August 25, 2005

Home Movie Workshop Observations

I completed 2 days of training with a small group of teachers from various parts of the province. The title of the workshop was “Home Movies Everyone Wants to Watch”. In essence it was a basic introduction to video editing using Windows Movie Maker.

While I am working towards removing the software aspect of workshops, many teachers still want to learn software basics. While I hope the participants did some learning, I learned many things as well. Here’s a few things I observed, learned and rediscovered during the two days:

  1. Personal connection with learning is critical. This is something I’ve been advocating for many years. Most of my learning comes from things I’ve done personally. My own growth in video came mostly from doing family projects. These teachers were using their own family footage and were beginning to talk about ways to use this more in the classroom.
  2. Teachers are more focused on content than on technical issues. I’m not sure how much of this is related to better software and hardware and how much is related to teachers more comfortable with technology but after doing this type of workshop a number of times in the past 5 years, this was by far the one where the focus was on telling a good story and not using every transition and special effect possible. The participants were not “wowed” by the technology but were set on being able to tell stories effectively in the digital media.
  3. Learners need to set the agenda. Each of the parictipants had a very different project in mind. One wanted to create a DVD of a family reunion using only still pictures, another wanted to digitize some old VHS tapes, another wanted to learn how to use her new digital camcorder and another wanted to create a video for the opening of school using footage she had taken in June. I had some pre-planned projects and ideas but was able to adjust the workshop so everyone got what they wanted. This isn’t always possible but is infinitely more effective when it is.
  4. Not all schools are even at a basic level of technology use. I don’t use Windows Movie Maker for my editing but use it with schools because every Windows XP machine comes installed with it. Two teachers informed me they didn’t have any computers in their schools with XP and had Windows 3.1 until two years ago. Yikes! They said that the principal at the school was more interested in re-decorating her office that in any technology. This is a travesty for students and teachers. I’m hoping this is a rare case but sometimes I wonder.