September 2008

Video Just Can’t Be Beat!


I can’t think of any other medium that students like better than video.  How can you beat the sound and site stimulation of videos to engage students in the learning process? Have you ever watched your students suddenly come alive in the classroom at the mention of a video?  From what I have observed in the classroom, students preferred learning style is watching videos.  Add creating videos to this mix and you have a very powerful learning tool.


Our students have grown up with videos on the TV and Internet. It is a medium that they can tell their own stories and listen to the stories of others.  They are used to downloading their favourite clips from the net.  Why not harness that interest and create authentic learning experiences like the ones described by Linda Joseph in “Digital Storytelling” (MultiMedia & Internet@Schools; Jul/Aug 2006)?  Among the life skills Joseph notes students learn when creating their own “cultural histories” are cooperation, organization, communication and building a sense of community (p. 14). 


With prices dropping on small digital cameras and as Jefferson Graham writes in his article for USA Today, “Video websites pop up, invite postings,” the improvements that have been made with digital cameras in terms of their video-capturing capabilities such as smaller file sizes have made video sharing easy for the average person and I would argue, for the average student or teacher.  The sheer number of free video hosting sites that make video sharing possible have also grown by leaps and bounds in the past couple of years.  This makes video sharing all that more attractive and easy to do.  To get a sense of how many sites there are, check out Rate it All


The collaborative learning possibilities made possible by video sharing sites are unlimited.  Students can demonstrate their learning by creating their own videos, they can learn from the videos of their classmates and teachers and they can learn from and about others from around the world in the videos they share. 


Writing can improve as students compose scripts for their videos and respond to the videos of others.  As Brenda Dyck writes in her blog, “video clip[s] can be used to introduce a concept or theme, instigate a discussion, or serve as a writing prompt.”  Students’ creativity can soar as they design sets, props, and costumes.   They can learn new technical skills by learning how to film videos and produce them.  Videos can encourage the budding actors in the class and give an outlet to those interested in animation. 


In “A Teacher’s Tour of YouTube”  author Chris O’Neal lists numerous ways to use videos effectively in the classroom.  I particularly like his idea of using videos as a vehicle to teach media literacy skills.  Since our students are constantly bombarded with media images in their daily lives, I think educators need to do all they can to teach them how to view media with a critical eye.  As students begin to view videos more critically, O’Neal writes that would be an excellent opportunity to discuss issues regarding copyright. 


Teachers can use video sharing sites to find videos that will help them teach and reinforce curricular concepts.  They can join teacher networks that are interested in similar topics, add RSS feeds to get the latest videos on a particular topic and share materials.   Teachers could also create and share their own videos for both student and teacher use.    These videos could be linked to teachers’ blogs so that they can be viewed at any time by students and teachers.  If students had their own blogs, they could link their own videos to demonstrate their learning.   Some blog hosting sites like allow students to place their videos created in WMP Movie Maker directly onto the site (too bad I can’t do this in WordPress)



Encountering questionable material is the primary concern with video sharing sites.  Although O’Neal believes that the benefits of using video sharing sites in the classroom far outweigh the disadvantages especially in terms of having their students produce their own videos, teachers need to be aware that sites like YouTube and TeacherTube are “completely unfiltered and only mildly moderated.”  For this reason, teachers could find the videos they want at home (since YouTube is blocked at many schools this would be necessary anyways), convert them to a format that can be played in most school systems such as WMP and then show them to their students.  Teachers also have the option of using sites like and School   that are moderated.


Really, the possibilities are endless.  With a little pre-planning, video sharing is sure to be a Web 2.0 tool that will have students engaged in their learning for a long time to come.


Vodpod videos no longer available.
Sorry, I just had to see if this worked with Viddler that I examined in Blog #2 (4) and it does!
The only thing else I’d like to be able to do is post directly to my blog from a WMP or AVI file and then I wouldn’t have to use a video sharing site at all for others to see my videos but just my blog.  Can anyone tell me if you can do that in blogger?  I think you can because a teacher I know whose students have their own blogspot blogs put their Movie Maker videos (WMP) directly onto their blog.  My blog only allows jpg, jpeg, png, gif, pdf, doc, ppt and odt files.


Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “SchoolTube – Jing Along With US“, posted with vodpod



Now this is fun and a piece of cake.  It took me less than 5 seconds to add this to my blog.  And I’ve discovered a video sharing site that is school and student friendly.  SchoolTube is for educators and students and is fully moderated.  How great is that!


Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “TeacherTube – Do We Really Need Teach…“, posted with vodpod



Yeah!!!  I did it.  In my second post about video sharing sites, I wrote that I could only link a TeacherTube video to my site but I couldn’t put it directly onto by blog.  This was disappointing to me because I feel my blog would have more of a catchy visual presence by seeing the video directly.   But I discovered in WordPress today that I could download an icon onto my toolbar that would allow me to post videos from hundreds of sites just by clicking the icon.  The html of the video is embedded directly to a posting and then I can write whatever I want underneath it.  I like this so much that I want to find a video on another site and try it out again.  I’m going to go to to see if I can embed something from that video sharing site. 



It took at least an hour to upload this video of my son’s Suzuki violin group onto the Viddler site but it’s finally visible.  This would be a great way to share videos with the entire violin group.  Do you recognize the song?



Is anyone else’s head spinning like mine?


I’ve really noticed a steep learning curve this week exploring video sharing sites. For example, I have come across the word, codec, a few times this week and haven’t had a clue what it is until I’ve tried to either watch or embed a video.    From what I gather, a codec is a hardware device that must be present in order to convert analog to digital or digital to analog files.  A “codec” also serves to compress audio and video file sizes to make them more manageable.  It appears that there isn’t just one type of codec and depending on the circumstance you may need one or the other to convert your video or audio files to the format you want and either watch or embed it.  I don’t think I really quite get it yet but I’m trying! 


Speaking of formats, who knew there were so many different kinds?  Couldn’t the computer guys have decided on one or two to make our lives easier???  In the last few days I’ve seen AVI, MPEG, GIF, WHV, 3GP, MP$, WMA/ WAV, M4A. AAC, OGG and FLV files.  Today at school when I tried to use the photo site called Captioner, I forgot to tell my students that the site only accepts JPEGs so we had to take a step back and convert our PPt files to JPGs before we could proceed.  It’s little things like that that really turn off those who are not crazy about technology in the first place. Would you agree?  How comfortable are you with all the different file formats?  Does the average teacher need to know this stuff before they can make or watch a video?


Further to last week’s discussion on educational uses of photo sharing sites, the science teacher and I collaborated on a lesson on germs and the body’s defences against them.  The students used a copyright free site to find clip art of superheroes (defences) and villains (germs) and then we used Captioner to add captions describing the why, what, who, how and when of various germs and defence mechanisms.  The students loved it!


In my “junk mail” at school today, I was sent an invitation to check out a new educational video sharing site called SchoolWaxTv developed by a company called Etraffic Press.  Has anyone else heard of this? It bills itself as Canada’s first  instructional video sharing site “designed with
students, teachers, school administrators, and parents in mind.” Unlike YouTube and TeacherTube, SchoolWaxTv moderates all videos before they are placed on the site.  It guarantees that all content is safe and appropriate for school use.   There is no advertising and its a free service. 


According to the press release, “Etraffic Press is a British Columbia based publishing company that creates textbooks combined with online media for modern learners.  Etraffic builds customized course
content that match regional curriculum combining a variety of
technologies, online tools, gaming, and video media to enhance
the learning experience for today’s student.”


Does this all sound too good to be true? Well, if you’re willing to wait, your video might pass the “censors” and eventually get published so you can share it with others.  Although I like the idea of some type of moderation, I think waiting two weeks to see your video appear seems a bit excessive.  As well, the selection of educational videos to choose from is very small but I guess as time passes and others begin to share, the data base will increase.


