Effective Instructional Video

Video has captured the imagination of many teachers at school this year. Using videos in class or homework caters to students who better comprehend video content than text. It often introduces content that is more current than your average text. Teachers may encourage students to exercise their media literacy skills. Last year, we had some success with YouTube. This year, we installed ceiling-mounted data projectors in twelve more classrooms and rolled out two new video services: TiVo and United Streaming. Both are currently in pilot phase — running but not widely rolled out.

The amount of enthusiasm present during the pilot phase may provide an early indication of the ultimate schoolwide success of a new service. The early returns are very encouraging. A handful of teachers have excitedly requested TiVo recordings, and another handful have explored United Streaming on their own. Teachers have used the systems to present documentary programs on heredity and environmental degradation, Spanish-language content, and even the Latin Grammy awards.

Setting up the services has been easy so far. For TiVo, I found a secure location where cable, network, and power were present and connected a tiny TV monitor and DVD recorder. For United Streaming, I purchased the license and publicized the URL and school code. So far, I have provided no training, and support has been minimal. Ultimately, I will move the TiVo to a classroom location that teachers may access and write up some documentation. I will offer a couple of training sessions that cover all three video services that teachers may find useful in their classes.

Installing as many ceiling-mounted data projectors as we can helps contribute to the success of these services. Dedicated projection facilities make for higher-quality presentation, easiest setup, and fewer connections that can go wrong.

We also plan to use video to support our training efforts. Sites such as Atomic Learning, Lynda.com, and VTC.com provide application support to users through video. We hope to sign a contract and roll these out soon.

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