There are many ways to teach children, and today's educators have many tools available to do so. Video modeling, for instance, uses video-based behavior simulation to teach social, academic and play behaviors, along with other skills. When using this method, a child watches a video in which someone demonstrates an appropriate behavior and then the child mimics that behavior until he or she knows how to behave correctly in similar situations. Especially helpful for visual learners, the method is thought to be an effective way to teach, in part because a video can be reviewed as many times as necessary for a child to learn the lesson. As a form of cognitive intervention, video modeling is believed to help children with autism spectrum disorders.
Though video modeling is a broad term, referring to many types of exercises, there are a few main types that consistently come up in discussion of the topic. The first is basic modeling, which shows another person exhibiting the desired behavior. Point-of-view modeling might offer the chance to teach a learner from his or her perspective. Video prompting is a third major type of video modeling and usually refers to the step-by-step breakdown of complex behaviors into easily emulated pieces. Finally, self modeling shows the learner acting out a desired behavior.
A few scientific studies suggest that video modeling may be effective at teaching many behaviors, mostly focused on verbal and motor responses or social and learning skills. The most effective time to use video modeling as a teaching tool is thought to be from childhood through middle school — the age bracket studied in most of the related research. Videos can show a behavior over and over again in a controlled setting, which might allow a young learner to observe and repeat a behavior until it is fully understood. This might be extremely beneficial for special learners, especially those with autism spectrum disorders.
Video modeling is most often used to treat cases of autism in children. The medium has a high potential for success, based on research findings, and the benefits of this type of cognitive intervention usually center on areas of development affected by autism. Video modeling can provide a strong visual basis for teaching social and communication skills to autistic children who might not otherwise learn those skills. It can also allow for the exploration of certain behaviors or skills by an autistic learner from a variety of video-based perspectives, perhaps tapping into his or her unique personality.