August 1, 1981 at 12:01 a.m. The first video ever to be broadcast on MTV. I had only started to listen to my own music three years earlier, when I received a portable record player (you know the kind with a lid that closed and a handle to carry it) and the Grease album. I graduated to a rather brick-like Sony Walkman, and would listen to cassettes for hours on end, often having to manually wind a cassette that had unwound.
Music videos revolutionized everything – the combination of visuals and storytelling were hypnotic, and we would gather every weekend at a friend’s house to watch the videos that we recorded from Friday Night Videos on VHS. We had no access to MTV or MuchMusic. These tapes that we clumsily edited by hitting stop and record on the remote control became a central part of our social network – we gathered together to sing and dance, telling stories about our crushes as we watched them over and over. Now kids tweet, post videos, and comment on social networking sites about their celebrity crushes.
And yet, my experience with film and video in class continued to be …
I was the designated film geek, the person to thread the machine, fix it when something went wrong, and generally run the show. This started in grade 2, and continued throughout my school career. Teachers ordered films from our district office two towns away, and even when I graduated from high school film reels were still the standard for viewing in school. There was a digital divide between home and school that remains to this day, where access to video is only the click of a mouse away.
My personal learning process with videosharing
I had not realized just how many videosharing sites are on the Internet until I started this investigation. I had been familiar with sites such as YouTube, TeacherTube, Google Video, Vimeo, and DailyMotion. Big Reboot lists 95 different videosharing sites:
I started with exploring SchoolTube, TeacherTube and YouTube, in order to compare ease of use, ability to create private groups for students, and access.
I decided to use a variety of methods to create videos, in order to compare the flexibility as well. I started with creating a simple introductory video using the webcam on my laptop. I had never recorded myself using the webcam, and after the first version shot in the kitchen with overhead lighting, I quickly deleted and then decided the softer light in the living room might make me look less pasty and lifeless!
Okay, so now I look creepy and jaundiced … and the video is somewhat out-of-sync, which seems appropriate for my current state of mind!
The winner in this case was YouTube – I can record directly using my webcam, and have the video uploaded quickly. With the others, I have to use my own software to record using my webcam, save the file, then upload.
I then moved on to experimenting with the video camera on my iPhone. I created two instructional videos for students to be posted on the library checkout stations as I am training all of the students to sign their books in and out. Once again, advantage YouTube. When I finish recording using my iPhone, I have a direct link to post my video to YouTube, and receive a confirmation message letting me view the final product. With Teacher Tube and SchoolTube, I have to wait until I can connect to a computer as the video files are too large to email. Then once the video is transferred, I can upload.
Finally, I created a Jing video to demonstrate for teachers how to book into the library using the Google calendar. Unfortunately, the video can only be posted to Screencast with the free account I signed up for. With the Pro account, I would be able to post my Jings directly to YouTube … also an advantage.
Along with the above advantages of YouTube, the sheer volume of videos being posted means that there is a great deal more choice, and also a great deal more that could be inappropriate for students. This is where TeacherTube, KidTube, and SchoolTube have the advantage. The moderation of content results in an environment that is controlled for students, and material is educationally relevant. However, as I searched for a specific topic, I found far greater choices on YouTube.
I have already used capture tools such as Zamzar to save YouTube videos in order to show them at school, due to the district blocking of YouTube in schools. I could see myself creating a channel in YouTube that only students are invited to (and then arranging with our tech to have student access), or selecting videos to either capture and save for sharing, or importing them into SchoolTube for student viewing.
Videosharing in my own personal life and learning
I love online videos – I probably watch at least a dozen per day that come to me through my Google Reader or a blog aggregator. These videos provide me with entertainment and the opportunity to hear the perspectives of others, including those that I strongly disagree with. The ebb and flow of popular culture now happens in a matter of minutes; the time it takes for a video to go viral. Internet superstars are created overnight, and often forgotten just as quickly … at least that’s probably what the Star Wars kid hoped for, as one of the first viral video stars. As a parent and a teacher, I feel it is important to stay in touch with pop culture and what the students are interested in. However, I am struggling to find some of this new breed of reality television celebrity redeemable in any way.
