The Audience is Watching 1 Running head: THE AUDIENCE IS WATCHING

The Audience is Watching: Effectively using video in your classroom and in online spaces. W. Ian O'Byrne University of Connecticut

The Audience is Watching 2 Mr. Clark, a high school English teacher tried to deal with factors revolving around his students and their relationships with online content. He knew that many of He

his students viewed online video content frequently. also recognized that some of the students that posted

online content were also the ones that had difficulty in his traditional English Literature class. Looking at the videos they posted online, Mr. Clark noticed a great deal of planning, transitions and high level thinking in the content they created. He also

noticed that these videos had been created by some of the same students that did poorly in his classroom, or were in danger of dropping out. If Mr. Clark could figure out a

way to incorporate the same critical thinking skills and ownership of work with his students, he knew many would benefit.

YouTube in the classroom This paper will provide evidence that students are learning when they are creating videos for classroom use. This paper will also provide an easy roadmap to use to help the average teacher begin to safely integrate video production into their classroom. The lessons will include

scaffolding to assist all learners, and allow the teacher

The Audience is Watching 3 to maintain control of the classroom. Finally, the

guidance will include ideas for rubrics and assessments of these video pieces. Today’s students live in two vastly different worlds. Outside of school, they successfully and with ease comprehend significant amounts and high levels of text, video, media in general. They do this on their own initiative because they want to - without any encouragement from teachers, administration or parents. Routinely, they

are multitasking, digesting and dispersing massive amounts of data, all communicated on a high level, frequently while manipulating different of media implements all at the same time. On their own, our students are plugged in, tuned in, and they are doing so with a very high degree of proficiency. Once they enter our school campuses, we

expect them to unplug, shut down and leave home the very technological devices they successfully use to communicate and with which they express themselves. We expect them to

adjust to the traditional pedagogy we think will prepare them for the future. Situations such as the one portrayed involving Mr. Clark may seem to be a little dramatic, but the fact is that they tend to be occurring on a more recent basis. The

The Audience is Watching 4 capabilities of our students, and the relatively inexpensive devices available for purchase make events like this much more feasible. An article in the Los Angeles

Times (Abdollah & Covarrubias, 2007) made concrete the new issues in a long-simmering controversy regarding the possession and use of technologic devices in a classroom. Students in the Santa Monica-Malibu United School District collected and posted video clips of teaching staff taken during school hours at the high school and posted these clips to their MySpace account, or directly on YouTube. Officials in the District were not aware of the practice, or the problems being caused, until most of the student population was engaged in the activity. The automatic

response by administrators and faculty was to restrict access to YouTube on school property and to prohibit the usage of digital cameras, personal digital assistants and laptops (Abdollah & Covarrubias, 2007) on the school campus. Situations like the one dramatized with the fictional Mr. Clark and the one at Malibu High, undermine the authority of the adults in the building, and spectacularly defame them in full view of the community. Schools are

ill-equipped to deal with the damaging effects that can happen instantaneously in a situation like this. The

The Audience is Watching 5 reaction most schools would have to this situation is to remove the material and discipline the students involved. Some schools, such as Malibu High move further and ban devices, such as cameras, video cameras, and phones from the campus in order to prevent further occurrences. issue that needs to be further examined is the communicative format in which the students expressed themselves in video, and online. The fact that the The

students defamed the staff is obviously reprehensible, but we should not overlook the skills involved in what the students have created. Used effectively, in a targeted and

structured manner, video can be an effective means for students to analytically and critically express themselves on a wide range of topics. The significance of the Malibu High episode that elevates it from inappropriate conduct and expression by some inconsiderate students is the response of the administration and faculty. They seem to have forsaken their role as educators seeking to train students in the technological implements necessary for success in this new age simply because some teachers were exposed to ridicule resulting from intemperate conduct during an unguarded moment.

The Audience is Watching 6 Visual Rhetoric The nature of literacy has been rapidly changing as new information and communication technologies (ICTs), such as the Internet and video, have entered our lives requiring new literacies from each of us (International Reading Association, 2002). Students are succeeding at communicating, and being visually literate online. The

students create identities in these online spaces, and expend the time and energy needed to continue this existence. Our students are successful in this endeavor

and we should recognize their achievement and find ways to use this electronic community to further open their horizons. Students are investing themselves, making critical decisions, and infusing a sense of love in their work in the artifacts they leave in online spaces. They seem to

evoke a sense of ownership that doesn’t always exist when they come into contact with literature, standard textual pieces and traditional written words in books. (Hull & Schultz, 2001) This lack of desire, or ownership is often highlighted by the groans that usually accompany new essays and reading assignments. The new literacies framework informs the process of effectively embedding video into the normal classroom

The Audience is Watching 7 routine. In the most recent review of the theory (Coiro,

