10 Dos and Don'ts of Video Learning

Video learning is an important part of helping a child with exceptionalites develop vocal/verbal skills.  But, it is also helpful in teaching other types of daily living skills, such as going to the doctor and interacting with peers.  Implementing effective video learning strategies across the home and school settings can sometimes present challenges.  Below, Dr. Gilmour outlines some Dos and Don'ts to help ensure success when using a video learning program.

1. DO COMMIT TO DAILY “VIDEO LEARNING TIME:” Make a calendar that provides you and the child a visual of his/her schedule. Determine a 15- to 30-minute time slot on a daily basis, and write “VIDEO LEARNING TIME” on the daily schedule. Provide a timer that has a visual countdown and let the child know this timer will be used to track how long he/she will need to sit in front of the computer for video learning time.

2. DO REINFORCE CONTENT: For the first week beginning video learning time, sit down with the child for the entire 15- to 30-minute viewing session to reinforce the content that is presented in the videos. Sit next to the child while he/she views the videos, saying the words along with the videos as they are presented and giving praise to the child for sitting and watching the videos.    

3. DO PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES TO PRACTICE IN NATURAL ENVIRONMENT: As the child starts to make more vocalizations and attempts to vocally-verbally communicate, provide as many opportunities as possible to hear the child say words/sounds in their natural environment. For example, this may occur at the grocery store when the child wants a pack of gum. Ask the child, “What do you want?” and when he/she responds with “G...U...M!” or even just the sound “/g/” provide immediate praise.

4. DO ENCOURAGE SUPPORT AND PRACTICE AMONG THE TEAM: Talk to the child’s teachers, camp counselors, grandparents and anyone who consistently interacts with the child to let all team members know you are on a fast track to getting the child talking. Explain the tactics you use to get the child to emit more vocal-verbal words, encouraging the child’s “team of support.”

5. DO CONSISTENTLY AND RELIABLY GATHER INFORMATION: It is always best practice to use data to drive decisions when it comes to anything regarding acquiring new skills and decreasing challenging behaviors. Use the data collection method that most easily fits into the daily routine of your family. Collect data using video clips to show language use. Record new words and sounds, and share this information with all team members. If there are changes to the routine or video learning time, indicate this on the calendar and keep any change consistently in place to determine whether or not the change will produce better outcomes.

6. DON’T EXPECT IMMEDIATE IMPROVEMENTS: Parents and teachers may begin new interventions excited about potential outcomes, but when skills don’t develop in a specific way or within the time expected, the intervention may become less and less of a priority. With video learning time, the repetition of content is the most important factor to build skills, especially for language development.

7. DON’T ASSUME THE CHILD IS NOT LEARNING: The child may not show that he or she has the skill until receiving a certain amount of exposure. Our test for whether a method is working is based on a child’s acquisition of specific skills after a certain number of trials to practice the skills that have been presented.

8. DON’T FAIL TO REINFORCE YOUR EXPECTATIONS: If the child is having tantrums while the videos are playing, be sure the child clearly understands what the expectations are for him/her during video learning time. Provide extra reinforcement or allow the child to do an activity, such as coloring, while watching/listening to videos.

9. DON’T OVERLOOK THE POSITIVES OF COLLABORATION: Collaboration is the most important factor to fully serve the child across environments, accelerating learning of both the child and his or her team members.

10. DON’T DISCONTINUE INFORMATION GATHERING: One of the biggest mistakes that parents and educators make is not collecting accurate information on a child’s progress, relying on their feelings about interventions, or only reflecting on specific situations when the child was or was not successful. It is critical to have a clear, genuine view of how your child has responded to interventions. Data collection is part of any effective program and those gathering data must do it reliably and consistently for any successful skill-building and/or behavior reduction program.