Through online videos, I have viewed instructional videos that have helped me learn to change a light fixture, train my dog to stop jumping, and deal with the weeds in my flower beds. If only there was a video to show me how to train my dog to eat the weeds!
Videosharing also supports my professional learning network, whether it is an inspiring TedTalk, or an anthropological history of YouTube.
It’s actually the work that Micheal Wesch is doing with his students at Kansas State that really has me rethinking Web 2.0. Digital Ethnography project videos. It’s not only the content and the inquiries they are making into digital culture, but the social network they are creating within the classroom and with the larger online community. In every interaction, I see mutual respect, curiosity, and engagement in learning that is sorely missing from many high school and post-secondary classrooms. It’s this level of engagement and relationship that I believe is essential to supporting our students to become effective learners in the 21st century world.
I’m also intrigued by the idea of a mediated culture, where participants are involved in creating the norms and testing out the boundaries of their personal identity as they interact with one another. In Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out, the authors hypothesize that
“those immersed in new digital tools and networks are engaged in an unprecedented exploration of language, games, social interaction, problem solving, and self-directed activity that leads to diverse forms of learning. These diverse forms of learning are reflected in expressions of identity, how individuals express independence and creativity, and in their ability to learn, exercise judgment, and think systematically.” (Ito et al, 2010)
As my interest is in literacy development in the middle years, I find these ideas of identity and community critical to our understanding of how to provide meaningful literacy experiences to students during this time of change. I am looking at how to use Flip video cameras to capture student voice around literacy and learning, and invite them to participate in creating videos as part of our library site (such as book trailers, website reviews, wonderings and learnings)
Videosharing to support teaching and learning
As I started to explore beyond simply mining the Internet for Muppets videos (it’s so addictive!), I really started to play with the possibilities of how I could harness videosharing in my role as a teacher-librarian in working with staff. Being half-time in two brand new schools, I struggle with the lack of institutional memory and the histories that teachers bring with them in terms of their understandings and expectations. I find there is a great deal of time needed to support and coach individual teachers, which is impossible when you are running from school to school. I find myself turning more and more to Web 2.0 tools to help organize my life and support the people I work with.
After creating calendars and systems for teachers to book the library (and working with them to develop an understanding of the role of a teacher-librarian), I decided to put together some tools to support them. I first started with creating a step-by-step of how to get into the district portal and go to the Google share calendar, using screen shots and written explanations. I then thought, why not model the use of technology to teach how to use the technology? I like having the opportunity to model and demonstrate for teachers, while providing those who need it with the scaffolding they may need to take that first step. As the staff look at how to incorporate technology, I hope to model how it can be used not only to engage learners, but also support learners with diverse needs.
When I sat down to create the short instructional videos, it took only a few minutes to record and upload each video. I organized the videos into a Library Procedures channel on YouTube, which could easily be linked to a library blog, Facebook page for the library, or sent as direct links to teachers. I am still playing with doing a library blog or Facebook page, but haven’t decided yet until I confirm what each school is doing with their webpage and whether we will be having district support for a MyLibrary site for K-9. What I love about posting the videos to YouTube or the Jings to Sharesite is that they can easily be sent to WordPress, Blogger, or Facebook. This connectivity really appeals to me. What I also like is that I can send the videos posted on YouTube over to SchoolTube, so that I can create a channel with instructional videos for students that will not be blocked by the district.
As I look ahead to how to support teachers in bringing videosharing into the classroom, I am interested in sharing with teachers the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. In “2001, the taxonomy, which was one-dimensional, was updated by Lorin Anderson and David Krathwohl by combining both the cognitive and knowledge dimensions into a two-dimensional model to reflect relevance to twenty-first-century work.” (Anderson and Krathwohl, 2001, as quoted in Berger and Trexler, 2009) In this revision, the higher levels of thinking are key, where students must demonstrate their understanding by analyzing and evaluating the information and then synthesizing it into something that expresses their understanding.
