Post 3: Video Killed the Faculty Star
You remember the feeling from your elementary school days. That all to perfect moment when, the teacher stepped away from the chalk board, rolled out the a/v cart, hit the play button (or, gasp, fed in the film reel to the dusty projector) and retreated to the back of the class for…. a movie.
However, the longer we are in school, those precious opportunities to spend whole periods engrossed in Bill Nye episodes obviously dwindles. In higher education especially the impetus of knowledge transfer, critical thinking and philosophical pondering often takes priority over entertainment. Is there something to be considered when a six-minute Funny or Die “Drunk History” clip can not only explain the history behind father of western technology, but also make it memorable?
My Visual Ooompf! dribble today aims to reposition our beloved “video” as a useful lecture and learning tool.
Videos have a place in the university classroom
This past winter, I attended an engineering lecture on the titillating topic of pumps. As I sat in Convocation Hall, amongst the 300 + young and occasionally distracted undergrads, I witnessed first hand the power a College Humor video had on re-engaging a group. During the traditional lecture part of the lesson, some students tuned in an out, impressively talking to their friends, playing games on their phones, and eating breakfast, all the while jotting down the odd lecture note. About a quarter into the lecture the lecturer switched gears, clicked on a pre-loaded video link and suddenly things changed. More students looked to the front of the class and some actually laughed. While many still talked to their friends, I heard a couple people actually talking about the video!
I’m not saying that videos are better than live humans for engaging a group. I only mean to illustrate that the act of breaking up the lecture with a visual tool, using a wildly different tone, is an awesome way to re energize and draw more of the class’s attention to the topic.
The example I witnessed in the engineering lecture was also a good illustration of general video showing best practices:
- the faculty member set up the video asking a question to help guide the viewers while they watch (showing videos does not mean people get a brain break)
- this is an obvious one, but the video was related to the lesson topic
- the video was relatively short in length
- at the end of the clip, the faculty member asked a question and invited student reactions (this could even be done in groups as a collaborative exercise or dare I say, “Think-Pair-Share?)
Moving from thinking about using video clips to actually using them in your class requires a necessary (and, I admit, somewhat cumbersome) discussion on Copyright. If you are going to show a clip in class you are automatically entering the realm of Canadian Copyright Act.
While it may be tempting to gloss over the question of Copyright, it is important to remember that Canada’s Fair Dealing (or what some dangerously think of as a “get out of jail free” card) is much more strict within the categories of education and teaching than the US’s Fair Use.
If you have questions about Copyright always err on the side of caution and contact the Copyright holder directly or CTSI (email@example.com) for guidance. Avoid a fight, use it right.
Getting the Goods
One of the major hurdles that can dissuade faculty from using video is the stress of finding quality video for a class. Chris O’Neal, a blogger from Edutopia.org, calls YouTube a “giant video flea market,” which gives you the gist of the type of labour involved in retrieving useful clips with what can seem like
a big mess of junk.
There is no way around it – using videos to add oompf to your lectures does require extra effort. Below are several sites, which may help you in building your “classroom clips” library.
http://www.scivee.tv/node/11161 – scientific research clips
http://www.bigthink.com/ – philosophical discussions on “big issues”
http://www.snagfilms.com/- amazing source for independent movies free to use as an educational tool, on demand!
http://www.ted.com/ – public lectures by some real visionary people
AV Catalogue searching Search Media Commons AV holdings in the Library catalogue by broad research topic.
AV Subject Searching Connect to Media Commons AV holdings in the Library catalogue by broad research topic, such as gender diversity or visual arts.
Online Video Resources A growing number of online video resources is now offered by U of T Libraries, available for classroom and individual streaming.
Resources & Links
Embracing videos in university classrooms beyond the level of instructional “bells and whistles” does not have to pander to the nostalgic idea of a thoughtless movie period or shift anyone’s core teacher values. Punctuating every lecture with a snappy YouTube clip would (I guess) grow old. Videos and interactive elements of visual entertainment should always support the timeless and simple goal, furthering student learning. That being said, learning about gravity is so much more fun watching Bill Nye throw stuff off of a roof. .