Monday, June 16, 2008

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery….

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery….
Another Tech tangent……
As I listened to Ms. Garfinkel’s presentation of her school’s Tiyul Video Blog at the conference I realized that one week later I would be in Washington DC with our 8th graders and that I would like to create a similar venue for our students to communicate with their parents and the larger school body about what they were experiencing on their 8th grade trip to Washington DC. I spoke briefly to Ms. Garfinkel about how the files were stored and accessed. She they had them set up on her school’s server. We did not have the bandwidth or the capability to set up streaming video on such sort notice so I explored several other options.
The criteria I used were as follows.
We did not have a budget to purchase any hardware for this experiment (so it had to be really cheap … or free)
For safety reasons, the video should not be available to the general public It should be accessible only through a shared password. (this ruled out a public youtube offering)
For safety reasons we did not want our student’s last names mentioned on the video.
I wanted the videos to be viewable while we were in DC to communicate both the events and the excitement while we were there.
We wanted all students to participate.

Although there were a variety of available options, this is what we ended up doing.
1. I brought my Canon Powershot digital camera which takes decent quality video w/ sound.
2. I brought a laptop to connect to the hotel’s (painfully slow) public wireless
3. I created a youtube account for myself to upload the videos
4. I created a second youtube account on behalf of the school/parents to access the videos (actually it was one account made on behalf of one of the teachers but the user name and password were shared with the 8th grade parents and faculty)
5. We designated 5-6 students per day (for the 5 days of the trip) to be that day’s bloggers, they would be extra mindful of the day’s events and be prepared speak on camera.
6. Each day after Maariv, the bloggers would sit at a table and report on the days happenings. They were instructed not to use any last names on camera. The total daily blog time was not to exceed four minutes.
7. I then downloaded the video files onto the laptop,
8. Using Windows movie maker, I converted the video files into a file format compatible with youtube, added some rudimentary titles, and uploaded them to youtube
9. Before uploading any video files for the first time I had to create a friends and family list (consisting of the school/parent account)
10. When uploading to youtube it was essential to check that this was a private file and would only be accessible by people on my private group list.
11) I disabled embedding so the video could not be freely distributed, since our goal was to assure a measure of privacy to our students.

The results were very gratifying. Each day we received numerous emails from parents, teachers and other students commenting on the trip, the video bloggers, and the students in general. It built up a good deal of enthusiasm and excitement about the trip which the kids were thrilled about when they called their parents or friends in the school.

We hope to send copies of the videoblog entries interspersed with photos from the trip to the students over the summer break.

Considering how easy and inexpensive it was, I am elated with the results and am planning on working in some improvements for next year’s DC trip!


Elky Langer said...

This sounds fabulous. I would love to do something like this for a school event/trip. How long did the moviemaker work, video rendering and final uploading take you each night?

Tamar said...

Another option for posting video with privacy restrictions would be to set up a Joomla! site, turn off self-registration, and restrict access to video section to registered users.