Welcome, and thank you for taking the time to come here! My name is Stevon Roberts, and I began working on educational films in 2003, beginning with Writing Across Borders, a film that explores the significant challenges that international students face when writing for American colleges and universities. The film was important to me, but I never expected that it would go on to win an award and be distributed among hundreds of colleges and other schools throughout the nation. This experience taught me that video can be a powerful communication vector if there is an open niche for a particular message.
Today, there are millions of open niches. Rapid growth in online and hybrid courses, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), and high utilization of OERs (Open Educational Resources) have all led to unprecedented demand for high-quality educational media. Video is a power tool in these educational environments. But as with any power tool, the quality of the product will depend on how effectively the tool is used.
This series serves two functions as a website: it is a guide that I will follow for webinars and workshops (which will be listed at right), but it also can serve as a standalone resource. This goes way beyond showing you how to point a camera or adjust a microphone--you can easily find YouTube videos for those things. Instead, this series will show you how to evaluate, edit, assign, and create media using research-backed pedagogical techniques that have been shown to improve learning.
The Rosetta Stone
Throughout every part of this series design, I've continued referencing the Rosetta Stone, which was the key artifact that helped modern translators to decode ancient Egyptian heiroglyphics. This metaphor appears again in one of my all-time favorite movies, Contact, in which the protagonist makes a powerful discovery in communication technology: "Buried within the message itself is the key to decoding it." What that means for this program is that if you came here looking for PowerPoint lectures, you're going to be disappointed! Every part of this series, even what you've just read, has been carefully arranged to model how you as instructors or communicators might apply video in your own educational contexts. Buried within this message is the key to decoding it and applying it for yourself.
How to Use This Resource
This website is divided into higherarchical topics, including this introduction. The order of the topics describes the relative complexity for application of educational video, beginning with the simplest proficiency (media literacy), and ending with the most complex (filming your own video). People can (and often do) explore these proficiencies out of order, and while it's good to survey all levels, the results can sometimes leave instructors and students feeling frustrated--you may want to emulate Martin Scorcese or Steven Spielberg (and if you do, that's wonderful!), but even if you have that kind of vision, you most likely don't have access to their budgets or their equipment. This program is designed to help you start using video right away, without requiring those higher order proficiencies and expensive gear.
Each topic has various subcomponents, broken apart for ease of recognition and navigability:
- Learning objectives
- A viewing guide or discussion guide
- The media content (or links to media content)
- Followup questions that may provoke further interpretation or reflection
- Assessment questions (to see if the learning objectives for that piece of media were accomplished)