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.