Students and informal learning

I had the opportunity a couple of years ago to contribute to an ISTE book, Teaching with Digital Video, an effort put together by Glen Bull and Lynn Bell. One of the chapters I helped write discussed student-created video in informal learning environments. The premise of this chapter is that rich, deep learning can (and do) take place in settings other than school and without a teacher's direction. I was able to provide a few examples of such learning in the chapter.

Along these lines, I have been working with a News Media club at a private K-8 school, and one of the things the students wanted to learn was how to edit video and use a green screen. The school just happened to have recently invested in a green screen and video editing software, so the conditions were perfect for trying out the new equipment.

Because this is a club, rather than a core class, combined with the fact that the students are all new to video editing, I decided to start with something small and simple, which in this case was Charades. I told the students which scenario to act out, and we filmed them performing in front of the green screen. After each student had a chance to participate (twice!), we went to the computer lab and did some simple editing. You can click on the link below to see the result of our efforts, a simple 1-minute video:

The thing that excites me about this experience is not the technology, but the students' response to the activity. I had students stopping me in the hall later that day asking me when we were going to use the green screen again. I could tell their ideas and creativity were flowing. Green screen is cool, but students who are excited about being creative and taking ownership of their own learning is even cooler.