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 blogger.com 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 SchoolwaxTv.com and School Tube.com   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.

 

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