Mr.V’s Two Cents: You can read a brief description of my views regarding copyright protections here.
Mr.V’ Class Trials: There was a long period of time during my early to middle years of my career where I would avoid using video or films in class. A major reason for my distaste of this medium was the technical barriers to a smooth integration into the lesson.
‘Barriers’ you say? YES! My early teaching years witnessed the development and use of plastic film strips, reel-to-reel projectors, VHS tapes, audio cassette tapes, and mechanical slide projectors. It was so bad that the introduction of the overhead projector within the middle years was viewed as cutting-age, almost space-age, technology. Yes, the technology has changed, but the fundamentals of planning and delivery of lesson content within 42 minutes has not. Nearly all of these devices were used by me and all suffered from catastrophic failure when put under stress.
‘Stress’ you say? YES! Here you have a person trying to incorporate all the elements of a well-organized lesson within the time allotted. To spice up this academic performance I would incorporate a few slides- BAM! The slides get jammed. How about a reel-to-reel film? BAM! The strip pops off the threader and now I have a mound of plastic spaghetti on the floor. How about a National Geographic VHS tape? BAM! The constant rewinding of the tape to the exact 10 minute segment I wanted to show entangles the tape among the VCR player’s gears. The VCR innards are now carefully preserved in a layer of brown plastic.
Then comes the 1990s and a digital revolution. Many of the old hardware issues disappear. Increasingly powerful computers, digitization of content from analogue to digital formats, and an increase in my salary (so I can buy all this new stuff) liberates me in the classroom. Video and audio are no longer shunned.
I would invest my own cash in purchasing CDs and DVDs to use in class. While the old problems disappeared, a few new ones popped up. Again, choosing and selecting the exact segment of the media to play for my students was taking too much time. Even the scene selections within DVDs wasn’t meeting my demands for efficiency and expediency. Technology advanced further and software, like Handbrake, was developed. I had found a solution to the issue.
Handbrake, and software within that category, allow users to copy the digital content found on DVDs. Through customizations within the software (see an image of Handbrake’s dashboard below), that content can now be played on a computer and/ or digital media player. I then edit the content using a digital audio (Audacity) or digital video (iMovie, Movie Maker) program.
In class, I now have the exact audio/ video segment I want to use and I present it using a projector, PC, and over the last 18 months, with my iPad. All this and a diminished probability of hardware failure!? Life is good!