-----------------------------Grassroots Video in Elementary Schools-------------------------



Lights, Camera, Action! A silent hush fills the classroom as students hold back their giggles and focus into the camera. Excitement, engagement and ownership sit on their proud shoulders and creative ideas and quiet leaders emerge out of the blue. There is something about video that brings learning to life.

Although students are mostly those watching instructional or educational videos in class, the emerging technology in today’s society and the growth of grassroots video capabilities allows students the opportunity to create their own videos. Videos have an established history, within the primary and secondary schools, as a tool to enhance learning (Mardis, 2009).

Students are not the only people in the elementary school system using video. Grassroots video is also used by teachers for many different reasons. Mostly used in conjunction with curriculum based learning activities and materials, teachers use video as a supporting tool in their classroom to introduce, conclude or support concepts within their plans (Mardis, 2009).

Grassroots video also provides teachers with the opportunity to share and learn together. Short tutorial videos and lesson ideas can be shared via video exchange networks to help with professional development and teacher preparation. Teachers have the ability to observe, review and model exemplary teaching techniques and practices to improve their teaching methods (Mardis 2009).

Learning resource teachers, special education teachers and other personnel in schools have also made use of grassroots video as a chance to document behaviours and activities of students in order to identify strengths and weaknesses within a student or a classroom (Mardis 2009).

Within the elementary school system ICT’s (Information and Communication Technologies Teachers), CCT (Computer Contact Teachers) and Library Media Specialist are designated specialists in the school to aid with a plethora of technology related issues. Video equipment, editing software or any associated equipment and procedures may be directed or used by them in many tutorials, support or training.

Be it a self created video, a tutorial, professional learning tools for teachers or a tool to strengthen your lesson; grassroots video is at our finger tips and allows learning to come alive.


Freedom, creativity and sharing; grassroots video can provide an outlet for all of these abilities. Within the elementary school system, grassroots video has proven itself to have many beneficial uses:
  • Teachers now use video in innovative, non-traditional ways like to stimulate class discussion, reinforce concepts, as a hook at the beginning of a lesson or to give a visual – live action reference for students (Mardis, 2009).
  • The teacher is responsible to make sure they contextualize the video and integrate the videos into the classroom with purpose – this is a critical factor.
  • According to a study in Viewing Michigan's Digital Future: Results of a Survey of Educators' Use of Digital Video in the USA (2009) teachers top three reasons for using video were; ability to diversify resources used in teaching, connection between content and needs, and lastly to help with instructional differentiation.
  • One noted discovery in a study by Knowlton and Tilton from 1929 indicated that the use of films in seventh grade classrooms provided much educational value which heightened when used effectively in the classroom. How these videos are used in the classroom will effect how beneficial and supportive of a tool they can be (Molenda 2009). In the present day teachers have access to many different forms of videos, especially grassroots videos.
  • GRV (Grassroots video) can be used to collect data or record classroom activity (as guest speakers, demonstrations, presentations, etc.)
  • GRV can record student performances and help provide feedback.
  • Teachers and students can share images, opinions, and perspectives from home, the community and outside of the school (Information Technologies Research Team, Penn State).
  • “GRV can also cultivate important digital literary skills of critical importance to students entering a world in which success increasingly depends upon an ability to present, manipulate, disseminate, and critically evaluate information in a variety of forms” (Information Technologies Research Team, Penn State).
  • GRV gives people, in this case students and teachers, an empowering voice which can extend the “vocabulary” and open new opportunities for a media-rich dialog (Information Technologies Research Team, Penn State).


Video is becoming easily accessible thanks to the internet. With current technologies out there, the growth of grassroots video has become even more of an enticing tool to use in elementary school (Mardis, 2009).

The following is a grassroots video made by an elementary student using simple equipment.

The following applications and sites are some of the many ways you can access, create and obtain grassroots videos all for free!

(which has combined with both the AIMS Multimedia and Rainbow Educational Media companies in August
2004, who were two of the largest providers of video for classrooms)
(Mardis, 2009).

Another example of how grassroots video is being use is through video modeling. This technique is derived from the social learning theory. Here, and individual will watch a video of her/himself/or someone similar engage in certain behaviors that are being targeted for improvement.

Video modeling is extremely beneficial as it includes “demonstrations of desired skills in
relevant contexts, use of multiple stimulus and response exemplars, and standardization of the presentation of training, allowing for consistency” (Baker, S., Lang, R., & O'Reilly, M. 2009).


Research studies over the years have identified many benefits of using grassroots video within their teaching and learning.

To discover a versatile tool that supports your teaching and the students learning can be seen to many as an early birthday present. For a multimedia instructional tool, like grassroots video, to be so complimentary and appeal to teachers who follow Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, cater to various learning styles and differentiated instruction can enhance the learner’s understanding and recall ability (Mardis, 2009).