Another video sharing site I invested today is called Viddler.  I immediately liked the clean look of this site and how easy it was to navigate so I decided to sign up and get an account.  There are no ads on Viddler which appealed to me from the start and you can tag your videos, search, and create links to flikr and twitter.  After downloading, videos can be commented on and embedded into other social applications.  The comments are moderated by the video creater much like blogs and you can share videos with your friends or the public or keep them private.  The ability to comment on videos makes this a true Web 2.0 tool.  Students could improve their writing skills and show learning by describing what they see in the videos in the comment area.


Like SchoolWaxTV, the database is small so there aren’t many videos to choose from especially from a educational standpoint.  Uploaded videos are also subjected to moderation by the site’s operator similar to SchoolWaxTV although all videos initially go up but may be taken down by the site operater if deemed inappropriate.  As a teacher, I would feel more confident letting my students use this site at school both to find and upload videos.  The only drawback for me is the time it takes to upload videos.  I tried to upload a three minute video and I gave up after 30 minutes.  For this reason, I don’t think it’s useable in schools which is really too bad because the site has many positive features. 


After examining four video sharing sites, I think that TeacherTube is the best option for educators.  Although it’s got some advertising on it, it does the job of uploading videos in a reasonable amount of time for both teacher and student-created videos, it allows for private/public sharing of videos and it has an extensive database filled with educational videos that won’t shock students if they’re surfing the site.




Hi Fellow Learners,



Is it just me or does TeacherTube feel a whole lot less intimidating than YouTube?  TeacherTube just seems so much more relaxed and professional.  Was it my imagination or did they ask less questions when signing up for an account with TeacherTube?  It seems less invasive somehow even though there’s still advertising.   I still think that the “over 18” question a joke and that you have to verify that you’re an educator to use the video sharing site.  How many teachers are under the age of 18 anyways?



As an educator constantly discussing copyright issues with my colleagues and students, I was heartened to see their copyright warning clearly visible.  It states: “Do not upload any TV shows, music videos, music concerts, or commercials without permission unless they consist entirely of content you created yourself. Please refer to our Copyright Tips page for some guidelines and links to help you determine whether your video infringes someone else’s copyright.”  Like YouTube, TeacherTube relies on others to “tag” inappropriate material. 

As a teacher, I like the fact that Google videos are moderated and you can search for google videos with a “strick filter” in place.  I

n the Terms & Conditions, Google Video is not required to host or display uploaded content. Google Video can refuse to host or allow links to content that violates its policies.  These include:


Yesterday when I tried YouTube for the first time, I couldn’t imagine uploading my video and sharing it publically.  Perhaps it’s the intended audience and the fact that it’s not so massive, but I didn’t have any difficulty sharing my own videos on TeacherTube.  The “Help” section was excellent.  I can see immediately why TeacherTube is not blocked at my school whereas YouTube is.  It doesn’t appeal to the masses and the videos are not so “risqué.”  I think it would be a far better place to place your own educational videos and those created by your students.  You have the option of deciding who gets to see your video so this might be the safe option for schools.



Using TeacherTube feels like entering a community of learners where I can learn from the teaching of others and share what I know as well.  This is an empowering feeling – one that I imagine students would feel seeing their work “on the big screen” and being shared with others.  Being able to tag your own and others’ videos and search the site is a great way to find the materials you are looking for as a teacher.  Having the ability to comment on videos and have others comment on your videos creates a collaborative learning community.



I decided to upload one of my own videos to TeacherTube about the merits of teacher-libarians in today’s information age.  It was extremely easy to upload my video to the TeacherTube site although you do have to be patient because it took at least 10 minutes to load each of my short videos.  


I thought it was going to be as easy to add my TeacherTube video to my blog as it was to upload the YouTube video but was I wrong.  I don’t think I’m able to show it in the same way as a YouTube video because I’ve chosen to use a template rather than build my blog from scratch which would have allowed me to edit the html.  I’m wondering if those of you who have chosen to create a blog using have the same difficulty with TeacherTube.  Quite frankly, I’m too tired to think about anything more right now so I’m just going to link my teacher-librarian TeacherTube video  and go to bed!





p.s.  I found a fun cartoon maker today which I think you and your students might really enjoy.  You can share all your cartoons with your friends.  It’s called The Cartoon Strip Creator.



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