The Big Picture


cc licensed flickr photo shared by the1secondfilm

I recently approached the administration in my school district about creating a YouTube channel for my media and film production high school students. The purpose of the channel would be twofold – firstly, to showcase student work, and secondly (and more importantly), to allow my students to learn from each other. I’ve always had class sharing of all media or film projects, but they tended to be a “too short class viewing” followed by a quick critical discussion of the work (all within a 70 minute block). While this has worked, it didn’t allow for (easy) repeat viewings that are needed when checking out certain techniques or searching for deeper meaning. Students would now have both the opportunity and the time to see each others films and think about them beyond the walls of the classroom and the minutes of the typical school day.

The idea of a YouTube channel emerged because my students had been requesting it and it was clear to me their voices needed to be heard. It is something that has relevance to their world, but extends to an educational application. Some students even suggested they would be able to link their work to their resumes or post-secondary applications, while others wanted to be able to show their parents our work. Clearly we were heading in the right direction. The good news is the school district has supported this initiative.

When I approached the school district I provided some clear parameters for how we would use this high school channel. I would be in charge of uploading so care would be taken regarding security and privacy issues, and there would be clear quality control – it isn’t simply a matter of every project being posted. Students must use copyright free, or cleared material only (I’ll cross the mash-up and re-mix bridge when I get to it!). Students who appear on camera must have their parents sign a letter giving permission for this. We are still sorting out what to do with the credits, but we’ll start by only including students’ first names and last initials. I am hopeful this can be expanded to full names as we get a better sense of the cyber implications. If other issues arise we’ll keep all stakeholders informed and make decisions accordingly. It has been my experience when embracing new technologies that it works well to start slowly and then expand boundaries as understanding grows and the needs change.

One of the first projects we’re going to try on the channel is to experiment with one story told using a variety of web tools. This idea originates with Alan Levine (aka “cogdog”) who explored over 50 web tools to tell the story of his dog Dominoe. Not only will students learn the tools, but they will also figure out which ones worked better than others and why. The students have agreed on the fable “The Tortoise and the Hare” because the story has a universal theme and can be interpreted in a multitude of ways. We are just getting underway on this project so stay tuned for updates.

And now for the big picture!

I have discovered by using social media and web tools myself, that, in turn, my students share their similar interests. Out of this emerges a valuable dialogue that centres on creating a digital identity. Most of my students had never really given much thought to their digital footprint before (other than avoiding posting inappropriate photos on Facebook or elsewhere), and have welcomed the chance to talk about it. This discussion has led them to realize that creating their digital identity and managing their reputation is something they have a lot of control over, and it is both valuable and increasingly necessary in the world. Indeed, they begin to see both the forest and the trees.


cc licensed flickr photo shared by Timo Kirkkala

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9 responses to “The Big Picture

  1. Michelle Clarke

    That is so fabulous Anne-Marie, that your school division is supporting your initiative for a high school channel on YouTube! I’ve always thought that banning YouTube from classrooms was a HUGE step backward, though I do understand and appreciate the arguments against allowing students open access to the site. There is a lot of potential for abuse, not only for the learners from the general public, if students don’t manage their digital profile appropriately, but also for time management/staying focussed on-topic sorts of purposes as well. I’m finding it difficult myself in trying to cope with school divisions who have these bans in place. I have a pod of students taking Psychology online with me and they are not allowed to view the video links I’ve included in the course unless they are at home. It’s been an issue, to say the least. So it is doubly exciting for me to see that there are some school divisions out there who are recognizing that there ARE valid and valuable educational applications of this medium.

    I also think you are to be applauded for initiating the conversation about digital identity management. It is a very important topic to discuss with your learners, especially young learners who do not realize the lasting impacts that the choices they make today could have on their future lives. The students in your classes are fortunate indeed to have you instructing them!

  2. Michelle,
    Thanks for your supportive comments. One thing that came as a pleasant surprise with all of this is that my students are actually becoming more aware of quality on the web. They know that it’s likely (with their permission) I’ll proudly share their work with my social media connections, and they are quite excited about this possibility.

  3. Anne- Marie-
    Great project!! It is great that your school board is with you on this! That is a difficulty that so many schools face – the boards do not see the bigger picture of youtube! I lookf forward to hearing and seeing how this goes!
    Good Luck!

  4. Anne-Marie, I think this is a great way to utilize YouTube for teaching and instruction – and with that comes more discussion about the industry and the fact that in order to be “recognized” by those in the business, it does have some rules, guidelines, editing protocols, etc in order to be taken seriously and to be seen and recognized by those that have some legitimate credientials.

    I also must say I really enjoy your posts and how you have found your own way to personalize them with supporting images, links to sites that are related, etc. You seem to have found your own flair and way with what was a new mode for you a very short time ago!

    • Delise,
      I appreciate your comments very much. Anytime I can have a dialogue with my students about issues relating to digital identity or social media I am happy – and I always learn much from them.
      Regarding my posts – many thanks – I’ve tried hard to have my blog be cohesive and representative of how I think and teach.

  5. Super! Sounds like you are an excellent planner, politician and teacher. All combined. Be sure to let me (and others) know of videos done by your kids so they can have an external audience. I believe this is very important. #comments4kids on Twitter is my recommendation for getting the word out.

    Keep up the great work!

    • John,
      I love the hashtag #comments4kids. I was totally unaware of it until you pointed it out – thanks so much! Also, thanks for the supportive comments.

  6. Sounds awesome! That’s great that the people working with you on this at the administrative level are pushing through the obstacles rather than getting bogged down and writing it off. Keep it up!

  7. Pingback: CinemaOwls take flight! « Meaning of Life or 42

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