“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.” –Andy Warhol

Warhol’s prognostication of future fame for all is appropriate when discussing the potential of digital video and multimedia creation in the classroom. Think about it–for around $1,500 anyone can be empowered with the tools of 21st-century video creation: a digital video camera and a computer with video editing software.

With such power, your students can become budding Francis Ford Coppolas or George Lucases. Or, they can participate in an exciting medium that truly can enhance learning.

What you need to begin

Apple is leading the way in providing easy access to tools for creating digital video with the inclusion of iMovie2 software on all of its new computers. Apple also offers the ability to create your own DVDs with its iDVD application (http://www.apple.com/idvd) on certain machines.

iMovie2 is a software package that allows you to import digital video clips for editing. After importing the clips, you can create short films by editing the clips as well as adding sound and transition effects. To illustrate the cost, standard iMacs begin at $799 for educational institutions. Or, you can purchase a midrange iMac for $1,099, including a CD-RW drive that offers you the ability to burn your own CDs.

On the PC side, video-editing software can be purchased for as little as $100. Try VideoWave, a demonstration version of which is available for downloading at http://www.mgisoft.com/video/videowave4. VideoWave 4 includes templates for quick video creation, as well as automated functions to assist in locating your taped scenes.

Like iMovie2, VideoWave offers several scene transition effects to add a professional look to your creations. You can even host your digital movies for free (up to 10 megabytes) at the VideoWave web site (http://share.videowave.com). While you’re there, take a peek at what others have created in the showcase area.

To complete the package, you’ll need a digital video camera, which starts around $800. Check out the Canon ZR10 DV Camcorder (http://www.canondv.com/zr10/index.html). Canon’s ZR10 is an easy-to-use digital video camera complete with four automatic lighting modes to aid in filming high-quality scenes: spotlight (for theater performances), sand and snow, portrait, and sports.

Focus, shutter speed, and exposure are all automatic, but you can control any of these yourself if you choose. You can also take as many as 700 still digital photos with this functional video camera.

Now that you are outfitted with appropriate hardware and software tools, you might ask, “How can I use multimedia to support learning?” Here are some ideas for effectively integrating digital video into educational practices.

Curriculum

I am always amazed at the enthusiasm that video can facilitate. Have you ever seen students who see themselves in a homemade video? As director of technology at a K-12 school, I have the opportunity to witness firsthand a plethora of reactions from students across the grade spectrum, from kindergarten students to high-school seniors.

Earlier this year, I videotaped fifth-grade students portraying Civil War-era historical figures, a fifth-grade Spanish class learning clothing through a fashion show, and first graders engaging an audience of parents in a Spanish play. With minimal effort using iMovie, I added a simple title and edited the digital video into QuickTime format. I uploaded the clips to our web site to showcase both student and teacher work.

Parents and students were pleased with these efforts and heaped praised upon the classroom teachers who asked me to help them. After the filming, I was asked on a daily basis by each student, “Is my clip up on the web yet?” Take a look at the finished versions at http://www.chadwick-k12.com (click on the Teachers’ Technology Showcase link).

Digital video offers an amazing mechanism to showcase the outstanding curriculum ideas that our teachers employ. For some interesting ideas for using digital video in the curriculum, visit Apple’s QuickTime TV for Learning (http://ali.apple.com/events/aliqttv) and Desktop Movies in Education (http://www.apple.com/education/dv) web pages.

Assessment

With a CD-RW drive, the integration possibilities become endless. Consider burning video clips of student projects onto a CD periodically throughout the year. Would it be feasible to use the technology to aid in building a student portfolio? Of course; each individual CD simultaneously would provide a rich amount of information for assessment, as well as an outstanding artifact for parents to treasure throughout their lives. Moreover, a school could keep a copy of each year’s work for all students and use these to measure individual progress over several years.

Digital video paired with examples of student work can yield powerful student portfolios. For examples of how schools are using digital portfolios, visit “The Digital Portfolio: A Richer Picture of Student Performance” at http://www.essentialschools.org/pubs/exhib_schdes/dp/dpframe.htm. To learn how to develop electronic portfolios, visit Helen Barrett’s “Using Technology to Support Alternative Assessment and Electronic Portfolios” page at http://transition.alaska.edu/www/portfolios.html and read “Electronic Portfolios: A New Idea in Assessment” at http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed390377.html.

Professional development

An excellent example of the use of digital video to support professional development is the Inquiry Learning Forum (http://ilf.crlt.indiana.edu), a project of the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at Indiana University (http://crlt.indiana.edu). As you probably are well aware, teachers perceive viewing other teachers teaching as the best possible professional development activity. The Inquiry Learning Forum uses streaming video clips to maximize the potential of virtual professional development.

As participatory members, Indiana mathematics and science teachers involved in the ILF project are able to view video vignettes of excellent teachers teaching. Along with the video clips of instruction, users can download artifacts of the class (examples of student work, lesson plans, class material, resources, etc.). Through this approach, teachers obtain a more holistic view of instruction, one they would just as easily achieve if visiting in person rather than online.

In addition to the lesson artifacts, teachers can view video clips of the instructor discussing his or her perceptions of what was intended or occurring during the lesson. This deconstruction offers a richer complexity for those engaging in this online professional development activity.

The ILF project is one of the finest models of effective online teacher professional development that exists. Clearly, the video clip–in tandem with instructional artifacts–is a powerful tool to support individual adult growth.

Your turn

These examples are intended to get the ball rolling. The possibilities truly are endless. As with other instructional tools, you must invest some time to reap the benefits. Yet, as you become more comfortable and employ creative energy, digital video will enhance the classroom experience of your students. Wouldn’t it be cool to have your classes create a television news magazine or video vignettes to support your curriculum? Go for it!