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If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words….How Much is a Video Worth? September 14, 2007

Posted by Joselyn Todd in Educational Technology, screencast.


Image: Galileo’s Original Work Regarding Projectile Motion (Public Domain)

I have been contemplating this blog entry for a couple of weeks now. The statement “a picture is worth a thousand words” has started to take new meaning for me in the framework of a 21st Century teaching pedagogy.I have been making videos for my students for a year or so, but one day this last week I tried something different. I showed the students how to create a screencast ( a video which creates a picture of what they draw and say on their computers) using Windows Media Encoder. I then posed a question after a hands-on experiment regarding projectile motion and several online simulations regarding projectile motion: ” Is there any angle that results in the greatest range when shooting a projectile and if so, why?” Students had 30 minutes to create a 3-4 minute video describing their thoughts. The student products were astounding (and not because they are worthy of Academy Awards :-).Through these videos, I have more insight regarding the true essence of their understanding than I could have ever gathered by giving them a standardized test, worksheet, quiz, or lab report. I found out what they REALLY understood and misunderstood. It has forever changed my thoughts about assessment. So I ask my readers this question: – Using a 21st Century teaching and learning pedagogy, how do we really assess student learning? I am a scientist by training. I collect data….10/12 correct; 90/100 on the rubric; etc. Yet, when I watch these videos… I know who knows… I know who is just spitting back the answers. I can see that the LD student that scored a 65 on our standardized test clearly understands more than his 65 indicates. Another scary thought- I know that it is what this student will produce on his future high stakes written assessments that will undoubtedly place him into categories that may ultimately determine his pathway in life.A picture says a thousand words… How much is a video worth?Here is a video produced by one of “my boys”. He is 11. He struggles with some things. I like his video… CLICK HERE or on the picture below.



1. Karen - September 15, 2007

Hey Jos-
So much to ponder! Assessment has to change with the new literacies. I refer to David Warlick’s 2 Cents Worth blog:

‘..The most important idea that I come away with was one of the original “rants” of my blog.

For several years, many of us have been trying to make a case for thinking about education in new ways, largely as a result of technological advancements and their affects on how we use information. I think that many education leaders are listening now. I think that they are ready for clear images and stories about 21st century classrooms and what teachers and students should be doing to better prepare a generation of new century citizens.

There is no Mindstorms… for the new information landscape. There have been a number of how-to books, including my own. But we have not yet painted a picture — defined, in a compelling way “what it looks like.”

I hope to start doing that.”

2. Eric 205 - September 19, 2007

After watching the video I’m amazed to see what options are available to kids now to help further their education. However, i’m a little worried it doesn’t really matter. I’m a sophmore in college going into secondary education, and I have rather recently had to “shadow” a former teacher of mine for one of my education classes. During this time I was able to sit down and have a conversation with him and another past teacher of mine, and the topic of all the regulations put on teachers and how they need to teach their students came up. I remember them talking about the different requirements of lesson plans and other classroom procedures, including testing. It sounds like (in Michigan at least) testing is becoming more and more state controlled. I was under the impression that with all the new inforcements they said they state was making on teachers, that soon teachers would have very little control over what was on the tests they handed to their students, and their job was pretty much just to grade these tests for the state.

This long explanation brings me to my question I pose for you – with growing state restrictions on testing, how can we expect to be able to use new and inventive meathods of testing on students? I share your wonder of what unfair fate a child who scores below average on a regular standardized test, but could prove their understanding of the material using a program such as the one you posted a video of. I think programs like these could open new doors to students who struggle with taking tests, but will state law permit it?

3. Joselyn Todd - September 19, 2007

Eric, We can only hope that times are changing and that those who control the “purse strings” and policy will begin to “see the light”. What I try to focus on is the fact that LEARNING is the goal…not test taking. I’ve rather decided that a student’s future rests heavily upon his/her ability to adapt and learn in new conditions and with new information. I also believe that big business is beginning to realize that they need employees that can do better than score well on standardized tests. They need employees that are amazingly creative, highly adaptive, and innovative in their application of knowledge. I believe that the landscape will slowly change. Many colleges now incorporate a creative work into their application procedure. For those of us who understand what true learning is all about, we need to work hard to spread the word (and show) the majority who have learned in a Web 1.0 setting just what true learning is all about. Cheers – Joselyn

4. Adam S. - September 21, 2007

First I must say that I found the video presentation to be pretty cool. I wish that I was given that kind of opportunity while in K-12. Like Eric, I’m a currently a student in college with plans to teach once I graduate. I understand that the teachers are under enormous pressure from school boards to adjust their testing methods to give students a better glimpse into the world of standardized testing. I also understand that this is somewhat unfair way of measuring a students knowledge, my girlfriend for example is very intelligent unfortunately she is a terrible test taker.

I find it difficult to believe, however, that you cannot grasps a students knowledge as well through a lab report as you can through these videos. As far as I can tell they are essentially the same thing, only the videos have the added bonus of being able to hear what is ‘going on inside the students head.’ I do not mean to offend you, I am just saying that a lab report or a class discussion could also be used to gauge students grasp of the material.

If I do become a teacher I will try to focus, as you seem do Joselyn, on what the students are learning rather how they do on a test regardless of what technology I decide to take advantage of in the classroom.

5. Stasigr - October 29, 2007

Hello, very nice site, keep up good job!
Admin good, very good.

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