Sunday, September 27, 2009


The birds are singing in the background as I lay in my hammock soaking up the sun and watching the gentle lapping of the ocean waves. Suddenly I realize that I am only watching a video – I could have sworn I was right there. Isn’t videosharing fabulous.


My past experience with videosharing has been downloading videos. I have downloaded videos sent to me by e-mail. Some of the videos have been hilarious and provided me with a much needed belly laugh, some have been thought provoking and caused me to contemplate the state of the world and some have been tear jerkers that have made me want to put on my cape and save the world.

I have surfed YouTube and TeacherTube looking for video clips to augment a lesson, I have embedded video clips in Powerpoints for PD sessions and now I have embedded videos into my blog. My next challenge was to create a video. The technology of producing a video intrigued me but I am not brave or vain enough to star in a video (my life is not that interesting), so I decided to STAR my favorite subject, my new grand-daughter.

However, creating a video is not simple. It takes a great deal of thought and planning before any actual shooting (Will Richardson, 2009). I began this process with nervous excitement. I first spent time making a storyboard, picking backdrops and choosing costuming (playing dress up with my grand-daughter – all that pink). I then shot and re-shot the segments for the video (Why can’t six week olds do things on command?). The last step was the most challenging and it was to edit the footage into one seamless video complete with text, sound and transitions. The whole process was at the same time frustrating yet rewarding. It was frustrating to see just how much time it takes to create a very short video, even though programs like MovieMaker make the editing process easy to understand, as long as you, complete the tutorial, read carefully and follow directions. It was also very rewarding to see the final product that can be enjoyed now, and later at special occasions, like her wedding.

I am now confident and inspired to capture many memories on video and share them with my friends and family.


Videosharing has many facets – observing video, commenting on video and video creation (Davies and Merchant, 2009). Observing video can inform, provoke thought or just provide a good laugh; which is good for a person’s health. Finding videos, downloading and sharing them is simple once you have been shown the steps. I think I picked this up sitting in a hospitality room looking at a ridiculously funny video of a man just laughing and snorting. I wanted to share this video with my friends; funny where we get our incentive from.

Commenting on other’s videos requires motivation and the skill of being concise with words; something I will struggle with. I have the motivation to comment on videos of personal importance, that are sent to me or that I have sought out to use in my personal or professional life, but no desire to sit and seek out videos for the sake of commenting on them. I will leave this to people with a cinematography flair.

Creating videos is yet another facet of videosharing. I see how creating videos to capture moments in time to share with family and friends is appealing. It allows people to stay connected, share memories and grow closer together. For me it could be videotaping my grand-daughter as she grows and changes, then sharing these precious moments with friends and family or keeping them as a video journal of her life. It could also be videotaping a unique holiday to share with friends and family who have never experienced the place that we are fortunate enough to visit. It could be videotaping and sharing an event that my ailing parents who could not attend. After all memories are stronger if they are shared.

I can also see how creating a thought provoking video about a real issue can enlighten an audience, raise awareness of an issue or cause others to examine their practices and potentially help to make the world a better place. I can not however, at this point in my life, see myself creating videos to increase awareness of social issues. But no one knows what challenges or opportunities lie in their future.

What I don’t understand is posting a video to a public site such as YouTube that is ridiculous or boring and serves no purpose other than to satisfy a person’s own ego. Marco Torres said these videos “should have wings” and be made for real audiences with real purposes (Davies and Merchant, 2009). I realize that not everyone shares the same sense of purpose. Some people’s purpose might be to be “discovered” or to market their product. But if it really is for a small group to share, post it on your Facebook page, don’t clog up the air waves with your self-satisfying countless numbers of videos. OK, now that that is out of my system.

Another technology that intrigues me is the ability to take a video that you have produced and make it into a video podcast or MP4 file. This technology further enhances the producer’s ability to share the video with even more people and “thicken existing social relations” (Davies and Merchant, 2009).

So many things to do and I am always in such a hurry to get them done. I need to slow down and go back to the beach.


Snelson (2008) says that there are three reasons for using video in a school. They are cognitive value, experiential value and nurturing value. In the past at school I have used videos in my school for all three reasons. I have used videos to share inspiration or humor with my staff during professional development sessions. In my classes I have used videos to stimulate thought at the beginning of a lesson, to demonstrate a technique, to provide information or to create appreciation of another person’s reality.

Now, I would like to increase the opportunities for students to comment on other student’s videos and create videos of their own. Commenting on videos will not only expose students to a topic but will motivate them to further enhance their skills of analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Students can comment on videos produced by unknown people and then once they create their own videos students can comment on each others. The process of commenting can serve as a source for constructive criticism as well as a source for the provocation of thought about an issue.

Having students create videos stretches their intellects and provides them with the opportunity to use higher level thinking skills. Teachers just need to be aware that if students are truly going to learn higher level thinking skills they must let the students be creative and not be so prescriptive in the assignment that it just becomes a follow my recipe lesson. For example there is a huge difference between asking students to videotape someone at home making supper and filming someone at home doing something that displays a positive caring emotion without touching.

