Ask the Grumpies: Video in class

Leah asks:

What is your preferred way to use a video in your class?

#1 says:  I love them, I use them as much as possible, students love them.  I show them whenever I can think of an excuse or find a good video.

#2 says:  I generally only use video in my electives, and generally Daily Show or Colbert Report clips on current events that just happen to fit with a topic we’re discussing.  Occasionally I’ll dig up a Youtube video of an old commercial or something to explain what things were like before they were born.  I tend to use NPR a bit more, either having them listen in class or as a homework assignment that we’ll then discuss in class.  For one of my electives, I have a video of a talk that an architect of an important piece of legislation gave that I just show instead of lecturing because he just does a great job of explaining what and why and what are the problems.  I also have a video on another topic that I play sometimes because it has a nice overview of all the scholarly articles we’ll be reading on the topic.  One year I had my students watch a Michael Moore video for the final exam and use what they’d learned in the class to critique it.

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13 Responses to “Ask the Grumpies: Video in class”

  1. feMOMhist Says:

    post sabbatical I plan to show as many as humanly possible. Students LOVE them.

  2. Clio Bluestocking Says:

    Both the students and I love them. Use depends on the video. The Lincoln museum has a video called something like “The Civil War in 2 minutes” (I confess that I use the bootleg on Youtube) that helps me get through the military side of the war while also drawing in discussion of the politics and social history and its connection to the fighting. The classes have all found it pretty cool. We’ve dissected the historical inaccuracy of Hollywood films, and some help to also understand the history of the time in which the film was released. “The Patriot” is a good target for the former and “Birth of a Nation” and “Dr. Strangelove” are fun for the latter. Clips from “Last of the Mohicans” have helped illustrate the conflicting goals of colonists and the British empire in the American backcountry. I hadn’t thought about commercials, but what a great idea, especially when discussing the ways that advertising co-opted the youth culture or the counterculture. T.V. shows might be good too. Not a lot of students know what I mean when I refer to “I Love Lucy” or “Leave it to Beaver” or even “Little House on the Prairie.” (I know! Can you beleive?)

  3. MutantSupermodel Says:

    Outside of film classes, I’ve never been in a college class that used videos. Wish they would!

  4. femmefrugality Says:

    I would absolutely love it if my teachers showed the Colbert report in class. On the other side, though, as a student, if I know all we’re doing in class is watching a video I’m more likely to order it on Netflix and watch it in my own home than get my butt out of bed and go to class. Probably my worst student offense ever.

  5. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    Videos???? For f*cke’s sake, I think students get enough f(cken passive time in front of screens as it is. Unless your course is on film per se, how about making the classroom a refuge from that shitte?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      As a social scientist I believe it is very important for students to understand how the media represents and misrepresents policy formation and effects. And how many reporters and politicians don’t understand basic social science. Or statistics. Policy does not occur in an academic vacuum.

      • Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

        If the use of videos involves critical analysis like “Hey. Look at how f*cked uppe this shitte these f*ckers are saying in these video clippes and using it to manipulate your thinking in nefarious ways”, then I have no problem with that. Your blogge post made it sound like you were showing videos in your class all like “Hey. Watch this video as it presents to you the substantive content of the course.”

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Huh, I don’t see that. The Daily show really can’t present the substantive content of the course… clips are like at most 10 min long. And I would argue that a lecture from the architect of a huge piece of legislation about said piece of legislation is going to be better than my summary of hir lecture. Students can and should critique hir statements, of course.

      • Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

        I just re-read the post carefully, and yeah, the misunderstanding was on me. I think I just focused on this one sentence to the exclusion of the others:

        I also have a video on another topic that I play sometimes because it has a nice overview of all the scholarly articles we’ll be reading on the topic.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        It is a nice intro. Basically there’s a big question, “What is the cause of X” and there’s a huge literature with a zillion different hypotheses. The video (which I believe is something like 45 min long) covers almost all the different hypotheses and mentions the actual research (interviewing people in the field). Then we spend the next few weeks reading the scholarly articles on said big question and picking them apart. It also has some chilling videos of monkeys that really drive home one of the hypotheses in a way that the major article we read on that hypothesis does not. Poor monkeys.

  6. Leahh Says:

    My question is more along the lines of how you use videos, I guess. Do you just show a whole video for an hour? Or do you break up longer videos over two class periods to allow time for discussion? Do you use worksheets during videos? I haven’t read a lot of literature on this but see a wide spectrum of approaches to videos in teaching.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      #2: I generally show smaller clips (5-10 min) followed by discussion. When I do longer videos, I’ll stop at discussion points. The students can also break in to ask questions or make comments.


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