Evidence of Analytical and Integrative Thinking

Summer Semester, 2004

EDIT 797c - Advanced Graphic Design and Digital Video 

The Power of Video

Video is a powerful yet underutilized online teaching tool. The Web allows video to be broadcasted across the globe so that students can access it from any computer. Teachers can help their students visualize whatever the teacher wants to communicate. Any  teacher may want to describe a technical procedure or share a piece of course-related information. Math teachers can illustrate the order of operation or steps to solving an equation. Science teachers can use video to share scientific data or illustrate a hypothesis. Social Studies educators can share historical artifacts, discuss the news, or deliver a lecture. English teachers can share dramatic poetic, and other literary passages by recording them to video and posting them on their course web pages. 
The possibilities for educational application of video on the web are limited only by the imagination of the teacher or web author.



Video allows locations and scenery that is remote to be brought close up. Using video to display far away places allows for the creation of a virtual field trip that is more effective than simply posting still images or text descriptions. The possibilities for educational application of video on the web are limited only by the imagination of the teacher or web author.

Technical Considerations When Using Video 

Teachers can use video that they create themselves using a video camera. They can also capture video from a television show or VHS video tape if they have a video capture card and the appropriate software. Using video editing software, a video montage of still images can be developed to communicate a series of ideas. Video editing software allows for a number of visual effects that can make such a montage more interesting. Fading to black or white, scrolling text, and scene transitions can turn a video montage of still images into a powerful presentation tool equal or superior to PowerPoint depending on the goal of the web-based teacher. In fact, video clips can be inserted into PowerPoint presentations, thereby combining  both media in a way that provides an effective may to communicate. Video and PowerPoint can be posted on a web server so that these media can be run within the web browser. Such a technique allows educators and mentors to convey information to on-line students efficiently. The only caveat is that such methods require high-speed Internet access due to the large file size video and PowerPoint can create.

To see an example of the way video can be developed out of still images, visit the website on the Monuments of Washington, DC. The video was created by importing still images taken by a digital camera into video editing software. Each image is displayed for about ten seconds, and scrolling text was added to provide the viewer with information on what is being viewed. I added the Navy Hymn in the background as a way to supplement the visual  data because the music is often played to memorialize those lost at sea or in battle.

Video data comes in a number of major formats, them most common and widely used is the .mpg format. The most basic format is the Audio Visual Interface (AVI). Files that allow faster download such as the .wvm (Windows Video format) lose some definition in the image, so there is a tradeoff when using the faster format. The Mac supports the .mov format, and these can be played on the PC as well.


Video In Web Projects

Students can take on roles and record their vignettes onto video tape, all of which can be posted on the web and shared with their teacher, mentor, or other students.


Students can also use video to make up a part of their own web-based projects. Video can be used to simulate a news broadcast, share dramatic passages, or illustrate scientific concepts. Students can take on roles and record their vignettes onto video tape, all of which can be posted on the web and shared with their teacher, mentor, or other students. Students need guidance in the development of their video clips. They need to learn how to insert appropriate information, reduce file sizes, and enhance their videos so that they are useful pieces of learning material.


Students can also use Macromedia Flash to enhance their web projects, and teachers can use Flash to convey important course information. Flash is interactive, so depending on an author's skill level, Flash is an excellent tool for presenting video information on the web. The challenge with Flash is that 20 to 30 seconds of video data can take hours to produce. Like other video editing, Flash authoring is done in a timeline format, and each component of the video is manipulated in the form of a layer. Flash can also be used to create interactive content where students can click on components to answer questions, view mouse rollovers, and cause other scenes to initiate. To see an example of Flash used in educational websites, visit the Cassutto Memorial Pages.

Screen Capture: Macromedia Flash Authoring Tool

Video Teleconferencing

Digital video cameras can also be used as teleconferencing mechanisms if one or both on-line participants have web-based cameras, or web cams. Students can use Microsoft Netmeeting to chat face-to-face using video and audio to share data. Netmeeting also contains a whiteboard where participants can collaborate on a project in real time in spite of their geographical location. Netmeeting also contains an application-sharing utility, where one user can control the screen of the user at the other end. Netmeeting allows only for two-way conversations, whereas text chat rooms allow for multiple participants. Just as with text-based chat, video conferences can allow mentors to provide feedback to their charges. They can communicate with the aid of inflection and intonation, two components that text-based chat and email lack. The beauty of video teleconferencing is that students and teachers can communicate face-to-face from distances that range around the world. Teachers and students can share their experiences on field trips, relay images and content from tourist and educational locations, and they can answer questions from students in real time from around the globe. Cultural, scientific, and historical data can be displayed on the screen from which course content can be developed.

Final Considerations

Inside the Jefferson Memorial. Inset: the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence

The Jefferson Memorial
These types of images can be inserted into video editing software to make up parts of a movie.
Images © George Cassutto, 2004

Exterior: The Jefferson Memorial Washington, DC

Using video in our web modules for the Virtual High School was a challenging yet refreshing change to the usual fare we had been developing up to that time. I knew that I wanted to have on-line students create an electronic memorial to people who died during the Cold War. The National Mall in Washington, DC contains a number of memorials that could be used as examples for students who were charged with designing their own memorial as part of their study of the Cold War. I took my kids one Sunday to the National Mall to see the monuments there. We visited the Washington Monument, 

Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Holocaust Memorial Museum, FDR Memorial, Vietnam and Korean War Memorials, and the newly unveiled World War II Memorial. I chronicled the entire journey with my digital camera. After uploading all the images to my PC, I imported the best ones into a two-minute video that would allow the student to see the design and architecture of monuments currently on the Mall. By incorporating video into the module, students were given a dynamic visual presentation of data they could use to include those concepts into their own design.

There are numerous other applications for video within the Virtual High School. The learning curve on using the video editing software is somewhat steep, and it is difficult to replicate the process outside of the classroom since much of what is needed is not available at home. The video editing hardware and software we used in class is all designed for Apple's Macintosh platform. Most of the other operations we complete in class is Windows-based, so making the switch can sometimes cause hardship. File conversions from Windows platform to Mac must also be done when transferring video data from home to school. Nevertheless, if the software, hardware, and ideas all come together in one place, the student will benefit from its use.