Image credit Educational Origami Wiki
I have used this revised taxonomy a great deal with teachers, and I believe that this understanding, combined with strategic pieces of the above graphic, will help them to understand the place of these tools in the classroom. Time constraints are always an issue for teachers, and if they can see how having students creating videos is a “high learning impact” activity, they may be more likely to try it.
I brought video into the classroom in my first year of teaching. It was the second week of school, and we had an assembly coming up where classes were expected to share something about their learning. I asked my students what they wanted to share, and their current obsession was with our class pet, a hamster named Baxter. So we brainstormed how a small animal could be shared with a gymnasium full of people. Before you knew it, we had a multimedia extravanganza. Video of our pet, students performing their poetry and sharing research and information about hamsters, and a student-composed piece performed on a portable synthesizer.
Well, we were the hit of the assembly … with the students. I was soon told by a colleague that I needed to stop showing off and start getting to know the other teachers, or I would have a very lonely year. So, our learning stayed within the classroom walls, and I made some very good friends who became my biggest supporters – critical for a new teacher.
Since then, I have continued to explore video with my students in different ways. This is an example early in my experimenting with movie creation of a grade 3 student project created using Movie Maker. They were using cameras to photograph images that they felt were strong metaphors for the main character in the novel they read.
BTW … he also composed his own music. I always seem to have these mini-Mozarts in my class!
Videosharing sites can be most powerful when they are not used as a replacement for the old 16 mm film projector. Our district already has a license for Unitedstreaming, where video content can be accessed. Videosharing sites should be for students to create and/or remix content, posting their videos, and then participating in feedback and further conversation. Participating in videosharing sites in this manner aligns with the American Association of School Librarians’ AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner
- Inquire, think critically and gain knowledge.
- Draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations and create new knowledge.
- Share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society.
- Pursue personal and aesthetic growth (AASL, p. 3)
Students creating, sharing, and commenting on videosharing sites allows for all of the above skills to be addressed. We should not be limiting their access, but rather, directly teaching and modelling the above skills using these sites. In a conversation with our junior high staff around literacy last week, teachers expressed concern over the students’ inability to take on other perspectives, think critically, or apply knowledge to new situations. Yet, they identified building vocabulary and essay writing as key skills to develop in junior high.
Creating and sharing videos, viewing videos covering diverse perspectives, and participating in conversations around those perspectives can be an engaging way to help students transfer knowledge and see other points of view.
Video production is also part of their online experience already. Teachers concerned about the time factor and limited access to computers can begin with storyboarding, where images, narrative and music are plotted out prior to any video being taken. The critical and creative thinking used to synthesize the images and words into a narrative that flows cover multiple curricular areas. Simple tools such as Photostory, iMovie or Animoto can be used to put the video together, or Flip cameras used as easy to manage tools for capturing video.
School districts and teachers continue to make the decision to limit student access to social networking and videosharing, believing that there needs to be protection from the unsavory content present on sites such as YouTube. Yet, as Richardson (2009) argues, “the other alternative is to teach students the skills they need to navigate the darker sides of the web safely and effectively.” I would agree that with younger students the protections need to be put in place, but as students move into upper elementary and junior high, we need to recognize that they are participating in an online world. As Ito, et. al (2010, p. 343) state:
“The problem lies not in the volume of access but the quality of participation and learning, and kids and adults need to first be on the same page on the normative questions of literacy and learning. … If parents can trust that their own values are being transmitted through their ongoing communication with their kids, then new media practices can be sites of shared focus rather than sites of anxiety and tension.”
I find myself now pondering this overarching question around Web 2.0 and our definition of and practices in literacy instruction:
It’s time to try and help our kids navigate these sites, learn how to participate in an ethical and respectful manner, and share their voice. As teachers, we cannot continue to control the content, the manner of presentation, and the access to information, or we will kill more than the radio star.
The current video star of the Internet …