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Using Digital Video (media) to improve learning an

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The use of digital video as both a teaching tool and learning resource is becoming ever more common in the UK and worldwide. This workshop will enable participants to gain a clearer understanding of how history teachers are using digital video in their teaching to develop historical skills, ideas and concepts. It will share the latest research findings relating to the impact of digital video on learners produced on behalf of Becta by the co-ordinator of this workshop(Becta Digital Assets project 2003-2004). This will be a practical workshop which will introduce participants to the basic skills and principles of editing digital video for use as a learning and/or teaching resource. Groups of participants (2/3) will work collaboratively to develop the skills associated with digital video editing and to understand some of the possibilities for using this medium as a tool to encourage higher level order thinking and the construction of knowledge by pupils. Participants will need no prior knowledge of digital video although basic IT skills (e.g. mouse control/file management, etc) would be useful.

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  • 2 months later...

Just to say that one of my science colleagues attended a workshop which you gave on the use of digital video (not at SHP) and he said it was exceptionally good and interesting. One of my questions is about how complex/time consuming it is to get going on digital video. My experience is that if it is quite convoluted and technically difficult, it puts a lot of history teachers (including me) off, or they just don't quite get round to doing it in spite of good intentions. About how long would it take for an 'avarage' history teacher to master the rudiments of digital video editing and what is the best way of gaining induction to digital video?

Best wishes,

Terry Haydn

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One of my questions is about how complex/time consuming it is to get going on digital video.  My experience is that if it is quite convoluted and technically difficult, it puts a lot of history teachers (including me) off,  or they just don't quite get round to doing it in spite of good intentions.  About how long would it take for an 'avarage' history teacher to master the rudiments of digital video editing and what is the best way of gaining induction to digital video?

The short answer is that it takes considerably less time to master the basics of DV editing than any other programme I have ever used. And even more importantly, it takes considerably less time to teach it. The software is very intuitive and everything is done with a click and drag of a mouse. I recently did a seminar on this subject on the school history forum. http://www.schoolhistory.co.uk/forum/index...?showtopic=3704 I think some of what I said there is appropriate.

Until a few years ago, unless you had a dedicated multi-thousand pound media studies lab, film making with students was pretty much impossible. Even then teachers were restricted to working with small groups of (generally) older students and the level of expertise required meant that those involved tended to be media studies specialists. Now as a result of a number of technical developments, any teacher of any subject can take their class of 30 students of any age, into a computer lab and make movies.

The four technical developments are worth highlighting because when put together, you can begin to realise how very recent the possibilities associated with digital video actually are.

Firstly, all Windows PCs since Me have had video editing software included as part of the software package. Before this you either had to have a suite of iMacs or an expensive site license for a specialist digital video-editing package. Since last year Microsoft have improved their software beyond recognition, so that with MovieMaker 2 you can do pretty much all that commercial DV software like Pinnacle can do. Even more importantly, the software is very easy to use. I use it with all my students (11-18 years old) and we also use it with much younger children in our Primary section. After a five-minute introduction to the basics, students can be left to work the rest out for themselves. Of all the software I have used with students over the last five years, MovieMaker is not only the easiest to get to grips with, but it is also the one I have learnt about most from the students themselves.

Secondly, digital video has become widely available and easy to make. A quick search on the internet for .mpeg or .ram files exactly how available they are. But more importantly, the cost of digital cameras that also shoot video has come down significantly in the last two years. Five years ago I was fortunate enough to be able to work in class with a handful of Sony Mavicas, each retailing at about £700-800.


We considered this so novel at the time, we even made a film about it. (worth viewing if you've ever wondered what a laptop classroom looks like)


Now those same cameras are about a quarter of the price and there are much cheaper ones that can do the job just as well. You might be surprised at how many of your students own a digital (video) camera or have webcam or mobile phone that also does digital video. Even if you have an old analogue camcorder, £50 worth of video capture card can turn it all digital.

Thirdly, although digital video files are very big, the average PC now has the hard drive and processor necessary to cope with them. In addition portable storage devices (USB memory sticks etc.) now allow us to move big files between computers very easily. Moving DV files between students in lessons or between class and home would otherwise be very difficult.

