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Digital Video in the History classroom

Richard Jones-Nerzic

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Digital video in the history classroom: why, what and how?

As my subtitle suggests, I propose three sections to this seminar that broadly address three questions:

1. Why use digital video?

2. What can you do with digital video?

3. How do you do digital video?

The first section offers various justifications for using digital video in the history classroom. It attempts a justification beyond the undoubted motivational appeal of the medium, to something more essential to the teaching of history itself. The second section suggests some practical examples of the various ways digital video might be used in the history classroom. And in the final section I offer a five-minute crash course in how to edit digital video, open to anyone with post-98 Windows and a broadband Internet connection (or patience).

Part 1: Why use digital video in the history classroom?

Because you can and because you should.

Because you can.

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. (see Part Three of this seminar) 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.

Because you should

Now that it is possible to work with digital video in the history classroom, it is also important to realise that there are also lots of good reasons why you should. The most obvious is motivational; students (including boys) enjoy working with it. The medium is relevant and ‘real world’ for students and this is reflected in the time and effort they put into the work. (see BECTa research on this) Video projects also lend themselves naturally to meaningful group work assignments and genuine cross-curricular learning. Depending on the project you might need students to become directors, editors, artists, musicians, cameramen, researchers, scriptwriters, actors, etc. Digital video therefore opens up a whole range of new learning possibilities to suit a range of different learning styles. This was in fact the first significant revelation for me when I started using a digital video camera in lessons. Before it was possible for students to use the technology themselves, I was using the camera to enhance the possibilities for non-traditional learning styles. For example, I overcame my reluctance to use ephemeral, performance based role-plays in class, as soon as digital video allowed me to overcome the fact that role-play was ephemeral. Everyone prepares more seriously for a role-play if a permanent record is to be kept and ‘broadcast’ via our website to the rest of the world.

However, the most important reason why students should work with digital video is that by doing so they are learning to become critical users of the most influential medium in the world. As history teachers we like to justify our existence by claiming to provide our students with the tools to decode and debunk both the ‘source’ traces of the past and the interpretative knowledge claims of historians. But in general, school history, with its emphasis on imparting the (producer) skills of the professional historian, (why do we do this?) neglects to equip students with all the skills they require as consumers of history. I remember reading some serious educational research, which suggested that most people’s historical consciousness is generated by television and cinema and has little to do with the ‘taught’ history of the school curriculum. In brief, the ‘document’ work and close examination of the (dominantly) written sources which characterises history lessons throughout the world, does little to prepare students to be critical users of the medium that is most likely to shape their understanding of the past.

I have long been convinced of the need to spend time critically analysing film with history students as we would with any other types of sources. Film, documentary or otherwise, is too often treated uncritically, as a stimulus source of content knowledge; often to lighten the load before teachers return to serious ‘academic’ study. By far the best way to get students to engage critically with film is to first put them behind a camera and then in front of a screen of video editing software. As a consequence of making films, students become sensitised to the various techniques employed by the filmmaker: camera angle and distance, lighting, focus, music, narrative technique, editing etc. Consequently, they begin to understand how they are manipulated; they begin to see through the magic.

Let me give one example here to illustrate the point. How students treat a camera is symptomatic of their knowledge of filmmaking. To begin with the camera is treated as a passive receiver; set-up at distance to cover the ‘scene’, students spend their time working on the script, casting, learning lines, acting, the sets and props, i.e. what the students ‘know’ about film. But as soon as they begin to work with the film at the editing stage, they begin to realise how the camera can be used in different ways to create different effects and meaning. This is why their third or fourth film shoot is so different to their first. In the first shoot, the cameraman is away from the action out on his own, by the last he is crowded out as everyone competes to see what the camera sees. Show a group of students who have been through this filmmaking process the opening scenes of and they will explain to you why camera use is more important than special effects, in creating the empathetic sense of involvement that Spielberg so brilliantly achieves.

More later...

