Monday, February 4, 2008

Blog Post #2

Blog Post #2
Video sharing sites.
Several months ago a few teachers and I were in the staff room (enjoying our third cup of coffee) chatting about YouTube. One of the teachers was adament that the program be taken off of the school computers. I wasn't surprised, as I too felt that the students abused this video sharing site when they were on the computers. We decided to do some research in this area and find out if our students were using this tool educationally, or abusing it. We created a communications book and we kept it in the computer lab. Every time one of our classes had computers we would jot down a few bits about whether or not our students had used YouTube and if so to what extent. Several weeks later we met to dicsuss it and several of us were not surprised at what we found. Most students were using YouTube to try and watch innapropriate music videos or other videos of silly and innapropriate nature . Not once did we record students using it in an educational way. It is easy to think that we, as the teachers, weren't particular about what our students were doing in the computer room, but we were. However, when students are in the computer lab for research purposes they are allowed to use most internet sites that are appropriate, YouTube included. To make a long story shorter we all decided to do a workshop for students on the ins and outs of researching on YouTube and other video sharing sites. We covered things such as how to search for videos related to curriculum content and how to share videos you thought were educational, with a friend. We didn't expect too much to come from this workshop, but we thought we would try one last thing before we forbid the use of YouTube in our school (it was a small school). The results from the workshop were amazing...it turns out that the students loved researching curriculum content on YouTube once they knew how to do it. It is much funnier to watch a short video on something than it is to read about it in an encyclopedia (frogs for example). Needless to say we did allow our students to use YouTube for the rest of the year in appropriate ways that they had been taught about, and it went well.
Doug Achterman, an author of one of our class articles "Surviving Wikipedia..." also suggests that it is important to improve the search habits that students use when exploring websites. He discusses collaboration amongst teachers as being a way in which they can plan together to gather "information literacy skills" in order to educate themselves and their students in regards to imroving search habits.Although Achterman's article focuses on Wikipedia searches it brings up the importance of realizing that not everything you see on these websites should be taken at face-value. Videos on most of these video sharing sites, like Wikipedia, can be posted by anybody. This increase the risk that many of them will not be accurate or factual and need to be looked at in a critical manner. As I noticed when I typed in a few subjects in the YouTube search engines much of what came up was there to get a few laughs. We need well-informed students who don't just believe everything they see, but rather look closer through a lens. This, Achterman suggests, is a student that is "information literate."
While exploring video sharing sites for EDES 545 I came across Teachertube, which was mentioned in the outline. This site is amazing...like YouTube without the ridiculous content. I love how you can type anything into the search engine and a listing of videos related to that topic comes up....and it doesn't have anything to do with pornography or incredibly gruesome topics!!! Not to say that this is all that YouTube has, but it is a more difficult website to narrow searches within. I immediately set up a profile (search jcloke) and began my journey into educational videos. I cannot believe there are even channels you can visit. For example if you are interested in getting information on something within the Science field you simply go to the Science channel and explore what they have...or even search within it for something more specific!! The tutorials are excellent...you can actually watch tutorials on other teachers instructing their classes to get ideas for your class. There are student movies, groups for individuals to gather and chat, teacher blogs and even "recently updated" and "most watched" videos. A very convenient video sharing site for everybody, especially teachers. I could even see myself bringing my mac computer into the classroom and showing one of the videos on a projection screen. That is actually an idea I am considering for a unit I am doing on hibernation. The site also gave me many ideas that other teachers have used successfully in teaching their hibernation units.
I researched a few more video sharing sites once I discovered that there were several different "types of them" 1 User generated video sharing 2 Video Sharing Platform / White Label Providers 3 Open Source Video Sharing Platforms 4 Web based video editing 5 See also . Although YouTube was definitely the most widely used, I found the following quite useful; IFilm, GoFish and EngageMedia. I also came across an interesting article entitled "The Value of E-Learning with YouTube: Video Sharing for Education." The article reminds us of how mainstream YouTube has become and how easily accessible it is for everyone to upload or download videos. It also dives into an important issue that never really crossed my mind too much concerning video sharing sites, which is their advertising techniques and the effects of these on students. This likely caught my eye because about a year ago I came across a class (I was a Teacher-on-Call) that was doing an assignment on Reality versus Media. The students were to divide a paper in half and compare what media portrays and what was a reality concerning the same topic. Several students discovered through this that what the websites and tv comsider reality are actually just ways to sell things to people. Students discovered that what was really "cool" was being an individual and not following others. Although this seems slightly off-topic it made me realize just how much media messages on sites such as YouTube affect the students. I think it is important to cover the fact that this is all done to sell, sell, sell, and that just because you don't do it or have it doesn't mean you don't fit in.
Anyways back to the rest of the article...The article also mentions that class projects and presentations can really be enhanced by using video sharing sites. For example, the article suggests showing an instructional video on the step-by-step instructions for doing something that is related to their topic. The article also discusses the collaboration that these sites allow between groups of people that use them. I noticed on most of the video sharing sites they have places for you to join groups of people that you likely have things in comon with
Video Sharing sites are definitely useful in schools as long as they are being used appropriately, like anything on the internet really. Educating students on the ways to use these sites for research purposes is helpful because we cannot assume that they already know this. In fact many students probably only know how to search for a few types of videos, like music videos for instance, from watching their classmates or friends. Educating them about the possibilities of using these websites, like learning how to do origami step-by-step for example, will help them use it appropriately for school.

6 comments:

Val said...

Hi Jean:
It sounds like a great workshop that re-focused the students and made it a great learning opportunity.
Good stuff!
Cheers
Val

Katie said...

Hi Jean,
YouTube is actually blocked in our school- by the division. Being in the library, I found that they were just using it to watch inappropriate videos. At first I didn't have much of a problem with it, as it would cut down on the amount of policing I would have to do, but then I realized that I use it a lot in my weather unit and would be unable to! Also we offer a class here called Computer Production and Technology and one major component is to create and edit videos, so YouTube is a very important tool. I would love to see the staff get together and have a little seminar for students about appropriate use! Sounds like it worked well!

Katie

Arlene said...

Hi Jean, I'd love to hear more about your video sharing workshop so that I could do one for my staff. This would so great for students. Arlene

Cindy said...

What a great idea to have a video sharing workshop! I would like to know more. I can see so much learning potential for students and staff. Now if I could only get our system to stopping blocking YouTube and other video-sharing sites.

cindy

Ronda said...

Jean,

Congrats on successfully making a step forward in helping your students become more information literate through a critical analysis of videosharing. Many schools need to have the same openmindedness you and your staff displayed before banning a potentially useful resource.

Great examples!
Ronda

Linda Morgan said...

Good to know that once your students were educated about video sharing, they began to use it appropriately - there IS a god for teachers!