Web video for the classroom

There are two things that I have noticed when using web video in the classroom. The first and most pertinent is pupils asking me to enlarge the player to full-screen. When using media players such as Windows Media Player or Real Player this is fairly simple. The complication comes with embedded flash video. In a Year 11 Citizenship class examining the issues of debt and aid, I used video from the Make Poverty History website. The problem was that the videos could not be enlarged. This left some of the less enthusiastic members of the class fairly disgruntled.

The solution:

  • use a video player that has the functionality to enlarge to full-screen (the best I can find is Jeroen Wijering’s excellent flv player)
  • ask your school IT department to upgrade to Flash version 9 (this will mean that the enlarge function will work)
  • produce video using the .flv format, which will ‘stretch’ without the image becoming too blocky

The second issue is the 10-20 seconds gap between pressing play and the video starting. This is enough time for young minds to wander or assume that their teacher is a technological incompetent (I still hold that by some quirk, teachers’ ability to function a DVD/Video player has a strong inverse correlation with their length of time in the classroom). This is a mistake that we made (as with the one above) on the Offscreen Student Expedition, by having a black screen and a boring pre-loader (the small animation that shows as the video gets ready to play).

The solution:

  • have an still image rather than a black screen before the video plays
  • think about having some interesting animation going on so that pupils know that something is about to happen (nothing too extravagant)
  • or maybe use some attention grabbing optical illusion that will keep their attention (if you stare at the dot below for long enough the grey haze recedes)

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