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Part 2: What can you do with digital video in the history classroom?

As with most ICT applications, there is nothing particularly innovative about the use of digital video in the history classroom, as long as the use of the technology remains the preserve of the teacher. That said, before coming on to look at student use, I think it is worth pointing out some of the ways that my use of digital video has enhanced the sort of teaching I already did.

Digital video: teacher

As I suggested in Part 1 of this seminar, digital video allows a teacher to record and celebrate evidence of learning that would otherwise exist only in the memory of the classroom participants. As I put it in my first seminar for the SchoolHistory forum, digital video allows the teacher to capture and the students to create multi-media ‘multiple-intelligence portfolios’:

'With a digital video camera everything changes. Not only is the evidence easy to record, more importantly, it is easy to copy and transfer. This transferability enables both the student and teacher to build up 'learning portfolios' which can be a much more authentic record of the 'multiple intelligences' of learning. Students who are good linguistic learners are not necessarily good performers in front of a live audience and vice versa. Traditional paper and pencil assessment cannot always accredit the student whose strengths are kinaesthetic or spatial. Multimedia learning portfolios can.' (Teaching History in a Laptop Classroom)

The following therefore are examples of how digital video has enhanced what I probably would have done anyway and to encourage the 'doubters to give it a try'.

Kinaesthetic learning


Two quick examples. In making a history board game, success is measured by how well it plays. This video and webpage capture a lesson of serious game ‘evaluation’ well underway.

In making a model medieval siege engine, success is measured by how far it fires!

In the one example, the winning board game is the student’s only ‘top of the class’ achievement last year and in the other example the student is an English (third language) learner in his first months in an Anglophone school.



I think teachers are often reluctant to invest time and nervous energy into role-play activity, because you have nothing tangible to hold on to (and hold up as evidence) at the end of the process. A comment of 'you had to be there' is a less convincing justification for the 'A' grade in the mark book, than the annotated photocopied essay, proudly displayed on your classroom wall and later filed away. But digital video can also be filed away. It can also be emailed or hosted on your website, so that anyone who knows the web address can watch it. Include that web address in the student's report and you open up your classroom to a wider learning community of what I called elsewhere

'significant others'. I had an email this week from a student's relative in Australia who thanked me for doing just that.

In addition, I was never quite sure if students would take role-play seriously. However, when they know they are going to be filmed and they know it'll be back to haunt them, they do. This example

from the first year of what became our annual re-enactment of the Treaty of Versailles is a wonderful illustration of how suits, ties and a camera can enable (stroppy) students to lose themselves in the empathy of the situation. Also, as in this case, good role-play can sometimes be helped if the teacher participates, but how can I assess the student, if I myself am involved? Film it and you can, over and over again.

Other examples:

Reichstag Fire Y10 (JDC's activity)


Shakespeare’s London Y8


Guy Fawkes on Trial Y8


Child Labour (John Simkin’s activity) Y9


Cabinet Crisis 1935 - Abyssinia Y11


Appeasement Y11


(It is worth pointing out, that most of the films in this list were made by the students in the class concerned).



On my PGCE course I remember Rob Phillips filming us students as we taught our first dry-run lessons and self-consciously squirming at the sight of myself on screen. But I learnt a lot from it. And so do students who have an opportunity to review their ‘performances’ over again. This first video of Year 8 PowerPoint presentations was made by one of the class members a week after the original lesson. I put the raw footage of all the presentations on the school server and each individual student edited out their own presentation. The class evaluated each other’s presentations and selected the best for inclusion in this set of highlights. As well as the video the PowerPoints are also available on the website here,

At IB level presentation skills actually count for the student’s final examination grade, so it is important that they get plenty of experience. Within the first three weeks of the course I expect every student to have made a presentation to camera. At this level, assessment is much more systematic, with students working through a detailed marksheet that also demands comments about how they look on screen: body language, pitch and tone of voice, eye contact, etc. This video from last September’s induction programme is designed to show next year’s students what to expect: what makes a successful presentation? and what is to be avoided? Again it was made by one of the students in the class and is designed to be viewed alongside the original student PowerPoints and websites




Was the Weimar Republic doomed from the start?


