Review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2019


Safe-for-classroom videos curated by teachers for teachers

Subjects & skills

  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: The subject-rich platform and ad-free content take a lot of stress out of showing videos in class; videos are searchable by length, age range, and topic.

Cons: With over a million videos, there's still a lot to sift through, and teachers will have to spend some time figuring out how to best incorporate videos into existing lessons.

Bottom Line: It's a pressure-free place to start looking for high-quality videos to supplement existing lessons in traditional, one-to-one, or flipped classroom models.

Showing a video to the whole class with Boclips is one way to introduce a concept or get everyone on the same page quickly, but it's not always the most effective mode of delivery. Consider letting kids discuss videos in real time via a tool like Backchannel Chat. Or assign group members different videos and then follow a jigsaw model of instruction, letting them teach each other the main takeaways. Help kids become more critical consumers of media by having them watch videos on the same topic from differing perspectives and then discuss areas where there may be bias or determine what's being left out of the conversation. Since Boclips allows you to share videos via URL, you can pair it with a tool like Blendspace or ThingLink to engage students with different types of content at their own pace.

The blog has some useful ideas for video integration, but teachers might find more inspiration via the developer's Facebook and Twitter feeds, where teachers share lessons and ideas for how to incorporate video. The ability to create, share, and search for fully fleshed-out lessons would be a nice addition to the website, but the ad-free videos take a lot of the pressure off of teachers to worry about what might pop up on their or their students' screens during a lesson. 

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Boclips is a free video curation website where teachers can search for, save, rate, and share ad-free educational videos to enhance classroom instruction. With videos containing stock footage, news footage, instructional clips, and television clips, teachers can search for content from partners that include Reuters, 360 Cities, Smithsonian, PBS, and loads more. Filters (age range, subject area, and duration) can help teachers find age-appropriate videos for their students. There's an option to view or create collections as well, so teachers looking for multiple videos on a specific topic can put them together for later viewing or sharing.

The site could use better filters or search limiters. For example, a search of "van Gogh at Arles" returned over five pages of videos related to Vincent van Gogh, but the results don't narrow much when using quotation marks around the phrase or by adding other keywords. This might present some frustration for teachers looking for a specific topic. Also, specific standards aren't tagged, so teachers looking to search for content by curriculum standard might find it a challenge. Still, it's a far less daunting endeavor than just browsing for videos on YouTube or on the internet in general. 

High-quality supplemental videos -- like those on Boclips -- have great potential to aid in student learning. Whether teachers are facilitating in a traditional, one-to-one, or flipped classroom, they can provide kids with the opportunity to watch and re-watch content, giving learners who struggle a chance to catch up or gain clarification. The easy-to-use interface makes finding relevant, standards-based video content a snap.

Kids won't necessarily do the work of learning without guidance, though. Teachers will need to extend the lesson on both ends, not only providing context prior to showing videos, but also following up with discussion and reflection afterward. The collections are a useful feature: Teachers can save or curate collections for class topics, which can be great for building resources for units, passion projects, or professional development. However, since there's no Boclips platform for students, teachers will largely be taking the lead in terms of which content gets shared.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Carefully chosen, short videos will get students' attention and provide variety within the larger context of a lesson.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

The videos alone won't get the job done, but if teachers follow sound design principles and incorporate discussion and reflection, they're sure to be impactful.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

With many videos offering closed captioning and the ability to sort and share in different ways, differentiation is an easy fit, but you'll need to use other platforms or a learning management system (LMS) to give students access.

Common Sense Reviewer
Marianne Rogowski Media specialist/librarian

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