How to use videos to support teaching and learning? Video technics and different ways to utilize them as a narrative medium has to be studied, practiced and internalized. This case study describes the mobile video workshops for higher education teachers organized in Finland by the CREATO-project.
Mastery of video expression and video technology is no longer the prerogative of media professionals alone. With smart phones and free video editing software anyone can shoot professional looking high-definition videos, edit video footage digitally and publish videos online. Nowadays, it is also possible to share other user’s videos, to comment them and to evaluate them on web-based online channels and platforms (1). In technical terms, video production technics has become more accessible. Video screening, -sharing and -publishing is now possible for almost everyone and it is also possible to share and to receive videos globally.
However, most users do not know much about actual video expression and audiovisual storytelling. Video technics and different ways to utilize these technics as a narrative medium is something that has to be studied, practiced and internalized. The understanding of how to utilize videos for different purposes, using different applications is needed as well. Video as such is just a medium among others. Using videos as a tool to support teaching and learning requires some specific skills. The teachers’ lack of technological know-how, as well as outright technological fear may slow down taking over video technology as one possible teaching method among others.
When planning and making a pedagogical video, the teacher should first think about how the video itself supports learning, and how it enables students to engage in a particular type of learning activity.
Understanding video technology and video expression requires training. The various pedagogical uses of video technology and expression are not automatically known to everyone. Telling a story through video is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced.
For many, the notion of video expression or audiovisual narration is limited to the opinion that the camera only captures the activity shown in front of the camera. For example, recording a lecture capture video in a lecture hall is neither video expression nor video pedagogy - it is merely an audiovisual recording of a happening. Recording a lecture for students to watch is often perceived as an advanced video pedagogical teaching method. Giving the students an opportunity to watch the lecture afterwards is a teaching method, but what is the actual study method in that case? Just watching a video? When planning and making a pedagogical video, the teacher should first consider how the video itself supports learning, and how it enables the students to engage in a particular type of learning activity (2).
How can videos be used to support teaching and learning? How can lite video equipment (e.g. smartphones and freeware) be used to produce high-quality material for teaching and learning? How to edit and share video material that would actually promote learning? In the CREATO Project coordinated by Oulu University of Applied Sciences, Mobile Video Workshops were organized for teachers, as well as for ICT-companies and other SME’s. The workshops were a part of the project’s main theme: digital media and marketing communications. This case study focuses specifically on CREATO Project’s mobile video workshops for teaching staff. Thus, educational content focusing on digital marketing targeted at SMEs is not addressed. The focus in on video pedagogy, i.e. the utilization of videos in teaching and learning.
The CREATO project was aimed at promoting the growth and development of small and medium size companies in the region of Northern Ostrobothnia in Finland. The project supported educating the target groups i.e. companies’ personnel according the Finnish Government’s development programme of immaterial value creation. The essentials of the value creation in the creative industry lie in utilising the design, communications and media, software services and creative competence as a catalyst for economic growth.
The objective of the project was to alleviate the effects of the structural change at the Oulu region with competence promoting the growth of the creative industry. Skills and competences of small and medium size enterprises and teaching staff of the region, were developed in the spirit of lifelong learning, in order to react to future needs of the society.
The project organized trainings that emphasized the benefits of design thinking and using creativity for the benefit of different actors. The themes of the workshops and seminars included digital media and communications, service design, eLearning as well as managing and utilizing creative competence in product and service development. The flexibility and quality of learning at the training courses was improved with the tools of intelligent eLearning and multiform learning. Furthermore, co-operation between the target groups provided new models for working and deepened the collaboration with educational organisations and employers utilizing existing hub environments.
Main goal in the Mobile Video Workshops was to teach participants technical and expressional video producing skills. Short pedagogical videos were created with mobile phones, free editing software and free online channels (e.g. YouTube).
In the beginning, the participants were asked to think about the role of the medium – the video device itself. Are we talking about a recording or a story? Has the recording device been used as a capturing medium, or has it been used as an expression method to tell a certain story to designated audience? Video as a device could be imagined as a pen: what do you do with that pen and how do you use that pen as a storytelling tool (3).