Who was to blame for the start of the Cold War?


With debates I tend to get each individual student to edit their own version of the original film. There are good reasons for this. If a student is participating, they are likely to miss a lot of what is said and tend to be necessarily concerned about how and what they are going to contribute. To edit a film, a student has to watch and listen to what was said by everyone, over and over again, until they almost know it by heart. This can be very useful exam preparation if, as in the two examples above, the debate topic is an expected essay question on the final examination paper.

Field Trips


Making a digital film of a history trip is an ideal means of preparing and later consolidating student learning of the visit. Having established regular field visits over the last few years, I have made a short film of each of the sites we visit. In this recent example of St Sernin Church in Toulouse,

my editing of the video, concentrates on those aspects of the visit that are the focus of our particular study of medieval pilgrimage. Students can view these films individually, (before and/or after the visit) considering a series of key questions, pausing the film at exact points as requested and reviewing as often as is necessary. The digital film can also constitute the raw material for films that the students produce for themselves, with their own edited soundtrack added later. In addition, I also try to make a video of the trip that is specific to the students taking part that year. This example from Albi last March is typical, in that all of the students in the class feature. My school has a very transient international student population, with these videos, leavers can take away with them a vivid record of their time in France. Such is the expectation that these films will be made every time that I am fortunate that willing students now make the films for me.

More about the student use of digital video later…

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Part 2: What can you do with digital video in the history classroom? (Continued)

Digital video: student

John Simkin

‘Although the viewer is aware of the role of the script in persuading people to think in certain ways (and therefore able to guard against it) they are far less able to cope with the way a director carefully arranges images in a film…’

John is certainly more of a film buff than I am and apart from an undergraduate fascination with the ‘Bad News’ work of the Glasgow Media Unit, I am not in any way trained to teach media studies. But what I have got now, is two or three year’s practical experience of making films, which has sensitised me to basic film making techniques. My teaching has always drawn on my personal experience as a learner and digital video is no exception. Because I can, I want to share that experience with my students because as I argued above, I fervently believe that visual media literacy is something they need.

Where to begin? : A quick ‘Iron Curtain’ example.

In Part Three of this seminar I will be showing you the basics of how to make digital video. In the first lesson with your students in an ICT lab, unless your ICT department (or another department?) have already covered the skills, this is where you will need to begin.

As a first activity, I recommend trying an interpretation activity that is relatively straightforward, something that, as Ben Walsh puts it: gets ‘the students to think through their storyboards and recognise how comparatively easy it is to create new and alternative versions of events.’

I would recommend downloading some archive video for the students to manipulate. Take Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech for example, and to go with it, get some still images and contemporary documents from the National Archive site.

Students will learn very quickly how to import and edit the files, so as to be able to select the files, cut and re-order the video. Perhaps divide your students into pairs or small groups and give them different tasks to complete a film based on exactly the same limited number of visual sources. Focussing on narrative to begin with, students can write and perform a voice-over that attacks or praises the speech, from a contemporary view or from hindsight, cinema newsreel style or historical documentary, etc. Restrict them to a one-minute film and they’ll have to edit the original archive video significantly and choose their words very carefully. Later, if you wish, they can add text and lastly appropriate music. The importance of music is sometimes difficult to illustrate, I have used the opening of this video of Goebbels of late to get the idea across.

The end of the project should involve some sort of viewing session. If you’re lucky enough to have a video projector and a sound system, this might be a whole class activity. If not, the individual video files can be shared through the network and viewed at the PCs. This sort of activity works particularly well with a peer evaluation and report back session. If you have the facility, perhaps the best of work could be hosted on the school website.

