Monday, March 3, 2014

Week Six Blog Post - Video and the Modern Librarian

I love making videos.  Maybe better said, I love making screencasts.  As part of my efforts to flip my classroom, something I am becoming a bigger and bigger believer in and something that I could see being really successful in a 1:1 or BYOD environment, I have become a pretty frequent poster of videos to YouTube.  I use screencast-o-matic to make most of my tutorials.  It is as straight forward a process as there could be to do something like this.  The process that I have come up with is to write a script, create a PowerPoint based on the script, go to to find creative commons licensed images, add them to the PowerPoint, and then record away.  You can see any of the ones that I have created here at my website.  For those students that do not have internet access, something that I cannot assume they have, I have saved these screencasts as both quicktime and windows viewable options on a CD/DVD so that they can viewed on a computer without internet access.  I think it is so valuable to meet students where they are at and I think that video is the best way to do that.

That being said, I think that students should be making their own videos.  It is not as hard as it once was and, in many cases, they don't even a video camera to make something happen.  I have been having my students create their own "Ken Burns-style" videos for the past few years and the pay off for that came a couple of years ago.  One day in between classes, one of my students came bouncing into my room saying "you'll never guess what."  Well, when they start with statements like that, I am always a loss for what comes next.  So, as I sat there with a stunned look on my face, she told me that her video on Dred Scott had something around 2,000 views (it now has over 4,000).  The smile on her face was worth everything that I had done as a teacher, and when she walked out of the room saying "I may have taught someone about Dred Scott," I could have walked away from teaching as a success.  It is that power that having students create videos has for me.  Yes, there are the skills of planning and creating that go into the video, but the video is only valuable if it is watched by others.  There was power for her in the realization that someone may have learned something because of what she had created and that should be the goal of everything we have our students create.

Along with that, though, comes issues surrounding copyright and fair use policies.  We have recently had a number of issues surrounding plagiarism at my school, which I am sure is not unique to us.  Students live in a world where everything is public knowledge and information, and different things are "mashed up" into a compilation.  What they don't seem to understand is that someone has put time and effort into creating those things that they are mashing together and they deserve credit for it, if not to be paid.  Given that so many of them are egocentric, I wonder if asking them if they felt they should be paid or have credit given to them if someone else used something they created in a presentation.  How would they feel?  Would they want to be paid for their creation?  Would they want to be credited with helping that person learn something?  I don't know if those sorts of things matter to this group of people.

The librarian, therefore, becomes the most important figure in protecting the rights of those who have created something.  The librarian at our school has prepared a wonderful presentation on plagiarism and when to cite sources, and is always prepare to share it with anyone who asks.  My fear is that we as teachers are not asking our students to do as much true research as we used to, and, therefore, we don't utilize the librarian in that traditional role of helping us find information anymore.  In the past, the librarian was someone who pointed us in the right direction to begin our research.  Now, research is a "google search" away.  If no one comes to the librarian asking for help with research, how can we provide help for them?  I don't think that we, as teachers, want to deal with plagiarism anymore and so we assign questions that are "ungoogleable" or are based on the documents that we provide to the students and, therefore, there is little need for them to cite sources beyond the "in document #1" style.  Have we become more concerned with their ability to analyze documents/literature and ask them only to support a thesis with evidence from the text rather than use the thoughts of an "expert" on the topic?  Is the traditional research paper a thing of the past?  Has the internet made documents easy to reach and decipher and on-line publishing made disseminating of this information too easy?  Is it possible that we can all be experts on a given topic and, therefore, there is no need to cite anyone else?

We, as librarians, have to go out to teachers and address our concerns for proper citation of sources with them.  We need to be part of conversations about research papers.  We must go out and ask the teachers in our buildings what are they asking their students to do for research, not can I help you set some research activity up.  We must be active in convincing teachers of the need to have their students do research and that we will be there to help them as they go.  There may have been a time when the librarian could sit back and wait for people to come to them with questions and concerns about their research.  That time has past and if we wish to be a part of helping teachers and students do research in the future, we must change how we view ourselves and our roles in buildings.

1 comment:

Ron Starc said...

My Screen Recorder Pro will work better for you. It is an excellent screencasting tool. Records your screen and audio from the speakers or your voice from the microphone - or both simultaneously. The recordings are clear and look great when played back on your PC or uploaded to YouTube. It will record directly to AVI, WMV, MP4, or FLV. Just perfect for creating tutorials, demos, and presentations. Plus, java is not required and there are no limits on recording length. Also, the recordings play back on any device.