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Grassroots Video in Post Secondary Schools
Grassroots Video in the Post Secondary Environment
A picture is worth a thousand words.
Videos are often made and used by faculty to record lectures, show a process, or to simply demonstrate how something operates. Many schools do not have the necessary funding to have video material professionally done and many faculty members are taking matters into their own hands and improving their course material on their own. They are using still cameras that have a video function, their personal video cameras, or handheld video camera that may be purchased by their department or school.
Once a video has been made by an instructor, it can be used in a variety of ways. It can be embedded into a Power Point presentation, or uploaded into learning management systems such as Web CT and Blackboard, or to a course web page. Some instructors will upload video content to ITunes U if it is supported by their school, and students can download content onto their personal computers or hand held devices.
Videos that show a process such as how to use a drill press or remove a propeller from an airplane might also be loaded onto hand held devices such as I Pods to be used right in the shop environment by the students. Or it can be loaded onto a laptop at a station in the shop where students can also view the material. In both cases students have opportunity to view the process and understand what needs to happen before attempting to perform it themselves. If these instructions are also uploaded to a network drive or a web server like ITunes U, students can download the material before the shop class in question to better be prepared for the tasks they will be performing.
Videos that show lecture material can also be uploaded to one of the venues just discussed; such as an LMS, course web page or ITunes U. Students may use this material to see a lecture that had been missed, or to review the material as part of their exam preparation process. Lecture material can also be very helpful for people in a distance learning environment. The University of California at Berkley has created their own You Tube Channel for faculty to upload lectures and other material.
UC Berkley You Tube Channel
Here is an example of a very short video that was made to simply show students how some of the controls relate and move in a helicopter. It is very short and has no audio, was made is a short period of time, and shows something that would be hard to explain to students. Many learners are “visual” and need to see how things work.
As well as make their own “grassroots” video, faculty may also employ videos made by others. There are internet sites such as Youtube.com that people can go to and search for videos that show just about anything. With SMART technology in the classroom, instructors can find these videos during the class time to help explain what it is they are teaching. The class can “explore” the web to find answers to questions or to see a process there that cannot be duplicated in the classroom, such as the autorotation of a helicopter or how something is done on an oil rig.
Below is a video from You Tube that would help an instructor explain the concept of helicopter autorotation in an aerodynamics class.
Video is also a very good tool for faculty to use in evaluation of teaching methods. By videotaping their lectures, they can evaluate how effective their teaching methods are and then improve upon them. Administrators may also use video as part of the evaluation of instruction process.
Many courses in the post secondary environment will have students use video as a media for an assignment. Students will use cameras that are owned by the department to present a topic to their classmates or show their classmates how to perform a task. If a student can show a process in a video to “teach” their classmates how to do something, they are forced to have a strong understanding of the material themselves. This makes the video process an excellent learning tool for both the students making the video and the students who will be watching it.
As part of the study process, students will often “google” or search out a topic on the internet and find various videos that have been made by others on their topic. This can be a great learning tool for students and they will often share their information with the rest of the class. After being previewed by the instructor, a link may be posted in an LMS or a course webpage, then viewed and discussed by everyone in the class.
Students also have access to all those videos discussed previously as being made by faculty. They can download videos onto PC’s, laptops, net-books, phones, hand held video devices such as IPods and soon IPads. They can be viewed at home as study material, on the bus to and from school to maximize that time, and also right in the classroom or shop environment. For students that are unsure of themselves using unfamiliar tools, they can watch the videos many times over until they feel comfortable with what they need to do. Students that may have ESL issues can view what they are required to do on a video and better understand the process then they would reading it in a book or having it explained. Most importantly, students can see what they need to learn instead of being the person in the back of the crowd when everyone is told to gather round for a demonstration.
One of the major pitfalls associated with grassroots video use in the post secondary environment has to do with those videos that are found on the Internet. Questions need to be asked as to their validity. Students need to become critical thinkers instead of believing whatever they see.
For instructors who make videos and post them online there may be a question of security. Where are these videos exactly and how may they be accessed by strangers. Instructors should be aware of what they are uploading and the security of the site they are uploading to.
What happens if a student has videos that were made for a class and he/she takes those videos out into industry and uses them in the workplace. Is there a liability issue that instructors need to be aware of? Do they need to be putting disclaimers on every video they make for their courses?
Also, instructors that are making videos on their own may make mistakes and there is no process in place for editing and corrections. It may be a good idea for people to let others view the material before they post it to ensure that it is appropriate and valid.
Students may spend too much time looking for pictures and video on the Internet and not enough with their textbook. It is easy to become distracted online and time slips past without any real accomplishment. There is also the question of whether students are viewing appropriate material in a school environment.
Existing Research, Implications for Teaching and Learning
The current global economic financial crisis, the easy availability of web video distribution platforms such as YouTube and iTunes, mixed with the growth and acceptance of professors allowing their lectures to be captured, has changed the way people “attend higher education”. In 2008, a MIT professor Walter H.G. Lewin allowed his lecture videos to be viewed for free on iTunes University, and has since become somewhat of a “web celebrity”, (Riismandel, P, 2009). These videos, and many similar videos since, have fueled a debate recently in higher education. If lectures can be captured on video, can students skip lectures, and watch the recorded session and be just as informed as someone who attended class? This is a hot topic issue currently being debated by educational professionals all over the world. You can basically find hours and hours of Professor Lewin’s videos on youtube, here’s a quick ten minute example:
After watching Lewin’s video, what do you think? Do you feel that grassroots videos are a viable option for attending a traditional Physics 801 graduate class? The debate continues.
There are now large websites designed for professors to upload higher education lecture videos for students to review. Some are internal and posted within University webpages where your student log-in and password will grant you access to review any of the past lectures for a class you are currently taking. Others are open to everyone and anyone to view, for free. A favorite is:
where you can toggle through multiple videos in basically any academic subject, (Videolectures.net).
A recent study done at the State University of New York Fredonia for an introductory psychology class had half of the class sit through a 30-minute lecture, and the other half of the class watch the iTunes University video. The students whom attended the class scored an average of 62 percent, meanwhile the students who watched the recorded lecture scored 71 percent (Carter, 2009). The on-line students had the opportunity to watch the lecture during their own schedule’s downtime, pause the lecture, and re-watch important parts of the lecture. Although this study is a great example of benefits for recorded lectures, 90 percent of all students surveyed still prefer traditional lectures (Carter, 2009).
With so much lecture material available on-line that anyone can access, there are so many informal learning options for students to view on most subjects to help them with their studies. However, the viewer must always be prepared to watch critically, and note that some of the content may not be approved or believed in your educational circles, locally biased, and may contradict your own professors’ or textbook arguments. These videos may not be totally objective either, and obvious cultural biases can be found throughout. Make sure to be critical of all non-published grassroots video found on-line.
Suggestions for Future Research Questions
One thing that may be missing from watching recorded sessions is the student-professor interactions. Perhaps more research can be done on what is actually gained by being on-site in a class during a lecture, rather than watching it afterwards.
One potential problem may be the fact that a student would not be able to ask questions in the lecture session, perhaps a live recorded lecture with instant messaging is the answer?
Do you feel that the traditional University lecture set-up is going to become obsolete?
How much carbon exhaust can be avoided by no one commuting to school lectures?
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