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How to use video to teach the 4Cs of education

There’s something special about video as a medium of instruction. The multi-sensory experience, combined with the flexibility of being able to use additional graphics, audio and animation makes for a truly immersive learning experience.

Many teachers are put off by what they perceive to be the high skill level required to make videos; and I empathize, video creation and editing tools take a bit of time to get used to, and require practice. But with a little bit of time and determination, everything can be learned.

We’ve explored previously the benefits of video in the flipped classroom, today we will explore how video can stimulate the 4Cs. We’ve also introduced the 4Cs in another post, and today we will drill down and look at how well-crafted video content, and the use of video technology in class can enable teachers to stimulate and impart these critical skills.

The 4Cs refer to a set of critical skills that some educational practitioners identify as being critical to functioning and thriving in the 21st century and has become somewhat of a buzzword. The 4Cs refer to: creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication. Let’s work through them one at a time, and see how video can enhance your student’s 4Cs development.


Creativity here refers to problem solving. Being able to abstract an issue or a problem, and look at it from a different perspective is essentially a creative exercise. Even students who are not necessary artistic need to be able to see things differently.

“Thinking out of the box” may be a thunderous cliche, but it fits well here: oftentimes the simplest, most elegant solution requires students to reframe a problem, or look at it in an entirely new way. As Albert Einstein said,

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.

So how can video projects stimulate creativity? Here are a few ideas:

  • Music videos. Asking students to visualize an Emily Bronte poem (for example) as a music video, will encourage them to think differently about what the poem is about, its imagery etc. Music videos are a great way to encourage students think in the abstract, and to try and represent what they read on the page, or hear, visually.
  • Single-shot video. Telling a story without cuts or edits will challenge students to think carefully about what they capture. It will challenge their communication skills and help them understand the nuances of perspective and about the restriction of linear, narrative forms.
  • The short. Limiting a video project to a few seconds, can force your students to be precise and creative. If, for instance, you asked students to create short videos defining complex concepts such as humanity, democracy or anxiety using only real-life footage and a short time frame, you encourage deep thinking about those subjects, and hopefully some creative ideas about what they truly mean.

Critical thinking

It is becoming increasingly important that students develop the ability to interrogate what they read and hear. In a “Post-Truth” media environment, having the courage and analytical skills to question authoritative texts, news stories and social media is essential. Balancing knowledge with skepticism is a healthy exercise, academically and emotionally. Some ways that you can work on your students’ critical thinking abilities using video include:

  • The interview. Ask students, in pairs, to film an interview of themselves discussing a contentious issue. Once the interview is recorded, ask them to take the exact same footage and edit it, to show bias towards one or other position.
  • Propaganda. This exercise is fun to do with apolitical topics. So, perhaps ask them to create propaganda films for their favorite foods.
  • What if? Asking students to create small documentaries on historical incidents that never happened, or happened differently, is a creative way to get them to think about the environment they now live in, and how history has made it that way.


Working together is an essential academic, as well as life, skill. Conflict resolution, role definition, consensus, leadership, sharing credit and taking responsibility are high-value skills that even very young students must start to learn.

Anyone who has ever watched a making-of documentary about a major blockbuster will appreciate the enormous amount of collaboration and teamwork involved, and setting any video group video project will challenge your students’ collaboration skills.

Another idea is to ask groups, working on any project, to delegate a member to shoot a “making-of” style video. Behind-the-scenes videos will capture the collaboration, and offer the group an opportunity to reflect on how they worked together.


Clearly communicating ideas and opinions requires high levels of emotional IQ. Active listening, as well as logic and language skills are required to communicate effectively. Understanding how modern devices and communication technology can both enhance, and in many cases, disrupt clear communication is also necessary.

Video, as we have discussed, can be a very effective communication tool in and of itself, but it can also be used to build other communication skills. Some video projects that can build a student's communication skills include:

  • How to. Challenge your students to create short videos on how to make something - a craft or a dish. Make sure there is a time limit, and students are compelled to include succinct, clear instructions and guidelines. It may be fun to play the video in class, where students actually go through the tutorial and evaluate how successful the communication was.
  • Synopsis. Asking students to do a time-limited synopsis of a book, play or movie to camera will challenge their communication skills, as they seek to summarize the main themes and plot of the movie without losing clarity or focus.
  • Speech re-edit. Ask students to find footage of a speech - politicians here make great subjects - that is rambling and struggles to get to the point. Now ask students to re-edit the footage in a way that the speech makes more sense.


The 4Cs are a wonderful mnemonic that help teachers keep their eyes on the greater goal of educating children and young people: well-rounded, curious and confident adults that are able to think for themselves, and who can clearly communicate their needs and ideas.

Video is a medium that students understand and for the most part love working with - they are surrounded by it daily. It is therefore a great way to develop the 4Cs in an engaging and effective way.

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