My Own Personal Learning: Video Sharing in My Life
It became clear to me this week that I have always been much more a consumer of video and a user of video sharing tools than a creator/contributor. I enjoy watching video clips of my relatives on Facebook and have enjoyed many YouTube clips shared by friends. I learn a great deal through short video from sites like YouTube. I find videos through my Twitter network that give me inspiration as an educator. I am obsessed with TED Talks.
But when it comes to producing video, I am much less enthralled. I have created videos for family events, forced myself to make videos in order to learn iMovie software, created classroom clips for workshops, etc. I also created a Google Search Story and uploaded it to YouTube this summer to see how that worked. Once in a while I use videos for entertainment--the JibJab movies are my favorites for special occasion (although I don't think this counts as video creation!)
Video creation is one thing that I have played with over and over and can't seem to find a place for in my personal life. I recently purchased a FlipVideo camera thinking that carrying it around would help me live life as a videographer--noticing things that would make great videos. But for me, the work of editing and publishing is rarely worth end product. I have taught myself the skills to create a basic video, but I have trouble finding audiences for my video creations that would invite video sharing.
New Learning About YouTube
Although I have created videos over in various formats over the last few years, I have not done much with YouTube or other video sharing sites. Since I already know how to create videos using Flip and iMovie software, I wanted to play with some other form of video. I've wanted to learn more about Screencasting video as I would love to create how-to videos for school as well as for family members who ask for tips on how to do certain things on their computers.
One thing I have learned about my own learning is that I need to create something that I see a need for when I am serious about learning a new tool. To create something for the sake of creation without audience in mind, rarely allows me to create a quality product. Since many of our students have Shelfari accounts, I thought I'd create a quick video to demonstrate how to add books to one of the shelves. I not only wanted to learn the creation tools, but I also wanted to see how long it would take to create this type of video and how simple it would be to create several for our website. I had no idea how complicated it would be. So, I gave it a try. My daughter and I created a Screencast using Snapz Pro X software:
The screencast was easy to make and to upload. YouTube really does make sharing simple. Because YouTube is blocked at our school, I will have to post the video to our school site. (In my exploration, I did notice that many videos like this one are hosted on a local site and archived on Youtube. Youtube seems like a great tool for this type of collection.)
I had no idea that YouTube could do other things, but when I went in to tag the video later, I noticed an Edit box that had some interesting options.
I went to the option marked "Annotations" to play around and found out that once the video is there, you can add all kinds of text bubbles and boxes throughout the video to further explain things. What a great tool!
You can also invite others to add annotations to the video.
As excited as I was about learning to Screencast, I am just as excited about this surprise learning-- the annotation option. I had not idea this was even possible until I accidentally discovered and played with it! Imagine what fun annotating can be on videos created with a camera!With my new learning and the new option for Screencast video, I am more interested in becoming a producer and contributor of videos.
The Role of Video Sharing in the Library
The video above is one of the first videos I saw that helped me see how powerful video could be in sharing the message about libraries with the public. I love the video and have shown it often since seeing it for the first time. It is a great message and is a fun clip to watch. I kept thinking about this as I read about video sharing this week. I realized how viral this video had become and I realized how amazing it still is to me that, even though I live in the United States, I could learn almost immediately from colleagues in Australia who were working toward the same things that I was.
In the "YouTube and Libraries" webinar/slideshare at Netspeed 2007 in Calgary, Jane Dysart suggested that we "View YouTube as a marketing & communication tool". In my research this week, I have seen this done often. Our own public library has created a video urging voters to vote yes for the upcoming levy on the ballot. I discovered the video on the library's homepage and then realized that it was also part of the Columbus Metropolitan Library YouTube channel that I didn't know existed.
Although I see the importance of this tool for library communications, especially in a school library, this type of video supports the idea of our students as consumers rather than creators of media. My main interest is in what video can do for student learning. I was especially interested in the article "Flipped: Want to Get Teens Excited About Summer Reading? Just Add Video by Jennifer Wooten (May 1, 2009 School Library Journal Online Newsletter). I thought that the purpose of teen created videos did more than get kids into the library. It did more than communicate a message about the library. Instead, it gave students an opportunity to engage in books in new ways and it invited non-typical patrons to begin to see the library in a new way. The author states,"For some of us, the goal of library programming may be to simply get kids into the library, while others strive to serve existing patrons. The idea behind our contest was a bit of both."
My Own Learning About Videos and Video Sharing with StudentsBecause I am interested in what role video plays in learning, I spent time observing our students. One of the things that I have enjoyed about the organization of this class is the ability to focus on one type of tool at a time. I notice that I tend to be thinking about the tool at work as I observe and reflect on student learning. I worked with 4th graders over 4 days inviting them to visit a few websites on a topic. I watched carefully as the students scanned websites quickly, only to discover they were looking for videos. I watched as students noticed another child had discovered a video and asked where to find it. It seemed that nothing else was worthwhile on a page--they were set on scanning for games and videos. I found that students expect for there to be a video on every website they visit. And, I was surprised to realize that on most children's websites, there actually are videos (and games and coloring sheets and puzzles...). These things seem to attract students because I think it is the videos that have the most potential for learning. Children of today are definitely consumers of video.
