Onward we go!

 

Talk about great timing!  Out of the blue today at school, another band teacher I know (whom I didn’t know also taught grade 9 Social Studies) sent me a link to a video her class just finished producing.  Her class wrote, filmed and produced a short video about the election for CTV’s “My Vote” called “What I Would Like to Tell the Next Prime Minister.” She said it was featured on both “Canada AM” and the CTV National News.  What a wonderful way to start this journey into the world of video sharing sites and education.  After viewing this, it didn’t take me long to see the benefits of being able to produce and share your learning using video.  Take a look at her students work (I asked her permission to show it to you) by following this link:

http://mynews.ctv.ca/home_election?siteT=election

 

After being inspired by this video, I checked out Joanne’s Trailfire on video sharing.  The number of YouTube viewers in 2008 indicated  in the Wikepedia article were simply astounding – 3 billion!  Wow!  Mind you, as a parent I wasn’t that surprised since my three teenage boys seem to always be watching YouTube videos at home.  I think it’s one of their favorite things to do online.  The kind of “internet culture” that is described in the Wikepedia article is certainly evident in my house. 

 

I found the talk by Michael Wesch on the YouTube video “An anthropological introduction to YouTube” fascinating.  The first thing I thought of as I watched the video, was how the speaker held my attention. There were all kinds of special effects that helped to keep me interested.  I doubt I would have been half as interested in his ideas if I had just read them in an article or book.   There’s just something about film to get your attention, wouldn’t you agree?

 

I grew up in a T.V. world and I know lots of you have too.  Our children and students have not only been conditioned by T.V. but online videos, as well.  Whether it’s a good or a bad thing (we’ll leave that discussion for another time), they have come to expect to be entertained both in their lives at home and at school.  So using videos to teach curriculum concepts seems to be a natural fit.  Not only can videos help to keep a child’s attention, they can also serve to demonstrate learning as seen by the video linked above.

 

I can see simply from watching the “My Vote” video, how video sharing sites are helping to develop “new forms of empowerment” as described by Wesch.  Being able to create (and the creativity aspect are endless), take part in and share individual and collective stories and learning through video in easy to use video sharing sites like YouTube, TeacherTube Google video have allowed individuals and groups from around the world to connect in ways that were never possible before.  It is a truly constructionist way of learning that I believe will help to revolutionize the way teachers teach and students learn.

 

 With these positive thoughts swimming through my head, I proceeded to sign up for a YouTube account and check the site out.  I immediately went to the YouTube Handbook to figure out how I should proceed.  I’d recommend this for first time viewers as it helped me get orientated to the site and figure out at least the basics.

 

 What I found out exploring the site was that you can search for videos on virtually every topic (YouTube uses self-regulating tags to describe their videos), upload your own videos and share them with either the entire public or up to 25 friends, save your favorite videos (keeping me organized in a digital world), subscribe to feeds, and you can block certain users from seeing your videos.   

I was a little disappointed in YouTube’s uploading policy.  People are warned that unacceptable material is not to be uploaded but it would take a complaint of another patron (and not the company) to “force” YouTube to take the video off the site.  When I signed up for my account, it asked for my birthdate.  Is this supposed to deter anyone from under the age of 18 from signing up?  That’s really feeble.  I noticed that some of the top videos that came up under favorite downloads looked pretty suggestive.  No wonder they want (need???) to block YouTube at schools!  Never mind it takes up a lot of bandwidth, I wouldn’t want students of any age having free access to the videos I saw that came up in the first page, alone.

 

And ultimately, that is my biggest concern with YouTube from an educational standpoint.  There is simply too much questionable material on it for it to be used as a video sharing tool in schools.  Teachers can use YouTube if they are willing to convert the files at home but many teachers either don’t have the skill to do this or simply don’t want to be bothered.  (Perhaps it’s a lesson for the next technology-based professional development session). Although there’s lots of great material on YouTube, you have to search through a lot, sometimes, to find the “diamond in the rough.” However, great finds can be found such as this video I found on Web 2.0 which was so simple to add to my blog (all I had to do was copy the URL from the YouTube “share” button onto the video-linking tool in my post):

 

It’s fun to watch all the crazy videos and I know you can learn things, too, but I’m looking forward to checking out TeacherTube and Google video tomorrow, to see if it would be more suited to an educational setting.

 

Jo-Anne

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