Episode 7: Managing digital video projects

I've experimented in my classroom with digital video since my rookie year as a teacher. In fact, it was a first year video project that began to turn me on to the field of educational technology. For me, digital video is a transformational technology that educators can employ to explore new learning outcomes that were not even possible before video and home video editing was so readily available to consumers/educators.

However, it is clear that many educators do not feel comfortable with the concept of digital video shooting and editing, and it is understandable to hear educators admit they are intimidated by the technology and by the process. Today's show isn't going to work miracles for anyone in the audience. The first step to bringing digital video projects into your classroom is accepting the challenge to try something new, knowing that the process to becoming proficient in this skill area is a bumpy one with pitfalls along the way. If that doesn't sound too much like a pep talk, that's because it isn't. The ability to shoot video and create video projects isn't an unattainable skill. It just requires that teachers accept the reality that they may not know everything right away, and that they may have to rely on people and communities surrounding them to help them out (including students, who can, at times, be the greatest resource of all).

So, today's show is for those teachers who are willing to accept the challenge to accept digital video into your classroom and who are ready to jump head first into the deep end of the pool (I promise you, once you start, you will realize it isn't nearly as scary as you thought). It is also for those who are tinkering or who have worked with digital video for a while, yet are looking for some new tips to try out to make digital video projects even more successful in your classroom.

By listening to the show, you will get a brief mention on a series of tips that I've come up with to make digital video projects smoother and more efficient in their use of class time. The links from the show below will provide a brief synopsis of those tips.

Links from the Show


  • Do an inventory on what equipment you have available to you

    • If you do not have digital video cameras, digital cameras with video can work well.

  • Find out what video editing program is available on the computer already

    • Two common programs: Windows Movie Maker (pc) or IMovie (Mac)

  • Based on your personal skill level, locate online tutorials matched to your ability level

  • Examine your curriculum and determine what learning objectives MUST be demonstrated

    • If you don't know what they are supposed to show you, how will they know?

  • Engage your tech support network at this point and allow them to provide support to you

Before the shooting/editing begins:

  • Clearly communicate your learning objectives immediately, in writing and verbally

  • Provide a grading rubric before any planning begins

  • Force students to actively engage in a rigorous pre-planning/storyboarding process

    • This will allow you to avoid major errors before the hard/tedious work begins.

  • If you are doing group work, take an ability/skills inventory of your students

    • Create groups based on varied abilities and skills that will be needed

    • Make sure you've got a "tech" or "video" person, a write, and actors in each group

  • Provide just enough camera and software training without going into overkill mode

    • Students are more capable with cameras than most adults...they use them daily

    • Students will need an introduction into the layout of the video editing software

  • Keep your expectations and the students ideas in the realm of realistic

    • Feature films take thousands of man hours and lots of expensive equipment to create

    • Setting realistic goals will make the end product more fulfilling and less intimidating

  • Spend time teaching or showing kids various types of shots that can be done on cameras

    • Interesting videos can be created by creatively thinking about the shots included

    • Spend more time on this than on camera basics or software tutorials

  • Give yourself more time than you think you need. I always overshoot by one week

Lights, Camera, Action: During shooting and editing

  • While shooting in class may be fun, encourage students to do acting/shooting at home

    • Acting/shooting can take a lot of valuable class time...keep that for the editing needs

  • Save, save, save...and remind your students to do so as well

    • Editing can use lots of computer resources that cause computers to crash

    • Regular saving can help students to avoid "losing it all"

  • Encourage students to keep files organized and in one common place

    • If in groups, make sure all group members know how to access those files

  • Constantly reiterate the learning objectives for the project

  • Have "background" work that can be done at the same time as video editing

    • While these are labor intensive projects, you will have completion at different times

    • This will also help to keep kids on task and working toward finishing their project

  • Maintain open communication between group members

    • Dominant group members can kill the collaborative spirit...keep them at bay

    • Encourage all students to utilize their skill set (they've identified) to contribute

Finishing the project and screening it

  • Each video program has a procedure for "finishing" the movie (combining files into one file)

    • Review that process with your students regularly

  • Before the movie is finished and burned to CD/DVD, have the group review the movie

    • Give them a copy of the rubric and have them score their project

    • This will encourage them to make changes instead of saying, "Good enough!"

  • Announce a screening day that will allow the whole class to view the projects

    • Set a date for a pre-screening day "run through"

    • This is where you check to make sure the files/cds/dvds all work on your computer

    • This encourages students to finish on time and makes screening day flow better

  • Stick to the standards set forth in your rubric -- beautiful movies that do not demonstrate learning should not be given a pass because they look nice

Final Tips

  • Keep students focused and remind them they are not Hollywood producers

    • Students tend to focus on details that do not impact the big picture of the movie

    • Guide them through this by encouraging them to come back to it at the end

  • Encourage students to do the editing at school

    • While sometimes unavoidable, if the editing is done at one person's home, then they will be doing most of the work

    • Digital video projects are powerful when the group is involved

  • Be understanding...accidents happen and issues come up. Be flexible when you can.

  • Start small -- big projects take lots of resources and lots of time

    • For the beginner to succeed, starting small is an absolute ke

Tech Trial - Storyboard Pro:

This digital/electronic storyboarding software is a free program that allows students to do their storyboarding work on the computer. It provides the flexibility to move shots and scenes around, but it also encourages the directors to be incredibly detailed before they begin shooting. A sharp little program

Tech Trial - Teach with Video:

Steven Katz has put together a nice resource for teachers to come to for resources and ideas to improve their digital video projects. Steven has an impressive podcast, great ideas, and some useful resources on the website. This isn't geared to solely beginners or to experienced movie editors. There are a wide range of ideas and resources that visitors can utilize. Check it out, and make sure you check out his podcast.

If you've got questions, comments, ideas, suggestions, or want to share your use of non-linear PowerPoints with me, send it to: gettingtechintoed@gmail.com

Thanks for listening.
Brian Yearling

Host and Instructional Technology Enthusiast