Film Making

‘Having shown them the tricks of the film-makers trade, to deny these pupils the opportunity to put their new found knowledge into action would have been much like showing a child a sweet shop and then closing the door.’
Dale Banham and Russell Hall, ‘Using film to explore historical interpretations’


The logical conclusion of the digital video process is to have the students shoot and edit films of their own. It is one thing to manipulate the meaning of someone else’s images but quite another thing altogether to control the raw material ‘reality’ of what and how things will be seen.

Nazi Propaganda Movies


'We are convinced that films constitute one of the most modern and scientific means of influencing the mass. Therefore a government must not neglect them’ Josef Goebbels

I have been doing a Nazi propaganda film activity in one shape or another for about 10 years. I was interested to read Ben Walsh's comment that students view ‘film with supporting website as an accurate historical record’, because this is exactly what I get my IGCSE students to create. The activity began in the early 90s as merely a storyboarding and synopsis writing activity, continued through the occasional camcorder film in the late 90s, to the current situation of sophisticated promotional websites and films created for a DVD viewing public.

The students are divided into groups of four or five, based on ability, interests and strengths. All groups will require good artists, actors, writers etc. so it is important that some thought goes into this. For example, this year some students wrote and performed their own musical score; therefore a familiarity with the music software Cuebase became useful.

The basic task is the same as it was 10 years ago, to design a Nazi propaganda film that Josef Goebbels will approve and finance. This year there are five stages to the process:

Step 1 - Group planning session. Brainstorm ideas for the synopsis and ideological purpose of the film. Allocation of areas of responsibility: director/editor, actors, screenwriters, artists, cameraman/photographer, music etc.

Step 2 - Individual assignments (posters, storyboard etc.) under the direction of film producer. Homework activity.

Step 3 - Film shoot in school (some lesson time available but cameras also available for booking break/lunchtime or after school). All props and costumes the responsibility of the production teams.

Step 4 - Digital video editing with voice-over and music if appropriate. Compression of video for web-streaming.

Step 5 - Final website design and placement on school server.

Both in this activity and the historical documentary activity below, I begin the process by a close examination of the genre concerned. For Nazi propaganda this means work on Leni Riefensthal and Hitlerjunger Quex. This is the most traditional and teacher-led part of the process. To help with this, I have created a webpage of various extracts from the films, documentaries and other useful resources. I also make extensive use of the filmeducation website especially on writing storyboard and screenplay Time management is critically important to the success of the project and Step 1 (Group Planning) needs to be watched closely. Until they start filming, students’ ideas tend to be vague or unrealistic, so once they have produced an approved synopsis, get them filming as quickly as possible. As I suggested earlier, how they shoot film will change after they begin to edit it. If possible therefore, try to arrange two separate lessons for shooting with a session in between for editing. How you film and where you film will depend upon school policies. If you have to film everything in the classroom this will restrict, but not prevent you making films. However, in dividing your groups up at the beginning, you may wish to consider ownership of/access to a video camera as an important factor. As I am writing this, I received an email from one of my groups saying that they are currently filming at one of the student’s houses. If this can be done, it helps.

The final work


Websites and video from 2002


Websites and video from 2003


Websites and video from 2004

Having looked at these for the first time in ages this evening, it is interesteing to note how much more technically sophisticated they have become. One of the best of this year's work (2005) is notable for the students having composed, performed and composed their own soundtrack.

Although the groups end up producing much more, they all have to produce two short films: one short scene, which is fully developed with script and storyboard and one ‘trailer’ summary of the film.

This is a (resized) extract from my favourite storyboard last year


(complete version)

And this is the completed video of storyboarded scene. (notice the importance of the music)

Another beautifully drawn storyboard for this video scene

John’s earlier point about cross-curricularity is interesting in this context. The students responsible for the storyboarding were able to enter the work as part of their IGCSE coursework. Similarly, some of the screenplays in the past have made it into their English portfolios. Ironically, none of this work was able to count towards their IGCSE history grade.