Many positive educational outcomes have been indicated in classrooms that used videos from the unitedstreamingTM web-based service (Mardis, 2009). Other positive uses of grassroots video that have proven to be very beneficial with teaching and learning are:
  • Shorter clips allow teachers the opportunity to focus on a specific concept or enforce cross curricular learning.
  • Can be used in a variety of learning environments; physical education/coaching/training, Mathematics, Language arts, business etc…
  • Educator’s have the ability to ‘show’ what they need to or what is topic specific to help them with time constraints and preparation.
  • GRV can be used as a support accompanied by other materials or as the main focus to support instruction in the classroom.
  • Supports student learning, visual literacy and higher order thinking when used effectively

The value of this trend can be seen in the instructional strategies by teachers using GRV and subsequently the results learners produce when using GRV in their studies. This technology trend has grown world wide and has reached the masses. Usable content and creativity emerging from grassroots video is a rather trendy way to engaged students in a modern, relevant and practical fashion. Easy accessibility to equipment for creation, sharing and accessing content is at our fingers tips, even in the elementary classroom (Penn State (information Technologies Research Team). This empowering tool focuses on instruction and design, both social and linking skills that can be molded in any learning environment (Baker, S., Lang, R., & O'Reilly, M. (2009).

Potential Pitfalls:

Not everything in life is perfect and it can be expected that with such a widely used and available technology the ‘rules’ for grassroots video are almost none existent. Also, with any emerging trend, there are bound to be some glitches that haven’t been ironed out.

Along with many other tools existing out there, the table below indicates some of the most common pitfalls in regards to GRV in the elementary educational system.

  • Delays in physical or online access
  • Limited appropriate/language video selection
  • Whole class participation instead of individual learning
  • Reported inadequate bandwidth
  • Major GVR sites, such as YouTube, can be uncertain when it comes to content
  • School Boards blocking free sites such as YouTube, Teacher Tube, etc...
  • Lack of technology support
  • Lack of or availability of equipment
  • Pace, length and quality can be detrimental
  • Immediacy and practicality in relationship to topic
( Mardis, 2009), (Molenda, 2009)

The Future:

Technologies will continue to develop and as they do creating and share videos using small, inexpensive personal electronic devices will become easier for everyone.

The ever popular YouTube model will continue to expand and similar sites like 12seconds.tv and Ustream will take GRV to a new level. Already they are demonstrating how people are creatively using grassroots video. For example, 12seconds.tv allows users to cre­ate 12-second video updates, similar the text updates of the well known Twitter (Penn State Information Technologies Research Team).

It is my hope that the future will continue to make GRV quick, simple and easy to create, share and access appropriate kid and education friendly videos online to support teaching and learning in the elementary education system.


Three years ago you would not have found much research on grassroots video and the applications in the classroom. In 2008 the Horizon Report named grassroots video as one of six emerging technologies that would enter mainstream use within the next year. Today, creating, managing and using grassroots video’s in the classroom is becoming a more investigated topic. File sharing sites have been growing steadily since the introduction of Napster in 2001. YouTube, a video file-sharing site began in February of 2005 and today shows more than 100 million video clips per day (Talab & Butler, 2008). What does this mean for educators? The current generation of students is one of the first to have been completely immersed in digital technologies and teachers want to tap into this culture to help deliver lessons. Since informal videos are often created in an anything-goes environment that favours low production, simplicity and entertainment educators have to find a way integrate these videos into their classrooms (Bull, Thomspson, Searson, & Garofalo, 2008). This is not an easy task, so educators turn to the existing research and information to help their cause.

The existing research and information on GVR is directed towards educators with average technical savvy who are looking for ways to connect and hook their students to the curriculum they are teaching. The existing information is more of a 'how to guide' when it comes to implementing video clips and segments in the class. Listed below are three articles published from 2007 to the present from various technology magazines and journals. These articles show what has been offered to educators over the last three years when it comes to using grassroots video in the classroom.

Future Research Questions at the Elementary Level

With a few exceptions, most educators would label themselves as dabblers who flirt with different technologies. Powerpoint, SMART technology, webpages, emails, wiki's, most teachers use bits and pieces of technology to round out their lessons. Many teachers balk at the idea of learning how to integrate yet another form of technology into their practice. For educators to be completely sold on the idea of using GRV in their classroom, future research and information is going to have to provide elementary educators with concrete proof that this form of technology is beneficial, appropriate and safe to use in their classrooms. Some future questions elementary educators might have about GRV;

- In elementary classes, is using YouTube as a learning tool age appropriate?

- How do parents of elementary students feel about teachers using GRV in the classroom?

- What sort of copyright, privacy and guidelines to educators, administrators and school districts need to be aware of when using GRV?

- Social skill lessons are so important at the elementary level. If elementary teachers use GRV will they see an improvement in social skills and development.

- How can GRV be effective in language arts and math classes? (Arguably the two most important subjects at the elementary level).

- What kind of in-service or professional development opportunity is available to help teachers be more willing to use GRV in the classroom setting.

- Will the new wave of elementary teachers bring knowledge and understanding in ways in which technology, pedagogy and content knowledge can be combined?

Research Conclusion : Implications for Teaching and Learning

Students in todays classes have been immersed in digital technologies for their whole lives. Cell phones, blogs, wikis, instant messaging, texting, Facebook, Twitter are all digital applications that today's students are familiar with. Students today are directing, producing and starring in a real-time documentary of how our times are changing. (Bull, Thomspson, Searson, & Garofalo, 2008). A new digital way of thinking is emerging that teacher's need to be familiar with and harness in a school setting (Bull, Thomspson, Searson, & Garofalo, 2008). GRV is one of the new digital ways of thinking that can have positive results on teaching and learning. Simply put, grassroots video allow educators the opportunity to communicate with students on a equal level.