Knobel, Lankshear & Leu, in press), there are four main points that shape new literacies. These are: (a) new

skills, strategies, dispositions, and social practices are required by new technologies for information and communication; (b) new literacies are central to full participation in a global community; (c) new literacies regularly change as their defining technologies change; and (d) new literacies are multifaceted and benefit from multiple points of view (Leu et al., 2007). The work that educators and students embark on when deciding to safely and effectively embed video into their classroom is not one that can that be dropped into to the school year with the hopes for success. A creative

cognitive continuum (Dunwoody et al., 2000) exists in relation to the attitude and aptitude of the teacher, and the students. Both parties use judgment while constructing This decision making

and analyzing video in the classroom.

process is guided by intuition, and analysis of prior engagement with video. In plain English, cognitive

continuum theory (CCT) (Dunwoody et al., 2000) is a general comfort level that the students and the teacher have when working with video in the classroom. If the goal is

successful use, then the teacher should view the

The Audience is Watching 8 integration and perspicacity as a growing process over semesters, or years.

Digital Natives in the classroom One of the easiest guides to navigate the multifaceted theoretical angles that occur when embedding video in the classroom is the text by Richard Beach and Jamie Myers, Inquiry-based English instruction: Engaging students in life and literature. In the text, the authors outlined six

“recursive inquiry strategies” (Beach & Myers, 2001) that they used to frame the work that students engage in while working with multimedia: Immersing, Identifying, Contextualizing, Representing, Critiquing and Transforming. The strategies scaffold an investigation of the current media climate, and provide students with an opportunity to manipulate, and then create their own meaning within the media. The first of the strategies identified by Beach and Myers involves immersing the students into the current media that is out there surrounding the topic. Students

collect and manipulate images, video, audio clips from the media world and present them together. The Immersing stage

is an introductory one that serves to get the students “feet wet” as to what is available in their current

The Audience is Watching 9 subject, but most importantly, it alerts the student as to what the current semiotic meaning that is in their topic. The second strategy involves identifying contextual patterns or ideas that exist within the lives of the students, and having them manipulate hypermedia to try and express their understanding. This stage/step is very The

important, because it built upon the previous one.

initial step involved compiling the hypermedia sources; this takes it a step further and opens up the students’ eyes to the complexity and pervasive nature of meaning. In the contextualizing stage, the students are required to manipulate the multimedia images they compiled, throughout genres and times, into a new comprehensive environment. Any artifacts can be collected and used

throughout the lessons; it does not have to center on video. The object is to embed the lessons into what is

currently happening in the classroom, not have the work exist in a vacuum. The images, music videos, art images,

and newspaper clippings mulled through over the last two strategies now are added together and the students realize how broad the questions were, in relationship to censorship. The next step in the inquiry strategy presented by Myers and Beach is representing. The previous steps had

The Audience is Watching 10 the students working with the media by Immersing, Identifying and Contextualizing. They are now constructing

a representation of their own identity, in light of what they have identified about society’s beliefs. Throughout

the strategies, it is tremendously helpful to keep the students focused with a central guiding Essential Question, a broad question that can be discussed throughout the unit. The fifth inquiry element involved in the production and analysis of media is critiquing. In this stage

students are asked to examine the semiotic messages, signs, symbols that they have already found. After looking at

what society has determined to be “truth”, how do they fit into the picture? How do the collection of images and what

society has already determined to be the valid, interact with their own feelings or beliefs? The most powerful learning that can occur during this step is that students realize that they are a piece and a product of the social environment. The last section of the inquiry strategies set forth by Beach and Myers is the process of transforming. With

guidance from the teacher, the students at this point were invested in the content. The students have the ability to

determine what their version of the “truth” is that society has determined. More importantly, they began trying to

The Audience is Watching 11 change that version of what is valid.

The audience in your classroom Now that we’ve shown how students are learning, and given several examples of how these tools can be used in the classroom, let’s look at the more pertinent question of how to make it happen in YOUR classroom. All of this

dialogue is fruitless if it does nothing to give the average teacher the impetus and tools to make this learning happen their classroom. In terms of beginning to tackle

that problem, the first thing a teacher can do to ensure success is to be patient and try to leave all fear of failure at the door. There are initial problems that can

arise, and there’s always the occasional glitch that occurs when it shouldn’t. But, even with the fears and roadblocks

that may occur, the learning that will occur between you and your students is very much worth the effort. Working

with different mediums and following guidelines like the one suggested by Myers and Beach helps strengthen the critical thinking skills of your students. These critical

thinking skills will be more important than ever before as they move into a technologically infused, information age. And please keep in mind that you are stepping out of the normal pedagogies that schools have used for a long time.

