Visual Literacy

Do videos have their place in the classroom?

Of course they do.

Video usage is ubiquitous in our schools and they are used and abused in equal measure.

Many teachers use documentaries, TV clips, films and contemporary social media as ‘enrichment’ to promote critical thinking and to enhance their coverage of subject areas, particularly language arts, PSHE, history, science and geography.

Videos do have educational value and they are often the meat of a lesson but when used as ‘time-fillers’ then there are plenty who frown, tut and bark.

But even as ‘time-fillers’ they have tremendous value because this is not empty time – in the space of a 30 sec video clip there is always something to learn. It might just be ‘for fun’ or it might have a more heavyweight intention behind it but videos are a very useful and effective even if this is a ‘Get out jail free’ card.

You could use the following clip as something to test how observational students are. That’s a simple enough objective and it gets everyone thinking. Okay, it fills some time but it kick-starts conversations and thinking. It also makes students more aware of what they are looking at.

Tim van der Zee et al (2018) say that to increase the educational benefits of online videos, students could benefit from more actively interacting with the to-be-learned material. When videos are combined with speaking, listening and writing then they are far from passive but active events that have great potential. In their research they found, “Writing, as well as reading summaries of videos were positively related to quiz grades.”

Renee Hobbs (2006) suggested how we might use video in our classrooms by:

(1) incorporating pre-viewing discussion;

(2) using viewing and note-taking as part of an ‘active viewing’ strategy;

(3) discussing open-ended critical questions that involve students in analyzing the author’s purpose, point of view, issues of representation, and methods of developing ideas through language,
image, and sound;

(4) implementing simple media production activities that promote an appreciation for the constructedness of media messages

When using videos we have the power to press pause and interject by asking questions, provoke thinking and increase anticipation and engagement.

Here is another video. Pause the clip and ask what it is the woman writes on the man’s card. Ask students to discuss and write what she has written and what they would write themselves. Now watch the rest of the video and compare.

We are spoiled for choice when it comes to video but its worth considering a couple of favourites I go to.

The first is Literacy Shed which is “home to a wealth of short films and animations and related teaching ideas” and packed with inspiration. This is well worth a look if you haven’t see it.

Another is the the Jacob Burns Film Center (JBFC) which is “a nonprofit cultural arts center dedicated to teaching literacy for a visual culture; presenting the best of independent, documentary, and world cinema; and making film a vibrant part of the community” – take a look at their brilliant View Now, Do Now ideas.

And finally…..

Need a pep talk and inspiring for the new term ahead? Kid President is the one to watch – talk about the power of positivity!

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