January 31, 2012

Video Modeling

The following is written by Luke Walker, a Positive Behavior Support Trainer for the West Virginia Autism Training Center. Luke discusses using video modeling to teach skills to individuals with ASD.

Just what is video modeling?

Video modeling is a way of providing a visual to help explain a situation, provide rules, routine, teach a new skill or display important information. It can provide a model to the viewer of how a skill is completed or what a new environment will look like. Individuals that already enjoy watching videos, have basic imitation skills and are visual learners can benefit greatly from a video model. It is a very non-invasive way of teaching new skills and behavior.

Video modeling is based on the principle that many of our behaviors are learned from watching and imitating others. By watching someone who serves as a model, individuals may learn skills needed to obtain a goal or achieve an outcome - and then they  may act as a guide to another observer!

Video models are often an excellent fit for individuals with autism spectrum disorders as, typically, computer time is reinforcing, visual learning is often preferred and videos can be individually tailored.

Step 1: Planning

The first step for creating a video model is to plan exactly what you are going to teach the individual. Choose a behavior that is purposeful and meaningful to the individual. Define the behavior you wish to see, e.g. “Fred will brush his teeth before bed."

Choose the most appropriate type of video model you will use for the individual. Who will be the model? Will there be music or narration? Can you use pictures to supplement the video?
Next, break down the skill into steps and plan each different “shot”. Will there be a script for the model to read or actions to perform? What will these be?

Step 2: Filming

Record the video following the steps of the skills you planned earlier. Record several “takes” of each step and don’t be afraid to record more than you need. This will help with editing the video later. Be sure to keep the original footage in case you wish to make changes later.

I personally use a flip video camera for all of my video models. It is easy to quickly record and the image is often bright even in low light situations. I import it through the flip video software when I plug the camera into the computer, onto my hard drive.

Step 3: Production

Import your video into an video editing software so you can edit and trim the footage to remove mistakes and prompts. I use Windows movie maker for my video models as it is quick and easy to splice together a series of short video clips, loop, add music or narration, text to the screen and a number of other handy features. You will need to convert the video from the flip share program using the options to share it on media sites like youtube and Facebook. Follow the prompts and there will be a choice to allow you to save the file to the hard drive.

You want the video to show the ideal skill demonstrated without help or prompts. Be aware of how long the video is and whether it is suitable for the learner or not. A short video that loops could have more impact than a 2 minute video with many steps. At this stage add a title, text to the video and credits. Personalize the video for the individual so that they can take ownership and excitement in it.

Step 4: Show time

Some things to consider once you have finished your video:

How will it be watched?
  • Will you have a computer easily available or a DVD player at home? At school?
  • Is a portable DVD player suitable?
  • Ipad/Ipod/Iphone?
  • Upload a secure video on a video sharing site?

When will it be watched?
  • A set schedule each day?
  • Directly before the time the skill is to be performed?
  • When needed to correct the learner?
  • Can it be shared with parents to be shown at home?

5) Review and tweak

Assess whether the video is improving the skill by taking more footage of the current skill level and comparing to the original footage. Is the individual able to complete more steps than before? Are fewer prompts required? You could show the video and then test the learner 3-5 times at the skill and record the results to see if there is an improvement.

If positive results are not seen adjust the intervention.

  • Increase the number of viewings
  • Increase video loops
  • Change medium
  • Show video at different times of day
  • Prepare visual prompts from video to aid follow-through.

Be as creative as you wish with the videos you create as long as you remember to personalize them to the individual. There are many different factors to consider and many different decisions to make when creating a suitable video model so get to know the individual’s preferences, preferred learning styles strengths and weaknesses as you plan the video.

Here's one example:

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