The participants had to unlearn a common definition which defines pedagogical video as capturing reading lectures and publishing them online. In the Mobile Video Workshops, pedagogical video was elucidated from a very pragmatic point of view: how the created videos could be used as a supporting tool for teaching and learning. What are the opportunities and potential for the teachers and for the students to use the videos?
Video as a device could be imagined as a pen:
what do you do with that pen and how do you use
the pen as a storytelling tool.
The workshops focused on the following three main categories of video pedagogy.
Video as a recording medium. When capturing something with a video camera, cinematographic expression is not used as a storytelling medium. Role of the recording device is passive.
Video as a document (4). Real life content. For example, demonstration videos. In documentary videos cinematographic expression is used to tell a certain story to specific audience by editing together different real-life content footage.
Using cinematographic expression and structured dramaturgy as a medium. The role of the recording device is active. Using montage in order to create eligible meanings by editing independent and discrete shots together (6). What to include into the video and what to exclude. Framing, continuity, narration and cinematographic dramaturgy has to be considered. Made-up reality created by scripted characters, actions, environments and emotions. Music and sound effects used to identify viewer to the drama.
There are several ways to use videos as a supporting tool for teaching and learning within these three main categories. The participants were guided to take pedagogical benefits into account.
How to use pedagogical videos in practice:
The teacher can capture his lecture to be watched, listened and familiarized with later on. In terms of interaction, lecture capture does not enable students to ask questions, so an active communication aspect will be missed when using lecture capture as a teaching tool (7).
The teacher can show short intro videos to students to get the students to the same starting level at the beginning of a teaching session or some specific case or assignment. From intro videos or interest awakening videos the students will get to know the main topic and core content of the subject. Thus, intro videos could be described as a first orientation to the main topic and subject (8).
Demonstration videos are maybe the best known and the most used method of pedagogical videos. The teacher can demonstrate both pragmatic and very abstract topics with “how to do it” videos (9). For example, YouTube is nowadays full of “how to do it” videos. From the learning perspective, compared to written manuals, they are much more efficient and faster demonstrations, because the viewer receives information in multiple ways at the same time: video, images, sounds, voices, texts and graphics. With these multimedia elements the teacher can easily show how a certain task is done or how to solve a certain problem.
Teacher can share pedagogical videos as teaching materials through the internet, and the actual time in contact teaching is used for communication between the teacher and peer-group of students. Before class the students get acquainted with video material individually and they might also do some preliminary assignments. During contact teaching students are able to widen their knowledge of a particular subject with the help of the teacher. In this method the video is the actual audiovisual lecture or task, and the real-time contact session is a student-centred and teacher-guided problem-solving teaching method (10).
Students can easily show their level of know-how in certain knowledge area by recording videos of themselves performing certain tasks (11). For example in School of Media and Performing Arts in Oulu University of Applied Sciences, dance students have recorded videos of themselves performing in dance shows. These videos are uploaded to school’s YouTube channel after the show. The teacher can then watch the videos and evaluate the student’s dancing skills and development right after the show without being present at the actual show.
In Finland teamwork in study groups is part of the studies from an early age. Often these teamwork projects are carried out as written essays or written learning diaries12. Although video is not a new technology in the 2020’s (consumer camcorders entered the market in late 70’s), it is still surprisingly rare to make videos as teamwork projects. It is still more common to produce written texts or poster collages attached to the wall with removable adhesive putty. A much more efficient and versatile option would be to produce study group video productions, including moving pictures, photos, voice-overs, music, texts, graphics and animations (12). This would enable the students to use their own imagination, to solve technical and practical issues, to work as a team on a real case, and to learn to use different digital equipment, tools, storytelling narrations and a number of different video sharing interfaces. Organizing the group to work audiovisually, students will develop valuable presentation skills as well.