The Audience is Watching 12 There are good people in every district that embrace new technologies and strive to foster their use in the classroom. Go seek out these people for ideas and support.

There are a couple of issues that need to be discussed with your students, and maybe even parents of students in your building. The first of which is student safety. Your

school administrators, technical supervisors, and parents will all want to be assured that the children will safely be navigating what can be a very unsafe place. Educate

your students about the possible pitfalls that are present online and plan on steering them safely through the Internet. There are several sites that stay on the frontlines of online safety, and do so with the elementary or secondary student in mind. One such site is, which The use of

specifically has a section on cyber-bullying.

video as referenced by the events at Malibu High (Abdullah & Covarrubias, 2007) could be defined as cyber-bullying, or as online aggression. You may find the need to constantly

inform students as to the rights and responsibilities inherent in online communication and expression. Once the issues of online dangers have been discussed with students, and you as the practitioner feel that you have established a level playing field where the students understand how to

The Audience is Watching 13 protect themselves, it’s time to move into digestion and production of video material. As teachers we should find ways to effectively integrate video into our classroom. The overall goal can

be the use of video by the instructor in presenting subject matter to the students, or the creation of multimodal texts by students. In any case, there are five progressive steps

to guide teachers in effectively adding video to their classroom routine (O’Byrne, 2007). The first step is to integrate the video use into a lesson, or a series of lessons that you have already used with students. There is no reason to develop curriculum,

or add lessons to the school year for the sole purpose of adding technology, or video to your classroom. Teachers

who do this successfully find videos that support, or supplement the subject matter they are teaching, and introduce them with the other materials they currently use. The second step is to find videos that support the subject or topic being taught. Online video sharing

resources, such as YouTube and TeacherTube have vast repositories of videos on numerous topics. YouTube, which became the battlefield for the events at Malibu High, has energized and revolutionized video use and dissemination throughout the online environment. As an educator, you can

The Audience is Watching 14 quickly navigate through the videos and pull clips of current events or pieces of cultural significance. The collection on YouTube is almost limitless, but it is also this unbound nature that requires the teacher to be much more vigilant, and use more discretion in choosing what they share with their students. TeacherTube is modeled closely after YouTube, but its videos are all meant for educators and their classrooms. It seems to be a much

safer version, mostly due to the genre of materials they request and store on their site. One of the slickest, most direct forms of video to use is from Channel One: Livewire. Channel One is a news channel that schools can purchase for their buildings, and frequently broadcast the news in the morning while students start their day. The Livewire portion of their website

allows students and teachers to view current events, or browse their extensive directory of news pieces they have produced over the years. The clips are all student They are sometimes based

centered and highly entertaining.

on controversial topics, and always spark great discussion in the classroom.

The Audience is Watching 15

Another great compendium of video, although not free, is For a small membership fee they allow you to stream or download video clips or entire shows from many of the documentaries and shows that are frequently found on The Discovery Channel or TLC. The

collection of videos is ever increasing and is organized very well. It makes it easy to quickly search and download The

a clip that can be used in a lesson with students.

detailed and itemized list of clips makes it a homerun when, as the teacher, you’re trying to highlight a certain piece of text, or an essential concept. Once you have introduced video into your classroom, have your students share video selections of their own. Some teachers trust that their students understand what is

The Audience is Watching 16 acceptable in the classroom, while others provide a list of videos that the students can select from. Have students

examine the online video sharing sites available and compile videos that represent their interpretation of the essential question that guides the lesson. Teachers will

have student select a video from an online resource and demonstrate why they selected the video, and analyze the elements of the video. The easiest way to do this is to have students post their video and comments to a blog suited for classroom use. Have students post responses to classroom

discussions, videos, or other comments by other students on their blog. Some teachers give students the option to

respond using a journal to help allay any fears about writing online. The blog gives the students the ability to Using a rubric

respond multimodally to class discussions.

with the students while analyzing video on their blogs helps students remain focused.

Score 1 2 3 4

Blogged? Used pen & paper Used a blogging program Used a blogging program Used a blogging program

Answered ?’s Partially answered prompts Answered prompts in a basic sense Answered prompts completely Answered prompts fully, draws parallels to Huck Finn

Multimodal? Just text, not very much text Text, at least 100 words Text, and pictures/video Text, audio, pictures/video

The Audience is Watching 17 Once the students are accustomed to the cycle of analyzing and responding to video, the third step in working with video in the classroom (O’Byrne, 2007) involves what Myers and Beach would consider representing or even transforming multimodal texts. Have the students

manipulate the videos they have compiled from online sources. Most computer operating systems come with video

editing programs such as iMovie, or Windows Movie Maker. Have students create “mash-ups”, or shoddy mixes and combinations of video pieces that create new works from the original pieces. Using pre-existing video will give the

teacher and the students time to work with video editing programs, and critically examine the elements present in video. The last step in effectively embedding video into the classroom (O’Byrne, 2007) would be to create video. capture and edit your own video versions of text. Plan, Have

your students take on the roles of Director, Writers, Talent, and Production Assistants. The role of the teacher

is to act as Producer, and deal with any severe problems, such as explaining to the Principal why your students are running around with a video camera. The taped and edited

videos can then be saved for future use by students, or uploaded to classroom blogs and shared in online spaces.

