Friday, August 05, 2011

Guest Blog - The Logical Progression Video: An Appealing Option for Educators

The following was submitted by Lindsey Wright

The Logical Progression Video: An Appealing Option for Educators

The creation of a logical progression video is a worthwhile project for any classroom from elementary school to online college classes. These interactive videos are the modern technology-based version of the "choose your own adventure" books, in which readers choose how the story continues from a selection of plot twists and turns. Possible applications to career skills and curriculum abound with this clever and intriguing technology. Logical progression videos uniquely engage students in the creative use of technology, decision-making, and curriculum.

Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington recently proved that logical progression videos can effectively capture the interest of student viewers. As noted in The Chronicle of Higher Education, the university posted an interactive video to its "Whitworth University Class of 2015" Facebook page.

To keep accepted incoming students interested in the university over the summer, Whitworth University posted the first video in "The Quest for the Golden Pine Cone" on June 30. Viewer interest grew as the school's mascot, the Whitworth Pirate, searched the campus for the golden pine cone and made some interesting discoveries along the way. The end of the video revealed that the pirate's next move depended on Facebook viewers' votes.

The interactive film seems to have been successful in drawing in a large number of viewers. The Facebook page's membership has increased 39% in the single month since the video's posting. The interactive video generated more than enough interest to accomplish the school's goal of retaining incoming students.

Logical progression videos have engagement value with viewers because they allow them to make an impact on the storyline. At regular intervals, the film presents the audience with several options on how the plot should continue. The Harvard Learning Objects Lab has found that the logical progression video is an effective tool "to help students interact with the learning material, give feedback, value or get excited about featured content, identify or differentiate between information resources, strategize approaches to research (such as critical evaluation, etc.), among other things."

Interactive films are also genuinely cost-effective. Students may record the short videos with a digital camera and then post them to the internet via YouTube. YouTube provides a free venue for the creation of "choose your own adventure" videos, which are connected by inserting hyperlinks to several other YouTube videos into the first. Richard Byrne walks educators through three simple steps to linking YouTube videos on his website Free Tech For Teachers.

Interactive videos allow for extreme flexibility in curriculum and student participation. Teachers can use the videos to explore any subject matter imaginable. They may create a math problem-solving quest, a twisting literary plot, a hunt for scientific elements or historical artifacts, or a review of ethical situations. They can also use the films to engage students in the dramatic and technical aspects of the films' creation. Students may take on the roles of scriptwriters, actors, cameramen, film editors, and YouTube uploaders, as well as joining the film's eventual audience.

Logical progression videos also have the potential to draw on many useful problem-solving skills. The video's creation requires student creativity and critical thinking. Students must carefully map several paths through the video to each possible outcome. They gain an understanding of the logical paths of cause and effect while they work. The interactive medium allows students to watch their own creation take unexpected paths and then make adjustments to the storyline as needed. As the film's creators, rather than merely its viewers, students become much more closely involved with the project.

Whatever subject the interactive videos are meant to teach, they have the added benefit of integrating the subject matter with important career skills. Students can learn to create and refine a product, employ logical reasoning, and use technology for a creative project. They gain experience in these real-world skills while also reinforcing the subject matter through the repeated viewing and editing of the film.

It's important to stage an interactive video project in a way that allows it to make its full impact on students. Here are some guidelines from The Harvard Learning Objects Lab for creating the most effective "choose-your-own-adventure movie" possible:
  • It is customized to suit the needs and interests of a very specific audience.
  • It will be viewed in a classroom setting with clickers for voting on the next scene.
  • Novelty and active engagement is paramount.
  • Necessary details can be conveyed concisely.
  • People/actors will be featured.
  • The entertainment value of your content will balance nicely with its educational value.
  • Content will be delivered through storytelling or a problem solving scenario.
  • Information presented cannot be clearly or meaningfully conveyed with simple still images and text.
Logical progression videos are an appealing option for getting students engaged in the curriculum and involved in an exciting creative process at the same time. Teachers can adapt the project to virtually any curriculum and allow students to participate in the creative process at a level appropriate for their grade. Involvement in the film's creation provides students with added experience in career skills and critical thinking. Overall, the educational benefits of logical progression videos are well worth the class time and energy put into them.   

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