“Who better to recruit [for a resistance movement] than a librarian when you’re dealing with a fledgling dictatorship?”
– Stephen King, Under the Dome, 2009, p. 719
If you want to know how I suggest video streaming can be used to deal with Darth Vader (and for that matter the Evil Emperor Darth Sidious), watch the video I’ve posted below. Note that I also make a complete arse of myself in it. The singing at the end may be a tad painful, so you are welcome to stop the video before I start in with that, as it’s for the benefit of my young sons. And I do apologize that my Leia hairbuns are not very visible against that backdrop and I managed to cut off the top of my head (not that the top of my head is all that interesting anyway), but I really didn’t feel like re-shooting the whole thing again. Also, I don’t think Leia would have a dress that horribly wrinkled, but I just pulled an old sheet out of a closet in a fit of inspiration. Finally, I do have a thing for Harrison Ford. Always have. Yes, my husband is aware of this, but since he will always honour his youthful crushes for Annie Lennox and Sigourney Weaver, we’re even.
As you can see, I have some reservations about the video I created. Yet I went through with it anyway, and put myself on the line. How can this be applied to the personal and the educational components of our lives as educators? And how can video sharing in general be used for personal, professional, and educational benefit?
Reflections on the Process of Learning About the Tool
I have never used video sharing for my own or my students’ creations, although I’ve watched and used many videos on sharing sites. Certainly I’ve made videos with students in the past. For instance, when I taught grade 3, my students made some great commercials for student-created products and services for “Stratford Mall” (our school’s name is “Stratford Hall”). Alas, I don’t have any examples of those as I just made multiple copies of CDs, which I gave to the students as keepsakes. My copies were shoved in a box somewhere now that I teach higher grades.
On the purely technical side, my Mac makes creating a video quite simple with it’s built-in camera. While I am, however, supposed to be able to share videos I create in iMovie directly into my YouTube account, I kept getting an “unknown error” message when I did this. Through an Internet search, I discovered that this is an apparently common problem. No one that I could find, however, had any solutions for the problem other than to export the video to my computer in e.g. QuickTime and then use the uploader on my YouTube account page. This solution did work, although I spent some time fiddling to improve the image quality (the text, for instance, was not viewable in my first attempt). I then tried a medium-sized video in the .m4v format, which was of a much better quality than the small Quicktime video.
As wonderful as my Mac is, however, I can’t get it to think for me yet in terms of creating a video with a message. My video does have a point. I wanted to expand on a couple of uses for video sharing, and then provide an example (that would be the singing part) that I could actually use personally. I did show the video to my boys and being only 3 and 5 years old, and much in love with anything Star Wars-related plus dress up, they were rather thrilled to see mommy singing to them as I normally do before bed, but dressed as Princess Leia.
As mentioned in my introduction, I’m clearly feeling a certain level of embarrassment about my video endeavour. Yet I did it anyway. Mike Wesch provides examples of early vlogs in this presentation. Many of these feature people who discuss the private versus public dichotomy of video sharing. Individuals’ behaviours are different in this medium than they might otherwise be when expressing themselves elsewhere (Wesch, 2008). I took a risk I might not have otherwise taken, yet put myself out there for potentially (in reality, just a few people, especially as it is not searchable) the world to see. This has important personal learning as well as teaching applications.
Discussion of the tool in terms of my own personal life and learning
As with photo sharing, on the professional level video sharing can be used for portfolio purposes, such as video presentations made to staff, students and parents, as well as a sampling of activities done in class. Examples of the latter are in the next section.
Video sharing is way to connect with other people and communities about issues important to you. The important thing might be ensuring you sing lullabies to your children when you are away as well as having far away relatives see the goofy thing your child did that morning, or it might be sharing your ideas about a major global (or Galactic – see my video) issue with like-minded folk elsewhere (and working to convince the not so like-minded). If a picture is worth a thousand words, than what are the possibilities with video?
Well, vlogs are an interesting way to record thoughts and memories. They may be an effective way to keep, for perpetuity, the stories and experiences from older members of families. This makes me think of the Veterans Affairs Canada project which interviewed Chinese-Canadians about their experiences of the Second World War as Chinese-Canadians. Perfect timing, by the way, for upcoming Remembrance Day.
I also find that one of the most brilliant things about video sharing is that I have a myriad of tutorials at my fingertips for a variety of everyday needs, both professional and personal. For instance, I have used YouTube to help me with basic household repairs. I also watched a video on YouTube showing how to put on hockey gear so I could dress my eldest son in it.
Video sharing also stretched me. I took a risk to present myself singing in a sort of public setting, but with less stage fright since my audience wasn’t right in front of me, although I was still nervous. I have sung in public before (not until the age of 30, mind you, and only on and off), but in an a capella church choir where the choir is largely hidden from view. I’ve certainly never sung in front of an audience on my own. I usually rely on the voices of others to disguise my mistakes. I also do fear speaking in front of other adults and large crowds of any kind (a cozy classroom setting is fine for me, but otherwise…), but have done this repeatedly throughout my life anyway out of sheer necessity. So, while not too intimidating, this video was a challenge for me, which is generally a positive thing. It was a skill building exercise important for work and life application.