Finally, broadband Internet connection not only allows us to download DV files with relative ease, it also allows us through our websites to share our student’s films with the wider Internet community. If you do make films with students, it helps motivate if they know that their work will be viewed beyond the classroom.

From my experience, most people don't know they have digital video editing software. For some reason, Microsoft decided to hide Moviemaker in the ‘Accessories’ folder of the Windows startup: Start > Programs > Accessories > Moviemaker. If you have a recent version of XP, you may find it in the more obvious location of ‘Programs’.

Once you’ve opened MovieMaker, you immediately see why it is such an easy programme to use. Everything is controlled through one logically divided screen.


On the left of the screen under the title ‘Movie Tasks’ (the Task Pane) are what I have called the three stages of film creation:

1. Capturing (getting your video, images and sound into the MovieMaker programme)

2. Editing (cutting, trimming, adding effects, transitions and text)

3. Making (choosing how you want the video to play back e.g. on a CDRom or streamed on the web)


Let’s assume you’ve got your raw video somewhere on your computer like the video of Churchill’s ‘Iron Curtain’ speech.

Click on ‘import video’ and choose the location where your video is saved. MovieMaker will give you the option of dividing the original video up into ‘clips’ based on where the computer identifies breaks in the original film (e.g. where different cameras were used). MovieMaker will then import the video clip(s) and put thumbnails of the video(s) in centre pane of your screen (e.g. Farm 057 in the example above).

MovieMaker tells you what to do next at the bottom of your screen: ‘Drag media to the storyboard to begin making a movie’. Select and drag your film clips into the timeline or storyboard (two ways of viewing the same thing) in the order you wish them to play. In my example above, I have chosen to show the timeline view. Once your clips have been dropped onto the timeline/storyboard you can play your clips through the preview screen. This is controlled through the DVD type icons below it.


My example screen above highlights the five layers of film editing. A video that has been dropped onto the timeline is automatically split between two layers: the video images on Level 1 (Video) and the accompanying audio in Level 3 (Audio). If you wished to ‘mute’ the original video soundtrack (as in Dan’s question), right click on the relevant audio section and select ‘mute’ from the menu. At this point it is worth experimenting with the ‘trimming’ function to shorten your imported clips. Move your cursor to the end or beginning of a clip and red arrows appear; MovieMaker will tell you to ‘click and drag to trim the clip’.

After making any changes, save your work. You have not made a movie yet, only a ‘Windows MovieMaker Project’ (.MSWMM file), the work in progress. The most common error made by students is when saving at this point, they think have made their movie. At the beginning of the lesson emphasise that there are three stages to making a movie; write the details of the stages on the board and keep referring to them during the lesson.

Next it is worth experimenting with effects. These can be found by clicking on ‘video effects’ on the task pane. Here you can lighten or darken your video, speed it up, slow it down, perhaps 'age' it by adding sepia tones or 1930s newsreel effects etc. The next task option is ‘video transitions’. This allows you to control how one clip will ‘cut’ into the next (fade, dissolve, roll etc.). If you add a transition, it will appear on Level 2 (Transition) of the timeline view and from there it can be lengthened or shortened. If you decide to import any music, this will appear on Level 4 (Audio/Music) of the timeline, as will narration, which can be added by clicking on the microphone icon (or Tools > Narrate Timeline). Level 5 (Title Overlay) is the last editing layer and will show any text that has been added to the movie. In my example above, I have added the words ‘Un oeuf’ for the exciting moment in my Primary school trip farm movie where a hen delivered on cue for the camera. To add text, (titles, subtitles, credits, translations etc) click on ‘make titles and credits’ in the task pane and follow the instructions on screen.


This is the third stage that many students forget about. Once you are happy with the editing, it is time to make the movie. On the Task Pane under ‘Finish Movie’, click ‘save to my computer’ and as well as choice of location of where to save your movie, MovieMaker will also give you a choice of quality for the finished film. Select ‘other settings’ and choose a size that suits your purpose. At the IST, we use 340kbs because our videos are intended for an Internet audience, but it is also worth saving a higher quality file for playing on your own computer.

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  • 5 months later...

Using DV is especially useful when you have pupils for whom written assessment is a struggle. Quickly video- or audio-recording what they have to say is extremely effective. Remember that just because you've got a Digital Video camera doesn't mean you always have to emulate Hollywood! :rolleyes:

:D Doug

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