The medium of video has been through a revolution in the past decade. How we create it, how we share it, how we access it, and how experiencing it affects our lives has transformed multiple levels of our society, as well as reshaped the values and learning patterns of younger generations. Yet the way college professors use video to foster learning in their classes has changed much less significantly during the same time period. There are many opportunities here for improving learning, particularly at a distance.
When my first child was born in 2000, I was thrilled to spend about $700 on a digital cassette recorder that allowed me to capture his coos and gurgles on small tapes that had to be inserted into larger cassettes to play in our full-size VCR. These family artifacts, of course, were completely replaced by digital recording devices a few short years later when my next child was born. And today, I record their silly antics with the video camera on my iPhone and have the instant option to share them (publicly or privately) with relatives by clicking “Share to YouTube” (three hours of video is uploaded per minute from mobile devices to YouTube).
Further, the rapid increase in the spread of smartphone ownership continues to shift the playing field of how users access video. In 2011, video accounted for 50% of mobile traffic according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, and it is expected to increase twenty five fold by 2017. YouTube reports that videos viewed on mobile devices tripled in 2011.
Today, my son, who is now 12, has a Go Pro camera that he straps to his head while riding his bike, skateboarding, or just performing skits with his friends. It’s a rare day when he doesn’t create a video. After recording a file, he connects the camera to our iMac, adds cool flashes and explosions in vibrant colors to the raw video clips in Adobe After Effects, uploads the enhanced files into his YouTube account, and then merges the clips together online in a Web browser using the new built-in YouTube editor (complete with titles, transitions, and Creative Commons music to drop in). Then he publishes the video (with a “public” setting because, to him, anything else is “pointless”) and anxiously waits to see how many views the video receives, who subscribes to his channel, and whether anyone leaves a comment.
To my digital-native son, it is the quality of the socialization that surrounds the sharing of his video that validates the quality of his work. This is a tremendous disconnect between today’s youth and academia. If more college professors would participate in social media and begin to comprehend what it feels like to share your work and have it be commented on by the world, we would be taking one huge step forward to reflect and evaluate how the social era could be leveraged to craft relevant college learning experiences.
In addition to participation in social media, institutional leaders should also be encouraging faculty to adopt free to low-cost Web-based video tools that are not only cheaper and more accessible than enterprise solutions but also come along with a much more shallow learning curve. Today, most college faculty are part-time and many work at multiple institutions. Easy-to-use, free, cloud-based applications align nicely with the working realities of 21st-century faculty. While it’s true most free to low-cost video recording and hosting tools come with time limits, I think that’s a good thing! A 10-15 minute video limit is a terrific way to hone one’s instruction skills. If you can’t say it in 15 minutes, break it into two lessons.
Michelle’s Video Teaching Toolkit
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Check out my new book, Best Practices for Teaching with Emerging Technologies!
- Jing - I use this free screencasting and screencapture tool to respond to questions I receive from students via email. I just record a quick video for them using what’s on my computer (I demonstrate how to do something, rather than explain it in text!) and send them the link that Jing instantly creates for me (no need to email a bulky video!).
- YouTube – Most college instructors know how to use YouTube to find videos and share those videos with their students. But educators need to start curating their own YouTube Channels. Yes, creating and sharing your own videos. I use YouTube to host the brief, concise videos I create for my classes, some of which I create using the “Upload from Web Cam” feature which enables me to create instantly using nothing more than the tools built into my computer. When it’s appropriate, I set the videos to Public and share them with the world. When it’s not, I set them to “Unlisted” and embed them in my class so only my students can view them. When I’m using videos permanently in my class, I use the Captions feature to add closed captions for students who require or prefer to read the captions. Fast. Simple. Accessible. Free.
- Screencast-o-matic – For those of you who don’t have access to a premium screencasting application (like Camtastia or Screenflow) or for those of you who do but want something easier to use, check out Screencast-o-matic. It’s a fabulous tool that is free to use and runs right in your browser (it uses a Java applet that you will need to “Allow” upon launching the program). With a free account, record anything on your screen for up to 15-minutes and then either download the file to your computer as an .mp4 file or upload it directly to your YouTube account (nice option!). For $15/a year you have the option to upgrade to a premium account, which eliminates the small watermark that appears on the videos you create with the free account and adds some super-cool features like the ability to draw on the screen with your mouse and zoom in/out as you record!
- VoiceThread – I use this multipurpose, Web-based tool to upload videos, presentation slides, and documents. I record my comments on each slide and then share the VoiceThread, which is like a multimedia slideshow, with my students through a secure Group. My students leave their comments on each slide in either voice, video, or text. The flexibility of VoiceThread allows me to use it as an online teaching space in which I can return and comment back to students in the form of personalized video feedback. Previous students who have used VoiceThread have reported that they feel more motivated throughout a class and experience fewer hurt feelings because they can sense when their peers are being genuine or are concerned, subtle cues that are frequently misread in text-based discussions. Lots of ideas, tips, and resources for VoiceThread are here on my blog!
- Google+ Hangouts – These are sycnronous video chats that are “baked in” to Google+. They are free and accommodate up to 10 people. Hangouts come in two flavors: standard and “On Air,” which means your session will be broadcast simultaneously to a live stream via your YouTube Channel (and anywhere else you choose to insert the customized embed code provided when the Hangout is launched). The “On Air” function expands the 10-seats to an unlimited audience and it also archives the live stream to your YouTube Channel. Start to imagine the applications here in teaching and learning: student-led study groups, instructor led office hours or group tutor sessions, interviews, and debates — and how about just connecting with faculty at other campuses to learn about what’s happening there and discuss problems/obstacles/issues more openly and collaboratively? In August I began using Hangouts on Air for my monthly VoiceThread “office hour.” Learn more and view samples here.
- Scribblar – This interactive whiteboard tool supports live-time online collaboration around images and your own annotations. Text chat is built in an audio is also an option. If you want to get creative, use Screencast-o-matic to record your Scribblar sessions. Then upload the videos to YouTube or into a VoiceThread for an interactive, asynchronous office hour (as I explain in this blog post).
What’s Your Vision?
Video holds many possibilities for 21st-century learning — from humanizing the online classroom, to supporting diverse learners, to building stronger community ties between students, and providing authentic methods of assessment. Share your great ideas for using video in a comment below!