Feb 072009

I don’t own a pocket video camera, relying instead on a combination of a very old digital compact camera, a web cam (which has now been stolen) and the built in iSight video on my Macbook to record classroom goings-on. I am totally sold on the idea of students making videos, indeed its an essential teaching strategy that can result in very deep learning indeed. Equally, using a conventional video camera with a tripod and fiddly controls, followed by hours of editing large files can be quite demotivating.

The advent of pocket video cameras such as the Flip means that video is a much more accessible teaching tool. The specifications of simple one button recording, direct usb connection and instant editing with onboard software all sound very appealing. My Head lent me her personal Flip this week giving me an opportunity to evaluate it’s usefulness and practicality..


The Flip

For the first test I gave the camera to a student, with instructions to film the important parts of the lesson. I chose an individual who usually finds learning quite frustrating. The experiment worked very well – the only instruction I gave was to “press the red button and point it at anyone who speaks”. I was very impressed with the results – the student made a brilliant job of recording the important detail, and even began adding a narration. In fact the footage will make a good teaching resource, and has provided me with some useful feedback on some of my more irritating classroom mannerisms!

Friday, being a snow day, was an opportunity to test the camera in a fieldtrip scenario. Heading into the Blackdown Hills for the morning, I made the following short film:

Snow Day from Noel Jenkins on Vimeo.

I think the resulting footage is quite acceptable for use in the classroom. The light was low, it was cold and snowy, but the camera performed very well. It was easy to carry in one hand while snowboarding. Although there are editing facilities in the Flip software, on this occasion I dropped the footage into iMovie for a quick edit.

I’m definitely hoping that eventually we can budget for a class set of Flips at school. I’d be tempted to get the HD version for my personal use, but the Mino version I used is perfect for students to create and edit their own films.

Here’s a related post on 60 second film-making

Finally, don’t forget the brilliant collaborative presentation on pocket video cameras in the classroom –  lot’s of inspiration and still growing.

Oct 012008

Here’s my entry for the One World Film competition organized by the ring leader of the particpatory geography movement in UK secondary schools Dan Raven-Ellison. Not a great production by any means, but I loved the concept of 60 second films to explain a point, and would really like to to get more of my students making short films for their own (and the wider community’s) benefit. Although I made the film several months ago, I can finally show it in a lesson since Year 11 are about to embark on a coasts topic.

Extreme Geography: Perfect waves from Noel Jenkins on Vimeo.

Some Year 10 students showed some short films they’d made about Dubai today. I was really pleased to see how far their editing skills have progressed since Year 9. I noticed that some of the students had discovered BBC Motion Gallery independently, though no-one had actually done any original filming. How I would love a few Flip DV cameras for my classroom!

Flip web site

David Rayner has recently explained on the SLN site that the BBC News School Report represents a great opportunity for KS3 Geography students to develop their investigative and reporting skills. What better motivation to get students into short film making?