So, how do we move children beyond being merely a consumer of video and is that a goal we should have? Because video has become an important tool for communication of information, we need to think about what the role of film making is in today's libraries. This summer I had the opportunity to hear Joyce Valenza at BLC10. In her session, she mentioned that students in the library were comfortable with filming going on around them. I was amazed at the photo she showed of a group of kids filming a project, with others reading and studying in the background.(You can see a few kids in the background in this short clip.) I see film-making as an important way for our students to share information and I have been thinking about what this means for the school library. Can we all assume that our libraries will become places where film is created on a regular basis and it is just one of many things that students do in the library.
Taking Film to the Next Level--Video Sharing
Last year, I did a great deal with students about critical viewing as well as creation of film. I felt that the study was effective and students grew in the way they took in information because they had created it. Before the unit began, students believed everything they had seen in video "because it's there on a movie". But once they realized the abilities they had as a filmmaker they watched more critically. I found this to be a critical piece to media literacy and was happy with the results.
But, after this week's work, I realized that creating film is not enough. Just as with my own video creation, my students need a purpose and an audience for their work. If no one is to watch their videos, why put in the time to create them? I agree with Will Richardson in his book BLOGS, WIKIS, PODCASTS, AND OTHER POWERFUL WEB TOOLS FOR CLASSROOMS when he says, "Once again, the part about all of this that I love the most is that whatever you and your students create can be shared widely. And to me, that just changes the whole equation." (p. 123)
I spent time examining videos on sites I had heard about--students that were doing incredible things with video and making them public. One of my friend's children has a Youtube channel. One video on his channel teaches kids how to play a game that he created. He posted it on YouTube so kids would know how to play before they joined in the neighborhood game.
I also found several sites of student created book trailers and reviews. I wonder if that is where to start with video in the library. One great site is Book Trailers for Readers. I also LOVE the book reviews featured on the McKillop Library site. (McKillop has a unique way of creating book reviews without showing a photo/video of the student.) One of the things I realized is that many book reviews and videos made for a local site are also hosted on a global site such as YouTube or SchoolTube.
I looked at Mabry Middle School's site and Parkway's Film Festival Site. It seemed that the film-making was no different form other projects I had seen. The difference in all of these sames was in the public sharing--the authentic purpose and audience that students had for their work.
Because of sites like these, our students are capable of creating great pieces of film and sharing them with a global audience. In all that I have been reading, it seems that film gives students a way to communicate in a way that no other media does.
The Possibilities of School Tube for Elementary Students
I see possibilities for film in the school and library. The challenge for teachers seems to be in how to share these globally in a safe way. YouTube and other video sharing sites are blocked in our district as well as in many other districts. YouTube is the tool I knew best when it comes to video sharing. So I decided to take a look at School Tube and to really study it. In a recent article on School Video News, it was stated that, "The new clip culture is expanding rapidly, and SchoolTube provides organization, locality, and national exposure for our students’ quality videos." (September 2007) To be honest, I did not enter with an open mind. I am one who believes that we should teach children to navigate what is out there (YouTube) in a safe and responsible way) rather than create something that isn't used in the real world. I believe that teaching Internet safety is critical and that it would be best done in the real online world. That being said, I was more impressed with School Tube than I expected to be.
School Tube is a bit more complicated than YouTube. Channels for classrooms, schools and districts can be created with various features. School Tube has some free options for classrooms but it looks like the benefits come with a fee. For $495, schools can get a channel that allows for more options, including deciding which videos are private and who can view them.
I see huge possibilities with a service like School Tube. First of all, it is moderated by educators. Before you can get a channel on YouTube, you need proof that you are an educator and it appears that SchoolTube checks the information before allowing you to have a channel. Every video must be moderated by a teacher before it can be uploaded. (Students over the age of 13 can have their own account IF they list an educator as a moderator of their videos.) The site also allows for no comments. While this takes away a tiny bit of authenticity, it seems worthwhile since comments are often the things that become inappropriate or offensive. The site allows for public or private videos and members can view and use the videos available on the site. School Tube seems like the perfect solution to schools trying to incorporate video sharing but afraid of the issues surrounding YouTube.
Another thing that I liked about SchoolTube is their copyright policy. In uploaded videos, no copyrighted materials can be used without written authorization. This means that as students create video to upload to SchoolTube, part of the learning will be about Creative Commons as well as finding music and photos that are copyright free. To me, this seems to be a very purposeful way to teach kids about these issues.
If we want our students to be not only consumers of information but also producers and communicators of information, we need to give them the tools they need to do so. Video sharing sites give kids the tools they need to make video sharing purposeful.