My ImagineIt project is slowly starting to evolve. I am still trying to discover what the students can do with video. In the past few weeks I have introduced students to iPads and iMovie. I provided a very basic introduction to video recording and editing using iMovie. I gave the students a simple project to complete in the scope of an hour. I wasn't expecting much on the creative side, as my focus was to get students to work together within the a short time frame. I was glad to see that the students were able to accomplish the goal of creating videos by planning, creating, and collaborating together. With that said, the next stage is to get students to think more artistically about the presentation.
There are also challenges that I have to consider. First, the video that they caputure is on a shared iPad. I have to develop a plan on to save the work that the have done and make sure other groups are not compromising their classmates projects. I also need to start considering the topics for the videos. I might have students remake a commercial they like. I would also like to give students more choice as to the setting of their videos. As it stands, students have only had the ability to film within the range of my classroom.
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The goal of my ImagineIT project is to use video as a pedagogical tool. In short, my objective is to use video as a medium to improve communication skills, reinforce subject matter being taught, and to provide students an outlet for exploring artistic creativity. My first dilemma deals with curriculum and deciding on how much control I should have over the video projects they produce. My second dilemma revolves around assessment and how to critique the content presented, as well as, the way it is presented in a video.
The two colleagues that I solicited feedback from were Sandra Jackson and Preston Lewis, both participants in the MSUrbanSTEM program. After explaining my ImaginIT project and dilemmas, Sandra and Preston provide me with some great suggestions. Both Sandra and Preston thought that it was important to create a balance for both my dilemmas. My colleagues thought that I should require students to outline project goals before searching or creating media to use in the project. They also suggested that I require students to write a script and submit it before they start using the production tools. This would give students a focus which in turn would lead to less time wasted. Once an outline has been established and approved, I can then encourage them to use their creativity to interpret and demonstrate their understanding of the required content. Preston and Sandra offered some questions to consider when assessing students final products. For example, did students demonstrate what they said they would in their outlines and scripts? Did students demonstrate what you wanted them to demonstrate? Was the final product engaging? Did the audience (classmates) learn something from the final product? Lastly, I should not be the only one to assess the project. I should have audience evaluation sheets.
My focus group of students also provided me with some feedback on my dilemmas, yet the suggestions were not as useful as the feedback I received from Sandra and Preston. One interesting suggestion that was given was to have video project roles. Some of the suggested roles included director, producer, researcher, script writer, artist, set designer, camera operator, sound, and actors. Depending on the number of people involved with the video project, roles could be combined and assigned to one person, or could be assigned to two people to work as partners in the same role. Students also suggested that they assess each other's projects.
Considering the feedback I received from my colleagues and students, I came to the realization that the purpose of this project is to provide a structure through which students can demonstrate mastery of a subject by creating and presenting a video that is driven by their own interest in a topic and allows them to work within the same parameters as real researchers. While I can assess the students’ knowledge of content and the level of depth to which students have explored, it is important to allow students to think deeply and to question a topic which has meaning for them. So, a healthy balance between artistic freedom and a content focus will be essential.
Dilemma 1 - Curriculum
It seems like every teacher I work with is told what material to cover, when to cover it, and how to evaluate student’s performance. Enthusiasm for teaching can quickly evaporate in the face of being controlled while working in an urban setting. If learning is a matter of following orders, students simply will not take to it in the way they would if they had some say about what they were doing. I am in a position to really let my student run with my video project. So, my dilemma is how much control should I have, how much creative control should students have?
Dilemma 2 - Assessment
It seems that there are no longer any rules that govern good and bad production practices. Almost anything goes. How can I evaluate student videos in an era when it seems that anything goes? Today's nonconformist may end up being tomorrow's Youtube superstar. Video is very subjective and is a constantly changing art form. In any art form, and especially in film and television, there's constant disagreement over what is good and bad. So, how exactly should I evaluate my students? Do I assess on content? Do allow students to critique each other’s work? Video making can become personal and it can become difficult to detach oneself and become objective.
Students are no longer passive receivers of content, but active designers of their own learning. One way to accomplish this is through the opportunities for self-expression through visual communication. Camera and film speak a universal language that knows no barriers. The process of making a film enhances social skills through the physical interaction that occurs with peers and adults. Furthermore, the finished product serves as a permanent reminder of the content learned by each person which reinforces the student’s sense of worth. Students develop a heightened awareness of their surroundings when working with film production. Awareness of the environment encourages a willingness to accept the responsibility that comes with real-life roles. Consciousness is raised once students view themselves. A connection between the present and the future can occur which results in a greater sense of control over future events. Lastly, retention of basic skills is improved since video production is a multi-sensory experience. Students see, hear, and participate in the activity. positive feedback and repetition of learned material reinforce concepts related to video production. The balance between new skills and those already attained offers students more opportunities for success.