Buttons, Menus and Wheels! Oh My!

This is my first article for SVN and I was undecided as to what to write about. Then I said to myself, "Ray, why change your teaching strategy.

Write about how you taught." So here goes. At the beginning of every school year I started my video production classes with lessons on the mechanical aspects of video cameras. I believed that the students had to know what all the buttons and switches on the video cameras were for. After lessons and hands on practice with the cameras, they students had to pass an operational competency test before they could move on to other lessons. The same was true for the VCR's. Today, students might ask, "What are VCR's?"

Video recording technology has changed but this basic learning principle must be applied. Students must know how to operate the all video cameras from the smallest simple palmcorders and to the any larger professional cameras that are available. I know from experience in dealing with many video teachers in Western Pennsylvania that many assume that since students have personal video cameras and cell phones that they know how to use the school's cameras. Assumptions do not belong in any classroom. English teachers can not assume that students know how to write because they own a computer. Nor can math teachers assume that students know how to process a math equation because they own a calculator. Throw out the assumptions and start with the basics in square one.

This principle also applies to the you, the video teacher. You must know how to operate the cameras and post-production equipment that you have. How can you teach the students to use the equipment if you do not know how to use it yourself? Additionally, when new equipment is purchased, you must go back to square one and learn how to use it. Assumptions are also bad in this situation. Don't assume that new cameras are the same as old cameras.

I had to go back to square one many times as a teacher and the owner of a home based photography and video production studio. Recently, I purchase a new DSLR camera. I have used a digital still camera for more than ten years and to be honest at this time, I still don't know all the functions on the new DSLR. I am working on it constantly. As a professional photographer, I can't afford to put out an inferior product because I didn't know how to use the new technology. You, as a video teacher, should not "short change" the students because you don't know how to use the classroom equipment.

I had a great rapport with my building administration and they permitted me to take new equipment home to learn it before I introduced it to my students. This might be something you can try since most teachers today do not have enough time during the school day to work with classroom equipment. Try it, it probably will work.

In summary, the students and teacher must know how to use the mechanical controls on the school's cameras before they can move on to learning production techniques. This is one basic ingredient that is absolutely necessary for a successful and rewarding video program.

Have a Happy.


RayAdamsRaymond S. Adams was a high school teacher from 1964 to 1995. He earned a BS Ed from California University of PA, an MS Ed from Duquesne University and a certificate as an Educational Media Specialist from Indiana University pf Pennsylvania. This Specialist Certificate enabled him to have the background to open a RayAdamsCoverhome based photography studio in 1969. As video became popular, video production became part of the studio's services.

During his teaching tenure, he taught photography, social studies and video production. In 1992 he published a textbook on video production, Video 101: A First Course in Video Production. In 1993, he was Pennsylvania's PPTN/PBS Instructional Television Teacher of the Year.

After retiring, he became an adjunct instructor at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he taught television production and methods of teaching history. Presently, he operates his photography and video studio. His business career has provided the opportunity to create photographic works in a variety of areas. The video production services has produced works for a great number of social, business and educational clients.