Teaching higher level thinking is addressed by David Warlick in his blog 2Cents. He feels that if teachers are merely teaching a process, then targeting comprehension and knowledge skills is fine, but such pedagogy is not going to build the skills necessary for real 21st Century life. Teachers need to teach students to solve problems and be creative because this is what is going to be demanded of them in their new jobs.

Another skill necessary for 21st Century learners is to view content critically. YouTube is similar to anything on the Internet, it has not gone through editors and therefore it’s truthfulness and accuracy is not tested. Students need to be taught how to check its accuracy and not just accept everything they read or see. The only way to do this is through exposure. Again it becomes a matter of, if it is not done at the school level where will it be done? Are we doing a huge disservice to our students by not providing them with the opportunity to critically evaluate things on the Internet?

Exposing students and staff to realities beyond their world is also made possible through live video streaming. The use of the video suite at our school has made it possible to visit museums, speak with experts and share ideas with other colleagues that otherwise would not be logistically or financially possible. The use of the technology of live video streaming is in its infancy stage in our school jurisdiction but has provided very valuable experiences for staff professional development, Distance Education for small schools who can not afford specialty teachers and virtual tours of novel places.

The largest stumbling block to using videosharing in school is the questionable content of sites like YouTube. Davies and Merchant (2009) explore the need to teach students to navigate around controversial sites. I agree it is paramount for students to learn this skill and as with most skills, the one place we can be assured that it is taught, is in school. Students are going to be faced with questionable content whether it is at school or at home. We must be proactive and teach them how to handle this content in a mature fashion because if we do not they may never have an adult who does. Sites like YouTube are supposedly “user regulated” ( Davies and Marchant, 2009) however, the acceptability of the content becomes a “freedom of speech” debate. I see the debate over content as more of a continuum or slippery slope, not cut and dry. The issues of voice and creativity give rise to the fact that students are going to be faced with controversial content. It is how they handle the situation that counts. Handling the situation positively can be modeled and taught.

Another concern is the amount of video that breaches copyrights. I understand, from my extensive research with quasi-experts, my children, that the best way to see if something is pirated is to wait for a week. If it is not pulled within a few days of being posted then it is probably okay. YouTube and TeacherTube are “user regulated” so anything that is pirated is usually found within 24 hours of being posted and then removed.

What about schools and students that do not have the required tools? Will they fall behind? For some schools it may be financial constraints or the lack of pioneers in their technology departments. For some students it may be the intellectual capacity, maturity and creativity to use these technologies. In the Web 2.0 world what happens to the struggling student who is not very creative. How does the use of this technology enhance or defeat his efficacy? (This would be an interesting study as I could not find any information in this area.)

It seems as though I end with more questions than answers but is this really negative? I believe we grow by asking questions and seeking answers. For now, where is that beach?


Davies, Julia. Merchant, Guy. (2009) Web 2.0 for Schools: Learning and Social Participation. New York, NY: Peter Lang

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. (2nd ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press

Ten Video Sharing Services Compared. As retrieved Sept. 24, 2009

Snelson, Chareen. (2008). Web Based Video in Education: Possibilities and Pitfalls. As retrieved Sept. 24, 2009 from

Warlick, David. (2009). Reasoning Our Way In. As retrieved Sept. 24, 2009 from

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Iceberg Is Melting - Photosharing

I have been cold to the idea of using Web 2.0 in my classroom citing all of the usual excuses like FOIP, possible copyright infringement and questionable content. However, this course is opening my eyes so wide that my brain hurts. I now view 21st learning differently and recognize the advantages of teaching my students the tools of Web 2.0.


I began the photosharing section of my Web 2.0 journey sitting on an iceberg with an imaginary closed copy of “Digital Photography for Dummies” in my shaking hand. It is still in my hand, however, my hand is steadier now and I have at least opened the book and read the first chapters while doing a walkabout at the tip of the iceberg.

After getting started, I was soon excited to see all of the possibilities that photosharing had to offer. Sites such as Flickr, Photobucket, and Webshots made uploading pictures, digital cropping, adding text and enhancing picture quality simple, quick and efficient. Even technologically challenged people, such as myself, can create a digital scrapbook, a slideshow or link these pictures to their Facebook page.

Looking back, it was easy but it did not come without some frustration. There were many trial and error attempts before success. But nothing that an open mind and a sense of adventure could not tackle. The beauty is that, as long as you keep an original stored somewhere, you can play all you want and any mistakes are only a few keystrokes away from being fixed.
I am now inspired to practice photosharing, digital scrapbooking and then confidently share the beginning of the journey with my colleagues and students. Who knows this may even lead into creating something which is worthy of posting for public scrutiny.


