Why Students Need Video Literacy Skills

Why Students Need Video Literacy Skills

There is little doubt that we are part of a video-based generation now. Recent YouTube stats indicate that there are “2 billion views a day (on YouTube), 24 hours of video uploaded every minute, and the average person spends 15 minutes a day” watching videos. You will likely find videos are gaining popularity within online education settings. Instructors are discovering the benefit of using videos as part of their instructional strategy to enrich the process of learning. I believe it is time for students to do something more than watch videos – and other educators are also beginning to realize the benefit of allowing students to create videos. The online classroom could benefit the most from the interactive nature of videos when they are designed for and created by students. With the availability of free software and relative ease of making a video, it is time for a video literacy revolution among students.

Video Generation

The use of technology by students is making it easier for higher education institutions to incorporate technologically-related activities. Anu Vedantham and Marjorie Hassen of the University of Pennsylvania, and authors of New Media: Engaging and Educating the YouTube Generation, note that “of more than 36,900 undergraduates surveyed nationwide in 2010 by EDUCAUSE, 89% reported owning a laptop.” Why is laptop ownership an important factor? Because it means that students are familiar with the use of technology and in addition, “the capabilities of today’s laptops allow students to easily perform video- and audio-editing tasks that would have required rooms full of equipment just a few years ago.”

Videos in the Classroom

It seems that most discussions about videos often include a reference to YouTube. Why? The New York Times states that “nearly two-thirds of all video views in the United States occur on YouTube, according to the measurement firm Nielsen.” You’ll find YouTube videos embedded in websites and even within online classrooms. I’ve embedded videos into my online lectures as a means of creating an engaging presentation. YouTube has responded to the needs of students and educators with the creation of the YouTube EDU educational library. Schools (traditional and online) are provided with a feature that allows them to grant students with access to this channel while blocking out videos from the main website as a means of filtering out potentially inappropriate videos. As The New York Times stated, “that has enabled teachers to bring educational videos from YouTube into classrooms.”

Becoming Video Literate

It can be said with almost certainty that as a student you know how to access and watch videos. However, would it be of benefit for you to become a video creator instead of a video viewer? In other words, is it time for you to become video literate? Michael Rosenblum has been an advocate for video literacy for over 20 years. In his article Teaching Video Literacy for a Media Revolution he makes the following points:

“Now, as we move rapidly from a print-based culture to a video-based culture, it's equally important that we teach people how to communicate their ideas in video. Not so that they might one day earn a living as cameramen (though they might), but so that they might craft their ideas in the medium in which we are all increasingly communicating. We are, today, a society that is defined by video. Yet the vast majority of the population (on the order of 99.99%) is and remains largely video illiterate. That is, while they can watch video, they cannot create it.”

Dr. Michael Stephens, Assistant Professor of the School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University, notes in his article Professor Creates Engaging Online Learning Environment that he “was drawn to online instruction because of the potential for using interactive technologies and social tools to extend my ‘classroom’ beyond four walls and immerse my students in the environments they’ll encounter in future jobs.” He has made a connection between what is learned in the classroom with the skills students need in the real world after they graduate.

This is a very important consideration for online students who are often pursuing academic goals to address career development and other professional needs. Stephens further states that skills students “develop now – exploring a new tool, creating new knowledge, making connections with others – will serve them well in their careers.” While he does not indicate that students are allowed to create a video, he has recognized the need for students to develop technologically-based skill sets.

In Video Projects, Not Video Viewing, Dr. Joshua Kim, Director of Learning and Technology at Dartmouth College, states that “one goal I'd like to see us achieve would be the option of a media project in as many classes as possible. Some students may prefer to write a term paper. Some students may prefer to make a video mashup. Both learning styles should be accommodated.” Kim is also advocating video literacy and implementing it as a strategy to address students with different learning needs. This could be of benefit for online classes to further develop a sense of community and collaboration among students if they work together and/or share their videos with each other.

In the article How to Use Media to Enhance Teaching and Learning, instructors are encouraged to include video assignments and projects in their classes because “involving students in creating media encourages collaboration, accountability, creativity, and mastery of ideas and concepts.” The article also makes a point that “one does not need a large budget, fancy studio, or advanced degree to create original media that is informative, entertaining and educational.” Students can capture video through more than a camcorder – there are options available with digital cameras, some cell phones, and many smartphones, tablets, and iPhones. The process of creating and editing can now be accomplished through several free software options.

There are numerous resources available for students to create and edit their videos. Here are two popular options:
•    iMovie for Mac by Apple: “iMovie puts it all in one place and organizes it for you so your video is easy to browse and fun to watch. Just plug in your device, open iMovie, and start importing your video.”
•    Microsoft Windows Movie Maker: “Quickly add photos and footage from your PC or camera into Movie Maker. Then fine tune your movie just the way you want it.”

In the article Six Easy Ways for Students to Create Videos Online instructors are reminded that “creating video content is a great way to get students engaged in projects through which they can demonstrate their learning.” There are six free software resources provided in this article that you can choose from if your instructors provide this option and include: Masher, Animoto, Stupeflix, Photo Peach, Xtra Normal  and Memoov (soon to be available). Take a closer look at these websites to determine what would best suite your needs.

It seems that now is the time for a video literacy revolution, especially for online students. Participation in an online class requires the development of technological skills and most students either have the skills needed or develop them through time and practice. Students and educators also agree that creating videos can enhance learning because it provides an interactive experience. Adding videos as an assignment or project would be an easy option for instructors to incorporate because of the number of technological devices that can capture video and the availability of free software. If you don’t have that option for your class, talk to your instructor, especially if you would like a creative method to demonstrate what you have learned. Implementing videos as a learning activity holds a lot of future promise for online classes.

Would you be interested in creating a video for your class? Share your thoughts via Twitter @DrBruceJ.
Photo © G. Baden/Corbis

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