Using video and social networking as tools within education
For most teachers, administrators and especially parents, you are probably already cringing yet perhaps engaged just seeing the word MySpace.
The stigma of social networks and video sharing such as www.youtube.com have had their fair share of bad publicity to instill fear into the hearts and minds of any responsible individual who cares for the well being of their kids, students and community.
As a dad with a 14 year old daughter (who my wife and I agree is still not allowed to have a social networking site), I’ve become convinced through countless web 2.0 and social network classes I’ve attended at media and technology conferences that we can not let fear make us miss the boat.
Do you remember when the internet was rising in education back in the 90’s? Do you recall how at first some people thought it was dangerous and disruptive to education? It sounds silly to even say those things now that we see the current applications and how our fear would have kept us from reaching our true and ever-expanding potential of learning without the internet.
Businesses, groups and many organizations have found the benefits in the ability to post videos, pictures, events and bulletins to tie in their members with useful information. Now just imagine if you did the same for your classroom through a technology that most students are already using while teaching them practical applications.
Your discussion on a certain topic will come to life as students are able to blog their comments, post pictures and create and share videos that take your discussion beyond the classroom and become links in a never-ending chain of learning, research, exploration and communication. Let’s take a look at some education safe software and practical applications.
Education Safe Software for Video Sharing
Many schools and districts have blocked www.youtube.com and www.myspace.com for valid reasons. (See links related to this article). This has been done for the safety and protection of teachers and students, but there are education safe alternatives.
School Tube TV (www.schooltube.com) is a consumer media company dedicated to supporting educational institutions and all their students to broadcast, watch, and share original videos as well as broadcast live educational topics worldwide through a web experience.
According to Carl Arizpe, SchoolTube founder and President, their mission is to educate and empower educators and students in safe effective video production and internet publishing.
“SchoolTube is the only Internet Video Publisher for teachers and students which combines dynamic curriculum and community outreach programs”, says Arizpe. “All videos must be approved by registered teachers, follow local school guidelines and adhere to the STN Code of Ethics.”
When a school becomes a member of SchoolTube, they will have access to lesson plans, equipment recommendations and many other resources to support teachers and students.
In my experience, me and my colleagues and many that I’ve instructed in workshops this summer have found School Tube TV to be the education safe alternative to www.youtube.com. In getting feedback from my class participants who are made up of superintendents, state directors, district administrators and teachers from every subject, generally speaking their comments are “two thumbs up”. They also like the aspect that all content is screened, and not only is the site used in an instructional way for teachers, but has a cutting-edge environment with great student appeal.
On SchoolTube, you can also easily post your videos to your space by clicking on the “grab video link” option, copy the code, and then paste to the video section of your space. (See examples below.)
I’ve seen some very educational and instructional student produced videos on SchoolTube, and many have been quite entertaining and humorous. But probably the best testimonial comes from my 9th grade daughter (a professional YouTube viewer I might add) gives SchoolTube two thumbs up as well.
Education Safe Social Networks
In this area, you can find what works best for you, but the two education safe social networks with which I have experience is
Ning for Education (http://education.ning.com/) and Classroom 2.0 (www.classroom20.com) and has some great tips on getting started.
One of the main features to look for is your ability to control the setup and outcome of your social network while maintaining as much privacy and security as you desire, with exceptional technology that allows for your ease of use as an administrator of your space.
Such as with SchoolTube, the screening process is vital. Rushton Hurley, executive director of NextVista.org (www.nextvista.org) says they have “seen the quantity effects of pursuing a quality standard by screening all content.” This will ensure your protection as an administrator as you network with other classroom spaces around the world.
Another factor for you first-timers is the simplicity versus complexity. Many teachers don’t get started with a social network because it’s one more learning curve they must tackle in a barrage of new initiatives. Rushton also says that “complexity and time commitment are formidable barriers to getting on board in any meaningful way.”
I have found that both Ning for Education and Classroom 2.0 are super easy to navigate, and I have received very positive feedback from participants in my workshops who considered themselves technologically challenged, yet they found it quite easy to navigate each of these sites especially when posting and sharing their video content.
I was first invited to join Ning for Education in March of 2008 as a presenter and instructor at CUE (Computer Users for Education) at their state-wide computer conference in California. We as presenters had the ability to post handouts, share knowledge and info in our area of expertise and display our instructional videos. By doing so, we created a better and more cohesive learning experience for thousands of attendees. These same concepts apply to the social network used in your classroom. And at this point, regardless of your position or the subject you teach, you should be getting some great ideas as to how use these concepts in your own classroom space.
Steps in Starting Your Space & Creative Applications
Whether you are teaching video in the classroom, math, science, history or social studies, there is an application for you. For those of you who have still not journeyed into the world of web 2.0 and social networks and video for your classroom, let some of these thoughts jumpstart your creativity. And for those tech-savvy educators that are currently using this technology, be sure and share your experiences with others with whom you have contact.
1. Start an education approved social network for your class with you as the administrator. (You should have the ability to set this to public or private. Many teachers choose private for classroom settings and optimum safety).
2. Shoot an introductory video welcoming them to your virtual classroom. (Tip: Give your social network a name, such as “Math Madness” or “Learning Universe”, or even something as simple as Mr. Jones History Class).
3. Post your welcome video on your home page. Since the fall 2008 school year is just around the corner, use summer planning to set up your network and shoot your welcome video.
4. Send the link to your students so they can create their own profiles using pictures, biography, music and video. (Now you’re speaking their language).
5. You can then distribute lesson plans, hold a blog or forum on topics discussed in class, record and share videos and pictures and even set up a calendar to post important events or exam dates.
Also, consider the possibilities when it comes to sharing with classrooms on other networks and especially in other parts of the world-talk about expanding your social studies topic!
In my last article (see http://www.school-video-news.com/index_files/CoreCurriculum.htm), I spoke about the many applications of video in the core curriculum. Once your space (virtual classroom or whatever you choose to call it) is created, this will be the perfect environment to create and share videos related to your subject matter.
I always enjoy seeing the comments on videos on a classroom space, and how typically unenthused students suddenly become researchers, analysts and writers who generate relative content as they dive into the topic or subject matter.
In teaching and connecting with students, I’ve noticed a dilemma we face in how they spend their time in non-educational social networks. Their activity fuels a fire of gossip, dating, flirting and unfortunately sometimes fatal practical jokes that make us question the tools we’ve placed in their hands.
And this leads us to the truth about tools and technology. Tools have power. They have the power to destroy, but when used properly they have the power to influence, enthuse, educate and to change the world in which we live, and students just need to be pointed in the right direction.
Now that you have these simple tips, what are you waiting for? Start your space, expand your classroom, and change the world.
Barry S. Britt is Executive Producer of Soundzabound Royalty Free Music and educator on new technologies for education.