Discussion of the tool in terms of teaching and learning
My experience with reduced “stage fright” using video might also be applicable to students. Just like blogging, vlogging and otherwise using video sharing might allow otherwise too nervous students to participate in their education more extensively than they might if they were only given the opportunity to express themselves in front of a class of students. In video they are still presenting to an audience and therefore pressured to perform well, but will have the luxury to take more time to formulate their thoughts (definitely a benefit if you are not a born wit). Furthermore, students may well (as I did) enjoy coming up with an alternate way of getting their understanding of a topic across to an audience.
Some other uses of video sharing in teaching and learning:
- Have students practice monologues, scenes etc. for drama classes. Not only is this is a good opportunity for students to see where they go wrong, but if shared, drama teachers and other thespians can provide feedback on technique.
- Practice movie making or commercial making (the latter might be good for a study of psychology too) skills – what is effective, what is not? Why?
- Have students use video sharing to send out a message to a broader audience such as this one done by some of our students on the topic of racism. They manage to kill several curricular birds with one stone here as they also experiment with the design cycle, play with movie-making magic and present their grade’s Taiko drumming skills as background music.
- Our students have also demonstrated their beginner French skills, and had a bit of silly fun in the process (note that unlike many local schools our students mostly learn Spanish from early on, and then jump into French later than is usual for a bit).
- Students can create book trailers to show understanding during literature circles and novel studies. There are a variety of professional book trailers available from Barnes and Noble (as well as author interviews etc.), which could be used both as models to inspire students, and as a promotional tool by librarians to encourage reading.
- Speaking of encouraging reading and library use, present this fun and well-done parody to students.
- Of course, as teacher-librarians take students and teachers through the process of creating video, we can also teach them about copyright issues as we go. Student will run into stumbling blocks with this – we can help steer them toward real solutions for their real conundrums.
- Students can create math tutorials such as these done for a colleague’s class. There are also a gazillion academic tutorials already created online for a variety of purposes and subjects, such as those found on the Khan Academy website.
- Teach students how to use the Internet safely. William Kist (2010) provides this link to teach students what not to do on the net.
- Record Skype interviews to share and as a result learn interviewing skills and glean more information from primary sources.
- Take advantage of Ustream TV (Richardson, 2010), which is a live TV streaming service. Students could have so much fun while learning if they were to e.g. present a round table discussion about a contentious topic (imagine call-ins from other students from other places and perspectives!), have a school newscast, talk-show etc.
- Kist (2010) asks “What indeed will happen to “assessment” and “grading” when the “product” that will be graded cannot even be visualized?” (p. 117). Teachers could create a video providing examples of how a marked assignment should be done either in the form of a video tutorial or by showcasing sample assignments, especially in the case of the performing arts, debating, or speech-making. Alternatively, teachers could give student exemplars from previous years.
- Regarding speech-making, I’ve recommended to students who have difficulties expressing themselves or asserting themselves to watch YouTube videos of great speech-makers so that these students may have models to emulate. I encourage these students to look at the body language, expressions, intonations etc. of the speakers and to practice these.
- Educators and students can take advantage of the free and legitimate offerings provided by the likes of the CBC or National Geographic on YouTube channels.
- Wesch (2008) mentions how Digg and Technorati provide ratings. Competitive students could work to ensure they create a video that will get attention and ratings (appropriately) about a topic of concern for them.
- As with photo sharing, increase student understanding of other cultures and places by viewing video shared by students from elsewhere.
I do have one major concern with the use of video sharing in education. As part of this assignment, I viewed numerous videos on both YouTube and TeacherTube, as well as some other sources, to get a sense of just how people are effectively using video sharing. As a matter of fact, I viewed far too many such videos and I have to admit using video sharing in an educational context is certainly fraught with the potential for distraction. YouTube, for instance, immediately plies the viewer with often tempting suggestions for further viewing. It can be hard to stop. Of course, like links on blogs, further video offerings can be a good thing when more related information is provided to the viewer. Therefore, rather than avoiding the use of video sharing in education, students need to be taught skills to organize their time wisely (and teachers need to wisely pick and choose the use of video in the classroom), perhaps using a timer telling them to move on. After all, its easy for many people to get lost and distracted in book stacks too, and I’d hardly discourage that.
Now, I’d better get that video of mine posted on this blog before I chicken out (second thoughts…).
Kist, W. (2010). The socially networked classroom: Teaching in the new media age. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Richardson, Will (2010). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
King, S. (2009). Under the dome: A novel. New York, NY: Gallery Books.
Wesch, M. (2008, July 26). An anthropological introduction to YouTube [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPAO-lZ4_hU