Trigger Video is a scripted and produced short audiovisual story with a main message to the target audience5. Dramatic structure of the video is scripted and structured from the very first shot to the last. Genre or form of the video doesn’t matter; the video may look like a short film, a music video, a commercial, sketch, mockumentary, tv-news etc. Externally it could resemble e.g. a comedy, a horror movie, an action movie, an epic drama or a black and white silent movie. In the last case the genre is used as a pastiche only. When the audience recognizes the genre, they already know at the beginning of the video what to expect. That gives the director many opportunities to time and target actual messages to the well-known story structure.
Actual pedagogical core content, the message itself is transmitted in a latent way when exaggerated by generalising (13). When using the form of a short film with dramatic structure, the viewer identifies himself to the main character of the story similar to watching a fiction film. The viewer follows the plot, empathizes to the scenes of the story and even waits for the dénouement. When using methods of comedy for instance the viewer laughs at the exaggerated scenes while noticing consistency to real life content, when knowing that he/she is watching a pedagogical video specifically.
Below is a link to an example of a trigger video. The main goal of the video is to express and suggest different feedback methods for different teaching situations in higher education. Video includes interviews, insert shots, staged scenes, exemplifying graphics and photos, background music, sound effects and texts, and the video itself is shrouded to form of a documentary film. Video shows pointedly different situations where certain feedback methods are used by teacher and underlines how those methods serve the certain purposes.
The video includes various examples of how comedy or humour in general is utilized to underline a specific message. For example, in the opening scene the teacher wearing a whole ice hockey armor suit receives feedback forms from the students - like a villain receives a rain of bullets in a stereotypical action movie or war movie scene. Flickering text (representing a goal light alarm) underlines the eventual message: “Feedback form is not a complaint form!”.
In the beginning of the workshop participants were introduced to theories of cinematographic expression and audiovisual storytelling. After theory-oriented start the participants were introduced to smartphone-based video technology and settings, and to handle and record video footage hands on. Participants were also guided to use free video editing software in post-production (Da Vinci Resolve, Hit Film Express and iMovie).
The participants made different kinds of pedagogical videos depending on the desired use case. Demonstration videos were the most actualized “genre” of their videos. Most of the participants’ background was in the field of Applied Sciences. Thus, participants made videos they can use in their own professional field. Short orientation videos, or introduction videos were popular as well. No one wanted to do lecture capture videos after they realized they can use several different technics and approach angles in audiovisual expression. Some participants would have liked to make flipped classroom videos or trigger videos, but the length of four to six-hour workshop was too limited for making a pervasive video production from pre-production to the published final video. However, the participants got advice and tips about how to make larger pedagogical video productions for themselves in the future.
In these times of commonness of mobile devices
and free video editing software,
video production has become attainable and familiar
working process to everyone.
The way in which the participants used video equipment and acquired video expression skills varied widely depending on the way these technics and theories were internalized - and how much knowledge of video expression they had before the workshop. In the beginning, the participants were at different starting levels. Some of the participants had made several high-tech video productions while others did not even know how to handle mobile devices and their settings when shooting videos.
Technical adversities were faced several times during post-production. Some participant’s laptops were too limited for video editing, and others video format produced by their smartphones was not compatible with used editing software. In these cases, the participants were guided to use different freeware editing software instead and to convert their original videos to more common video and audio formats. When working with computers, technical issues has to be faced as a “normal part of the workflow”. Most common issues during digital video editing process are unsupported video- and audio formats, too limited RAM, and incompatible hardware decive like an integrated graphics card.”
The commonness of mobile devices and free video editing software has made video production attainable and familiar working process to everyone, at least to the so-called “diginatives”. Producing videos, and watching online videos is a common way to perceive the world nowadays. Audiovisual storytelling is like a modern penmanship, which can be taken over by everyone (14).
Finally, when saying that video production is a privilege for media professionals only, we are actually telling that it will be hard and complicated to learn to utilize it. Therefore, are we actually teaching to use just pen and paper instead, because we have learned to use them during our own continuum of education? (15) When we see video as a storytelling medium among others, the technical status of the medium is not emphasized too much. Thus, fear and detestation toward technical substance of video production will be mitigated.