A while back, I taught a high school broadcast journalism class. It was a lot of fun and we did some amazing things with technology, video, and journalism.
At the same time, I taught a sophomore language arts class. Since I was teaching the video recording skills anyway, I decided to do a video project with my language arts students. The results opened my eyes—I realized that for most kids, adding a camera to a project brought instant engagement. They were planning, creating, revising, and researching for ways to do it better, and their creations were pretty funny. The same project I had completed for many years became something fresh and new just by adding in the video component.
This was ten years ago, but I feel the same idea still rings true today. At the time, digital video was just taking off and there was a high degree of novelty to the projects. Today, students make videos all the time on their phone or tablet. This decreases the novelty component, since students already possess most of the background knowledge of how to operate a camera, but increases the teaching component.
Ready to Get Recording?
If you are a teacher considering an upcoming project and want to try to increase engagement, I would recommend giving students an option to record themselves and make a video. Here are some applications that could help get you started:
- TouchCast: This free app is pretty easy for students to use to make professional-looking videos. It has built-in green screen capability, so with the purchase of some green screen fabric, students can really become creative with backgrounds and backdrops. There are numerous preset backdrops that students can use as well as a teleprompter option, so while recording, students can be looking at the camera on the tablet device. Even better, it works with both Apple and Andriod devices. We have used it for years in our school and love it.
- Magisto: This video mashup app has both free and paid versions. The user can upload a few different videos and the system creates a video that can have music and transitions added. It is easy to use, but limited with the free account. Most students would like this app because it's simple and the end products look appealing. It is available in iTunes and in the Google Play Store.
- Mimio Recording: Within the MimioStudio™ suite of classroom software, you can find a recording app. Teachers can use it in a similar format to the other applications—it allows students to record video on their screen and narrate while recording. One engaging way to use this is to have students create a picture slideshow with narration laid over it. Consider a project where students find outdoor examples for a life science class. Students can take still photos of the pictures they have, and then narrate over the photos before sharing with other students. This is an engaging way to share lots of content knowledge in an efficient manner.
- iMovie/Movie Maker: Both of these movie editing apps from the two big software companies are worth considering, too. iMovie usually needs to be purchased, but Windows Movie Maker comes loaded on most Microsoft devices that have the MS Office Suite. I have found both of these to be useful, and students are able to learn them pretty quickly.
It is true in all of these instances that the device matters. We found that we lost some of the flexibility we had while recording video after a school-wide change from tablet devices to laptop devices. Some of these apps listed above are better for tablets than for laptops or Chromebooks. Even with that said, it is a learning moment in and of itself for students to navigate getting the video recorded and then transferring it to the device they are using to edit, save, or produce it. If we really want students to be lifelong learners and critical thinkers, we should support them through this kind of struggle and not just solve it for them.
I would encourage all teachers to consider the engagement possibilities with adding video, and while doing so, explore these apps to help students record and produce great projects.
Do you have any other program or app recommendations for classroom recording projects? Let us know in the comments below! And to stay up to date with the latest information about educaton and education technology, be sure to subscribe to our Educator blog.