And finally two good examples of the trailers: example 1 and example 2

Trailers are a particularly useful video activity because of the intensity of the techniques used, given the brevity of the medium. As a consequence, the students are focussed on the pop-video, commercial advert approach, associated with media that sells. This is as close as I get to teaching media studies.

Oh and one extra final thing. Like everyone else, students make mistakes in front of camera. Expect plenty of films like this one made by their unsympathetic friends, (if nothing, else a good illustration of what MovieMaker can do). 'mess-ups'

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Historical Documentaries


In the last couple of years I have begun working making historical documentaries with students. I think the inspiration for this came from seeing a bad History Channel documentary on Lenin and the Russian Revolution a few years ago, which gave a particularly dismissive account of Lenin as a political theorist. What impressed me about the documentary technique was how the impression of balance and objectivity was achieved by careful editing of different historians saying similar things (in front of bookcases of course) in quick succession. Watching the documentary, I could think of a number of other historians who would disagree with the central thesis of the programme but they didn't appear. Documentary, like great narrative history, has to tell a story that is more or less a contrivance of the author/director. With the Schama's Citizens you know you are getting (only) one historian’s take on the French Revolution and as readers (often fellow historians) we have been trained to analyse the historical and literary techniques Schama employs and to expect that his (usually very highly qualified assertions) are scrupulously annotated. But with Schama's History of Britain, his purpose, our expectations and the documentary outcomes are very different. The audience of our expectations is no longer the producer audience of professional/amateur historians but the consumer audience of a public that expects to be entertained and that will change channels if they are not. Of course, this has significant implications for the content of the history presented and clearly, as in the case of the Lenin documentary, dissenting voices would only complicate and distract from the director’s narrative flow.

My first foray into documentary filmmaking with students was a special project on the Spanish Civil War with a small group of committed (volunteer) IB historians earlier this year. Project webpage Designed as a display for the school's International Culture Week (theme Spain) the documentary uses 68 carefully selected photos and short archive video clips, one image for each year since the war began in 1936. Displayed on four screens simultaneously, asynchronously and continuously, the six-minute film is a chronicle of the war that attempts to tell a human story without the limitation of words.


Spanish Civil War Documentary Video

For the students, the challenge was to research the archive image/video and then to assemble the images in such a way that a story could be told. Because the film was to be shown in a trilingual evening and whilst musical events and presentations were going on, we decided to leave sound and text out of it. Instead the students wrote a brief note in three languages to explain the project: The film opens with scenes of hope in Madrid's Puerta del Sol in 1936 and then progresses chronologically though to a conclusion of refugees fleeing across the French border. Along the way, major events (the battle for Madrid, the bombing of Guernica) are interlaced with scenes of everyday life that tell the social history of the war. In this story, the famous names (Orwell, Hemingway et al) are almost indistinguishable from the peasants and workers they fight alongside. Entitled 'War Without End', the film loops continually in recognition of the legacy of a war which in Toulouse, as much as anywhere, remains as important today as ever. The film's only colour image is a photograph taken in summer of 2003 at the cemetery and memorial to the International Brigaders who died at Le Vernet 'internment' camp, a short drive south from Toulouse. In class the next day, I interviewed the students about the experience:


Video interview

My current project in documentary filmmaking involves Year 9 and Y12 students in more ambitious activities. Year 9 have been making documentaries about the causes of the French Revolution and Year 12 have built on the Iron Curtain activity, by making films about the responsibility for the start of the Cold War. Both topics had already been covered in routine lessons. With both groups, I began by showing a careful selection of different documentaries, with the purpose of identifying different documentary techniques: voice-over, talking head, interview with historian (in front of bookcase), dramatic reconstruction, comedy, archive footage, animated graphics, music, etc. With Year 9, as it was an end of year activity, I pretty much let them get on with it. To be honest, I was amazed that each of the four class groups finished their films. Not only that, but students were staying in after school, everyday of the last week of term to make sure they were finished. The end results are a bit mixed (Y9 project documentary webpage) but importantly, I have learnt a lot about how to improve the process next year. This Y9 documentary video was probably the best of the films, and uses a range of techniques, including bilingual subtitles in French and English.

