

These three advantages, however, are not universal to all face-to-face teaching (!)

- In-class, real-time delivery can be dynamic and engaging.
- The real-time teacher can deal with questions as they arise.
- The real-time teacher can use Socratic questioning as part of the instructional segment.

These three advantages, however, are not universal to all face-to-face teaching (!)

- Most in-class delivery of math instruction is not particularly engaging (ask any random group of mathematics students!)
- The in-class lecture is not a particularly fertile environment for students to ask questions (most students tend not to voice their questions)
- Most teachers don’t use Socratic questioning.

Nevertheless, the disclaimer stands – real-time, face-to-face delivery of mathematical instruction has the potential, in a few areas, to be superior to video delivery of mathematical instruction.

End of disclaimer!

Let’s not forget that when content is delivered via video (within lessons) the students still have the teacher in the classroom – in real time – to answer questions. The flipped mastery class offers the best teacher access for students requiring it because most of the other students, at that time, will be engaged with the online unit.

Therefore, we need to reframe the question. The question is really this:

Therefore, we need to reframe the question. The question is really this:

"Are in-class math lectures superior to a situation where math content is delivered by quality videos AND where students can ask questions of the teacher AFTER watching the videos?"

Next, we will consider some advantages of video delivery of mathematical content:

- Students have control over the speed of delivery: pause, skip ahead, repeat
- No more pressure of asking questions
- The multiplication of video teaching segments
- Fewer distractions for students
- I choose to listen!
- Differentiation of instruction
- “But sir, I was away!”
- Revision

The pause button is a more significant than most people realise. The ability for a student, when watching a video, to pause as often as she likes, and to replay parts of (or all of) the video, as often as she needs, is very powerful. Students simply cannot have a real-time lecture replayed whenever they want.

As much as we don’t want to admit this, many students sit through real-time lectures with the following dialogue in their heads:

“I’m confused – I should ask a question – I should put my hand up – they’ll think I’m stupid – oh, now I have no idea what’s going on – well I can’t put my hand up now because it was 5 minutes ago when I got lost. I wish I had put my hand up then. I hope I don’t get asked a question …”

I propose this is a common reality of many students!

However, when watching content on a video there is no pressure around asking questions at all. Simply hit the pause button, have a think, drag the play head back a bit, replay a section. Related to Advantage #1, this is at the heart of Salmon Khan’s revelation when he was tutoring his nephews, his precursor 'revelation' to creating Khan Academy. When Khan made video lessons to make up for his absence at some tutoring sessions he soon discovered he was more effective on video than when tutoring 'live'. Why? The embarrassment aspect for his nephews (of not understanding) was nonexistent with the video versions of his lessons!

“I’m confused – I should ask a question – I should put my hand up – they’ll think I’m stupid – oh, now I have no idea what’s going on – well I can’t put my hand up now because it was 5 minutes ago when I got lost. I wish I had put my hand up then. I hope I don’t get asked a question …”

I propose this is a common reality of many students!

However, when watching content on a video there is no pressure around asking questions at all. Simply hit the pause button, have a think, drag the play head back a bit, replay a section. Related to Advantage #1, this is at the heart of Salmon Khan’s revelation when he was tutoring his nephews, his precursor 'revelation' to creating Khan Academy. When Khan made video lessons to make up for his absence at some tutoring sessions he soon discovered he was more effective on video than when tutoring 'live'. Why? The embarrassment aspect for his nephews (of not understanding) was nonexistent with the video versions of his lessons!

Instructional math videos duplicate the teacher. Rather than one lecture, given in one classroom, once, a video can be watched by multiple students, multiple times, in multiple locations.

Assuming the videos are watched with headphones, the student’s universe at the time is ‘me and this video’. If a distraction does occur, the video can be paused, and viewing resumed when the distraction is over. Distractions from the message are, therefore, less common.

Contrast this to the average classroom where the teacher, as part of the instructional segment, is also required to deal with student management issues which result in interruptions to the teaching segments. In addition, at any single time, one or more students may not be paying attention despite appearances to the contrary.

Contrast this to the average classroom where the teacher, as part of the instructional segment, is also required to deal with student management issues which result in interruptions to the teaching segments. In addition, at any single time, one or more students may not be paying attention despite appearances to the contrary.

In the real-time, face-to-face scenario, it is the teacher who makes the decision for the students to pay attention. In the video scenario, the student makes that decision. This is a significant difference!

Utilising different videos with a user-friendly online format allows the teacher to pitch the information to multiple levels resulting in students at different stages of understanding being catered for simultaneously.

Dealing with multiple absences caused by illness, sports carnivals, music camps, drama rehearsals and the like is a major issue for teachers – especially math teachers, well, math teachers, that is, who are not running flipped classrooms. If students can work through a unit away from the classroom, then absences are much less of an issue.

This is related to Advantage #7 above. When using video to deliver the content of mathematics units then the videos are permanently available to your students – perfect for use when it’s time to revise for exams.

We should begin by clarifying what we mean by classroom teaching.

Firstly, “classroom teaching” implies “there’s a teacher in the classroom”. My view is that as long as we have classrooms, the classrooms will always require the presence of a teacher.

Secondly, “classroom teaching” implies there is a teacher in the classroom who is “teaching” i.e. being the fountain of knowledge. Most forward thinkers agree we need to move from a teacher-centric model to a student-centered model so that the “teacher of information” become an“(active) facilitator of learning”. Delivering math content via video can make the transition from “teacher” to “active facilitator” an easier transition to make.

Firstly, “classroom teaching” implies “there’s a teacher in the classroom”. My view is that as long as we have classrooms, the classrooms will always require the presence of a teacher.

Secondly, “classroom teaching” implies there is a teacher in the classroom who is “teaching” i.e. being the fountain of knowledge. Most forward thinkers agree we need to move from a teacher-centric model to a student-centered model so that the “teacher of information” become an“(active) facilitator of learning”. Delivering math content via video can make the transition from “teacher” to “active facilitator” an easier transition to make.

I propose that despite being a part of 21st-century learning, the use of instructional math videos will not replace the classroom teacher. Hopefully, the use of video will help teachers to make the transition from being “teachers of information” to “facilitators of learning”.

For those interested in being guided through the process of creating quality instructional mathematics videos check out the information on this site. But be forewarned - creating quality instructional math videos can be addictive!

For those interested in being guided through the process of creating quality instructional mathematics videos check out the information on this site. But be forewarned - creating quality instructional math videos can be addictive!

Subscribe to receive free tutorials, information and to stay in touch

Comments anyone? We'd love your thoughts below. (Your email address will not be required)

Contact |
Customer Service |
PD & CoursesUnderstanding & Agency in Mathematics- Agency: Empowering Maths Students
- Conceptual Coordinate Geometry
- Workshopping Concept-specific OEQs
- Teaching Equations Epically
- Understanding-1st: Right-angled Trig
Teaching with GeoGebra (Proficiently) Dept-wide Mathematics PD Early-career Teachers Course |