Students love using their technology (i.e., cell phones) and enjoy the freedom of choice within class assignments. When students are allowed to create projects that communicate their learning through familiar, relatable expressions, they take more ownership of the project and content. Rather than always requiring written essays, occasionally allow students to create media using their cell phones to communicate what they have learned.
In truth, this can become a sloppy train wreck, so teachers cannot simply tell students they should record videos and expect high-quality results. You need to help them improve their skill. Similarly to a rubric, teachers must model and share best practices for video use. To help you, the Stride Professional Development Center offers just a few tips.
Quiet space – While this sounds like common sense, you need to say this up-front. Phones will pick up everything from road noise to running dishwashers. Students must learn to be aware of their surroundings and adjust as necessary.
Background – When recording, the subject in focus needs to be intentional. Teach your students to ask, "Is everything in the video frame supporting my message, or is it distracting for my viewers?" Again, students need to adjust their surroundings as necessary.
Lighting – The best lighting for video is typically natural light, but sometimes it can be unreliable. Make sure there are no bright lights behind you. Your best light will typically be in front of you and to the side. Multiple lights are preferred. Here’s a “pro tip” for you - minimize the light reflecting off glasses by moving light further to the side.
Rear-facing lens – Use the rear-facing camera. This lens is higher quality and gives you a definitive focal point, making the audience feel you are speaking directly to them. Far too often, someone recording with the front-facing lens wants to watch themselves record the video, distracting both the on-screen talent and the viewer. Be sure to clean the lens. Here’s another “pro tip” to make this even better - an inexpensive cell phone stand can greatly improve recordings.
Keep it horizontal – While people debate this, horizontal is usually your best option. It provides a more polished view of the person and their surroundings. For those editing, this setup provides more flexibility.
Positioning – The best camera frame typically includes a span from the bone at the base of your sternum up to one hand width above your head. The camera should be about nose height. For those editing, providing more margin is even better.
Map out a script – Writing is always an essential part of presenting, even on-screen. Making a video is no reason to feel like you can communicate clearly without having clearly organized your thoughts. Have your students follow writing standards and hand in either a script or outline to accompany their videos.
Sharing these tips with students will greatly improve your students' video projects. You can even host an armchair interview with a student or two who exhibit an exceptional knack for videography.
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