A few Tips & Tricks for Student filming in the Classroom

With the wonderful small, but high quality, Flip Video cameras (and similar brands), it has become affordable (around US$ 150) to bring video production into the classroom.

"Flip it" Open and plug into USB Port

The camera is light, handy AND sturdy that even a Kindergartener can use it to show the world their perspective.

Skype Jobs

Videographer Job

A great way of making students part of a learning community, giving them ownership, creating and providing digital output to share “the inside of the classroom” with the world is by giving kids regular jobs, such as being the “official” videographer.

Videographer in the classroom

Documenting Classroom Learning

We have started handing the Flip camera increasingly over to the students, making it a specific classroom job to record Skype calls, record content tutorials or film a skit, presentation or story. After the footage was recorded, I usually took the raw material and started to edit, upload and share a final movie. Although I enjoy editing and creating these final movies, it takes a LOOOOOONG time.

Alan November’s question “Do you want your students to work more than you do?” rings in my ear. We need to start handing over the film editing job to our students.

Not only do we want them taking more ownership and learning the tech skills of editing, in addition to summarizing and reviewing content.

I recently edited an hour Skype recording between our faculty and Heidi Hayes Jacobs down to under 20 minutes. The experience, although it took me many hours to complete, contributed in many ways to a deeper learning than simply having “attended” and participated in the live conference call. I reviewed, summarized, decided which parts to cut, and which parts would be included in the final clip. Why not give students the same opportunity of creating learning?

Mathew Needleman, in the  a K12 Online 2008 Presentation Film School for Video Podcasters, also points out other benefits of involving students in movie production

  • including decision making skills about shots and composition
  • making our students aware how others are using them to make a point.

He talks about kids having to learn to understand the media messages that are being thrown at them.  Critical thinking evolves out of figuring out why other have chosen to use certain shots and compositions to make their point and why.

Here are a few tips & tricks for your students as they take over being the film directors in your classroom:

  1. Hold the camera with two hands to keep it steady
    1. You might want to lean against a wall, desk or chair
    2. Slow paning (movement or rotation of the camera)
  2. Wait a few seconds after pressing the “record” button to start speaking.
  3. The microphone is on the camera.
    1. Stay close to the source of the sound.
    2. Be conscious of the noise going on in the background.
  4. Take short clips
    1. Avoid running the camera for several minutes at a time.
    2. Try to have “logical” breaks between clips: a new question, new topic
  5. Take both close ups as well as “panorama” shots.
    1. Move in and out to achieve close ups and far away shots.
    2. Try not to use the zoom, it makes the footage look fuzzy.
  6. Don’t film against a sunny window
  7. Know what is in your background
    1. Make sure there are no other groups of students shooting in your background
    2. Don’t film a distracting background
  8. Don’t include students who do not have media release permission.
  9. Don’t identify students by filming something with their first and last name on it.