I have learned that Photosharing, like an iceberg, has many layers. You can engage in photosharing as a peripheral observer at the top of the iceberg, be a producer of digital photosharing as you venture forth and scout out the terrain of the iceberg or enter the more intense and dynamic layer of social participation in a community linked by common interests in photosharing as you dive into the depths of the layers of the iceberg.

My personal use of photosharing began with an observation of the sites and photos that others had created. Then I began to produce my own digital pictures complete with titles, descriptions and text on the pictures. From this I created a slideshow and made scrapbook pages to share with family and friends. Photosharing increases the connectedness and intimacy allowing for the sharing of memories, inside jokes, accomplishments, milestones and issues. For my daughter, who is away at school, it has been a great stress relief. The ability to see photos of her new niece, has allowed her to not only feel more intimately connected with us but has made her feelings of separation diminish. She knows that we are just a click away.

Photosharing sites also act as a repository for all of your photos. Sites such as Flickr allow you to catalogue your pictures according to personal tags so that you can easily retrieve them. The web storage frees up space on your hard drive and the ability to tag pictures saves hours (if anyone actually did it) of cataloguing pictures. The added bonus is that now your photos can be accessed anytime, anywhere by you. The potential problem however, is that computer savvy people may also be able to access the photos of your loved ones and use them for unsavory ends. This danger can hopefully be eliminated by the privacy settings.

For me it is the need to balance the fear of digital piracy with the realization that photosharing has positive ends. Being part of the public side of photosharing is one I have not entered but I can see how public photosharing would be a positive way to enhance the social consciousness of global citizens. As people share photos of common interests or global events they develop a sense of community that makes our differences dissipate and magnifies our similarities. These feelings of unification will hopefully lead to a stronger global community and I would like to participate in this community. It is just too far down the iceberg for me at this point in time.


Teachers need to focus on the learning before they attempt the teaching. Educators are quick to jump on a “bandwagon” before being fully aware of the uses and pitfalls of a new pedagogy. Using photosharing could fall into the same trap. Do not just sit at the top of the iceberg but scale down and try all of the capacities of the tool before you attempt photosharing with your staff or students.

Ideas of how to use photosharing in your learning and teaching are identified in our textbooks, in journal articles, in blog posts, etc. Try photosharing in:

Social Studies – link to GeoEarth for pictures of countries around the globe
Language Arts - Digital Story-Telling, Personal Storyboards, photo journals
Math - Everyday pictures to link math concepts to the real world
Science – Track the process of an experiment or Classification
Art - Art appreciation, view styles of artists, post student examples of methods
and styles
Health - Addiction prevention slideshow
Phys. Ed. – post techniques and examples for younger students
Use Flickr with a Smartboard to create sets to classify as part of something or not (Barry Bennet, John Antonetti)
Photo field trips
PD - sharing of curriculum ideas – sharing of methods of photosharing

But this is only the tip of the Iceberg. There are many ways to implement photosharing beyond the mere sharing of photos. The capacity to comment on photos, explore cognitive reasoning behind the photos/comments and build networks of people with common interests is socially empowering. However, teachers need to be very careful if they are promoting the use of photosharing outside of their own building. Anytime you are promoting sharing with an audience that you do not know, you are opening yourself up to issues of privacy, confidentiality and appropriateness. One needs to ask themselves can the benefits be derived in another way?

That concludes my tour around the iceberg of photosharing. Remember a picture is worth a 1000 words. So start photosharing and hang on as the iceberg melts.


Davies, Julia. Merchant, Guy. (2009) Web 2.0 for Schools: Learning and Social Participation. New York, NY: Peter Lang

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. (2nd ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press

Chu, Jennifer. Van Dussen, Erik. Pedagogical Uses of Flickr. Retrieved Sept. 17, 2009 from

Hartley, John. McWilliam, Kelly. Burgess, Jean E. Banks, John A. (2008) The Uses of Multimedia: Three Digital Literacy Case Studies. Retrieved Sept 17, 2009 from

Schrum, Lynne. Solomon, Gwen. Web 2.0 and You: Starting the Conversation. Retrieved Sept 17, 2009 from

Andrew’s Blog (2009) Students Seeking Relevance In Education. Retrieved on Sept. 17, 2009 from C:\Documents and Settings\Reception\Desktop\Students Seeking Relevance In Education - Classroom 2_0.mht

Monday, September 7, 2009

Possibilities of Social Networking in the Classroom

I believed that our school was missing a growing phenomenon but until this afternoon I had no idea that Social Networking could have so much educational value. I did not realize the connection between Social Networking and learning. All I have ever seen is my kids exchanging idle chit chat on social networking sites that I didn't think anyone would be interested in but their friends. Now that I have had the chance to play with some of these sites I can see the vast potential for learners. I see the connection between learner engagement and Social Networking.

Thank you for this opportunity to enlighten myself and I look forward to continuing the journey.

The Journey Into 2.0

I am embarking on a journey into the world of Web 2.o. Wish me luck !!!!