Do Documentaries Still Have Educational Value?

May 24, 2023 | Articles, News

Modern documentaries continue to hold significant educational value in today’s society. Some teachers eagerly incorporate them in the studying process, while others have doubts about the effectiveness of such an approach. If misused, documentaries can harm the objective perception of educational topics.

On the other hand, documentaries can serve as a great approach when it comes to learning new material. They are especially useful when the topic is massive and requires a lot of attention. Students can familiarize themselves with the main ideas and then continue learning the topic in more detail. Students often lack time and look for fast and practical ways of coping with their assignments. They often hire someone to write essay and use the assistance of online experts to get their head around complex topics. Online experts can guide them through the writing process just like documentaries guide learners through the process of studying. This article will discuss some of documentaries’ key advantages and disadvantages regarding the educational process.

Educational Value of Documentaries

According to recent research studies, using documentaries can improve students’ interest. Here are some more benefits to consider.

  • Engaging medium. Documentaries help teachers make their classes more engaging and memorable. Such tools as audiovisual storytelling, images, sounds, and narratives help them convey information effectively. It becomes easier to facilitate active learning experiences.
  • Real-world applicability. Combining theory and practice during the studying process is always a challenge. Documentaries bring topics to life, providing students with an immersive experience that closes the gap between theoretical knowledge and its applicability in the real-world environment.
  • Different perspectives. Documentaries present a variety of perspectives. They offer diverse voices and viewpoints on a subject. This openness to other opinions encourages critical thinking, fosters empathy, and broadens students’ understanding of complex topics.
  • Supplement to classroom instruction. Even though teachers can’t use documentaries instead of traditional classroom instruction, educators can diversify the studying process with their help. They offer visual representations of concepts, historical events, scientific phenomena, and more, improving students’ comprehension of information.
  • Cultural and social awareness. Documentaries can help students explore cultural and social issues, emphasizing tolerance and empathy. They expose learners to different cultures and promote a more inclusive and global perspective. It is always better to see something than read about it a dozen times.
  • Media literacy. Documentaries provide an opportunity for teachers to introduce media literacy skills. Students can learn to analyze the documentary’s purpose critically, identify potential biases, evaluate sources, and differentiate between fact and opinion. Again, there is a strong need for an in-class discussion after watching a documentary.

Challenges of Using Documentaries in Education

  • Potential bias and subjectivity. We should not forget that documentaries are a form of media. Like any form of media, they can be subject to subjective interpretations. It is crucial for educators to critically evaluate the accuracy, objectivity, and reliability of the content before showing it to students. Students should be able to draw their own conclusions after listening to various viewpoints.
  • Incomplete or oversimplified content. Many students prefer watching a short documentary instead of reading dozens of pages in a textbook. Documentaries may present complex topics in a simplified or incomplete manner. Even though watching an explanatory video is a helpful tool, it should not substitute academic books and publications.
  • Lack of interactivity. Unlike interactive educational tools, documentaries are a passive medium that limits direct engagement and interaction. Teachers should incorporate additional activities and discussions to encourage active participation. After all, the goal of watching a documentary is to share ideas and discuss different points of view.

Ways of Incorporating Documentaries into the Studying Process

Now let’s consider possible ways of using documentaries in the educational process. These ways will highlight the educational value of this tool.

Introduction of a new topic. Before diving into a new topic, teachers can show a relevant documentary to give students an overview of the key points. Such an approach can create a context for upcoming classes and spark curiosity. For instance, talking about the exceptional nature of plants is not as exciting as watching a video, “The Secret Life of Plants.” It can spark the interest in students and prepare them for the next classes.

Reflection. After watching a documentary, teachers can facilitate class discussions to encourage critical thinking and reflection. Students can share their reactions, analyze the topic, and explore different perspectives presented in the documentary.

Cross-curricular connections. Documentaries often cover interdisciplinary topics. Teachers can use them to establish links between different subjects, promoting a holistic understanding of a theme or issue. For instance, a documentary on climate change can involve discussions in science, geography, and social studies classes.

Research opportunities. Documentaries can serve as a starting point for research projects or assignments. Students can dive deeper into specific aspects when they see something that sparks their interest.

In-сlass presentations. Students can be assigned to find and present documentaries on relevant topics. This approach encourages independent research, presentation skills, and peer learning.

Film analysis. This approach is especially beneficial for art majors. Teachers can guide students in analyzing documentary filmmaking techniques, such as storytelling, cinematography, and editing. They can also ask students to create their own mini-documentaries or video projects to demonstrate their learning.

By incorporating documentaries into the studying process, schools can enhance engagement, critical thinking, and students’ overall learning experience across various subjects and grade levels.

Summing Up

Modern documentaries remain a highly valuable tool in the educational process. While they have some crucial disadvantages, teachers can use various techniques to turn them into benefits for students. It is advisable for educators to employ a thoughtful approach when selecting and using documentaries, combining them with other resources. Educators should not overuse this tool as students might get used to shortcuts in their studying process. Documentaries can never substitute an in-depth research study. They are an excellent marketing tool. They attract students’ attention and invite them to take the first step to learning about new topics. The process then is in the hands of experienced and charismatic teachers.

Read On – Our Latest Top Documentaries Lists

Thomas B.