Student-produced videos

As part of the quest to find relevant resources for SciLinks topics, I’ve been poking around YouTube, TeacherTube, and other video sites. I’ve certainly seen the good (which are considered for a SciLinks review), the bad (poor design or lots of errors), the ugly (talking-head lectures)—and the inappropriate.

I really enjoy looking at the student-produced ones. I’m amazed by the creativity of our students and their ability to use the video technology. I suspect that many of them learned the skills on their own, but you can tell those that have had some teacher guidance, especially in the science content. Teachers often lament that students “don’t want to learn,” but seeing what some students can do with a challenging and relevant task makes me wonder about that.

Publishing student work online is a win-win situation. The “producer” learns and integrates content and media skills into a product that “consumers” (other students) can learn from. The teacher can work with the producer to make sure that the information is correct and that the product is appropriate for the intended audience. For example, I was recently made aware of an animated video created by a Florida high school student for a middle school audience: Prepare for the Science Fair by Kevin Temmer. This could be a light-hearted and  engaging introduction for younger students to what could be an imposing task. (You might have a teachable moment here to clarify the word “hypothesis.” The video uses the terms “educated guess” and “prediction” which may differ from your definition.)

Of course, it’s ironic that in many schools, video sites are blocked, as are blogs (including the NSTA ones), wikis, and social media sites. I know some teachers who created a Ning site to share resources and information related to a science professional development project, but they have to use it at home! I can understand that schools don’t want students accessing inappropriate material, why are teachers denied access to teaching tools and instructional resources that could enhance student learning? Hmm.

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  1. Posted January 6, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    They’re blocking our blogs? Now that’s disheartening.

  2. MaryB
    Posted January 8, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    One concern I do have about YouTube and other video sites is that students can access some inappropriate comments and links to other videos that are not relevant to the classroom. In yesterday’s “Free Technology for Teachers” blog, there was an entry on Snip-Snip, a free service that lets you clip segments from YouTube videos and then creates a URL that you can use to access your version. The advantages are that you can select the most appropriate parts and that the distractions and inappropriate links are not included. I know there are other work-arounds, but I tried this one and it works!

  3. Posted January 11, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your comments, especially about the benefits of student-created videos. I’ve tried to incorporate this into my own science and multimedia classes. My students and I have been visiting mining sites and chemical manufacturing plants in Utah to document the history and uses of the elements. We’ve been interviewing experts on video, and have gradually been editing all of this into finished videos for YouTube and our blog site ( Our main difficulty has been that it takes a great deal of time out of the chemistry curriculum to actually edit the videos, so we have a big backlog of projects to finish even though my multimedia students have been helping out. But since we are also taking still photos, I’ve tried to keep up on our interviews and visits through our blog site. My students are taking turns as guest hosts on the blog, writing on their own element research projects, and we’ve taken demonstrations to our elementary classes that we’ve photographed and written about. It’s had a great benefit for my students; it’s fun to see the depth of their knowledge and the level of motivation and creativity they show when they’re given a chance to share what they know. Looking at the stats for our blog, it also looks like we’ve had a positive impact on our audience.

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