The Audience is Watching 18 There are numerous sites and venues online that are ready to assist teachers and students that are interested in effectively embedding video into their classroom. The

chart below offers spaces online that offer support, help, and ideas to teachers. There are also several videos

listed to give educators some ideas about what can be done by students in an average classroom. Video in the classroom resources
Keith Mack’s website Matthew Needleman’s website Hotlist on digital video editing

Examples of student projects online
Effective, collaborative video created by fourth and eighth grade students. Incredible award winning video created by first grade students. Public service announcement produced by fifth graders. Well-produced video by middle

The Audience is Watching 19
school students, using photos collected during project.

Where we left Mr. Clark Mr. Clark stepped back into classroom determined to never have that embarrassment happen to him again. As a

good teacher, he decided to let administration take their course in disciplining the children, and hoped that the children would learn from their actions. But as time

passed, Joe Clark was more and more intrigued by the work done by the student. The student had planned out, and As much as

produced a cunning work of social commentary.

Mr. Clark hated to admit it, the student did a very good job. In class, the student was very bright, and did the

majority of the work assigned, but nothing up to this level. Mr. Clark was determined to learn more about video use, and see if he could make it work in his classroom. He taught high school English, and knew his subject very well. He noticed some of the same skills need in literacy, Mr.

were present in video consumption and production. Clark used the tools and skills available to him by

integrating video into his classroom, and deepened the level of critical analysis that occurred in his classroom.

The Audience is Watching 20

References Abdollah, T. & Covarrubias, A. (2007, February 8). Extracurricular videos roil campus: Malibu High students secretly tape unguarded moments for YouTube. The Los Angeles Times, Retrieved September 1, 2007 from

Beach, R., & Myers, J. (2001). Inquiry-based English instruction: Engaging students in literature and life. New York: Teachers College Press.

Bleha, T. (2005), "Down to the Wire," Foreign Affairs, May/June.

Borzekowski, D., Fobil, J., & Asante, K. (2006). Online access by adolescents in Accra: Ghanaian teens’ use of the Internet for health information. Developmental Psychology, 42, 450 – 458. Retrieved December 1, 2007, 51 from

The Audience is Watching 21

Coiro, J., Knobel, M. & Lankshear, C. & Leu, D.J. Jr. (in press). Handbook of Research on New Literacies. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

de Argaez, E. (2006). Internet world stats: Usage and population statistics. Retrieved on December 1, 2007 from

Dunwoody, P., Haarbauer, E., Mahan, R., Marino, C. & Tang, C. (2000) Cognitive Adaptation and its Consequences: A Test of Cognitive Continuum Theory. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 13, pp. 35-54.

Hull, G. & Schultz, K. (2001) Literacy and learning out of school: A review of theory and research. Educational Research, 71.4, pp. 575-611. Review of

International Reading Association. (2002). Integrating literacy and technology in the curriculum: A position statement. Retrieved April 22, 2005, from nology.pdf

The Audience is Watching 22

Labbo, L. D., & Reinking, D. (1999). Negotiating the multiple realities of technology in literacy research and instruction. Reading Research Quarterly, 34, 478492.

Lemke, J. (2005), Towards Critical Multimedia Literacy: Technology, Research, and Politics, in: McKenna, M., Reinking, D., Labbo, L. & Kieffer, R. Erlbaum (2005), Handbook of Literacy & Technology, LEA Publishing.

Leu, D.J. Jr., Coiro, J., Castek, J., Hartman, D., Henry, L., Reinking, D. Research on Instruction and Assessment in the New Literacies of Online Reading Comprehension. To appear in: Cathy Collins Block, Sherri Parris, & Peter Afflerbach (Eds.). Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices. New York: Guilford Press.

Livingstone, S., & Bober, M. (2005). UK children go online: Final report of key project findings. Project Report. London: London School of Economics and Political Science.

The Audience is Watching 23 Kress, G. (1988). Social Semiotics. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.

O’Byrne, W. I.

(2007, November). The Audience is Watching:

Effectively using video in your classroom and in online spaces. Roundtable paper presented at the conference of the National Council for the Teachers of English, New York City.

Roberts, D. F., Foehr, U. G., & Rideout, V. (2005). Generation M: Media in the lives of 8–18 year-olds. Washington, DC: Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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