The Year 12 work on the Cold War is being completed as I write. They have been given very strict time limits and a requirement that archive video and contemporary documents be included. One group has a thesis that the USA was responsible for the start of the Cold War, the other group that the USSR is to be blamed. Importantly, unlike the Nazi propaganda work this class completed two years ago, this production must appear to be a serious documentary i.e. interesting, informative and accurate documentary but bad history.

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Part 3: How do you make films with digital video?

This is the last (planned) section of this seminar and hopefully, by far the shortest. 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 Curtainspeech.

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, 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.

And that's (about) it.

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  • 2 months later...

It seems that the growth in broadband has increased the number of people using the internet. My traffic (and revenues) has definitely dramatically increased over the last few months. The announcement today that the Carphone Warehouse would include broadband free with its Talk Talk landline service will also increase this trend. The package is expected to cost less than £25 a month, the price BT charges for line rental and unlimited calls to landlines without broadband.

Another recent report suggested that young people are now much more likely to get their news from the web than newspapers. They are also spending more time surfing the net than watching television.

It has been claimed that the big growth area is digital video. It seems that young people are very keen to upload their videos to the web. Apparently, the most popular website for uploading your videos is YouTube.


It claims that 30m user-created videos are viewed every day. I can understand the desire for people to make videos but I find it difficult to grasp who is watching this stuff. In fact, the browse section allows you to see how many views these videos are getting. In most cases they have no views at all. The only videos that are being viewed are those that feature young women. Sunrise Adams photo shoot has had 564 and a woman running down the street in hot pants has had 488 visitors.

Is this really a communication revolution? The point is that no one is really interested in watching your home movies unless they contain something that normally you would not be able to see. It is clear that people have a great desire to communicate. However, to communicate you need an audience. One of the important skills that teachers will need in the future will be those that enable students to produce videos that other people want to see.

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Is this really a communication revolution? The point is that no one is really interested in watching your home movies unless they contain something that normally you would not be able to see. It is clear that people have a great desire to communicate. However, to communicate you need an audience. One of the important skills that teachers will need in the future will be those that enable students to produce videos that other people want to see.

I agree that youtube.com seems a little superfluous at times, and it is true that the footage that generates the most interest is the clips that offer something new. I have talked to a few students who use it and they mostly look for live recordings and rare tracks by their favourite bands - 21st Century equivalent of the guy that used to sell bootleg cassettes on the edge of Camden Market!

Others add video clips for fun. As John points out, it does show that young people are willing to communicate. Despite this willingness to be on film, I have found that communication skills are something absent or under-developed with pupils arriving at secondary school and I have made it a focus of my work with Year 7 this for the past few months.

On arrival, they could structure written work perfectly well and understood about paragraphing and even signposting to some extent. What they lacked was the ability to adapt this for oral presentation work. We have spent a good few hours working with powerpoint, digital footage and even mobile phones to improve the experience for the audience. I doubt if many people outside our class would actually want to see our Black Death powerpoints or Becket Trial film, but looking at communication as a skill and working with pupils to improve their ability to communicate is valuable in itself.


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Much the same goes for team blogs. I have been wondering for some time why it is that the posts my students make on team blogs seem to be longer and deeper than posts they make on discussion fora. One explanation I heard was that they perhaps see the team blog as more 'their space' than the university's discussion forum.

It'll be interesting to see what happens. It may be that people cut their teeth on these public repositories of digital video films and then go on to develop their skills in the medium in other ways. I've heard an argument about why there are so many British computer game designers which says that it was the difficulty of programming the ZX Spectrum (to do computer games, anyway), which propelled British programmers into being especially creative in their solutions to programming problems. The results of sites like the one John mentions might be best judged by looking at their successors.

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