Many of my students come into my multimedia pedagogy courses ready to create a web site. And the first question I ask them is “why do you think a web site is the way to go?” And very few have an answer beyond some version of “all the kewl kids are doing it.”
Website can certainly be rich multimedia learning artifacts. However, instructors need consider:
- are there any existing web resources that already cover this topic
- how long it will take to build the site
- what access to the Web will my classroom have
- how well does this platform bring something special into my class
About 75% of the time, the website idea is canned. Instead, many instructors find creating their own video is a better fit. Certainly the advent of user-friendly video editing software has made creating rich, educationally relevant video artifacts easier.
Most Macintosh and Windows personal computers come with free video editing software either bundled (already installed) or available on a disc or via download. Apple’s iMovie set the gold standard for end-user friendly video editing, but Windows Movie Maker has almost the same functionality. Their features include:
- Simple video importing
- Drag and drop sequencing of clips
- Straightforward cropping and splitting of clips
- A range of transitions and video effects
- Ability to add audio, including music
- export as files suitable for DVD authoring, web streaming, and personal multimedia devices like the iPhone, iPod, and PSP
So if you have a computer–one with a large (120GB at least; 200GB+ is better) hard drive, you can get into creating video rather quickly.
Hardware: not so free
What can make creating video expensive is the equipment to capture high quality video. You can now get a high quality, feature-loaded digital video camera for $300 or less. Cameras that have a microphone port (so you can use an external microphone) are worth paying a few more $$ for.
I recommend buying one that uses Mini-DV cassettes: hard drive cameras compress the video capture, making it of a lesser quality. And cassettes can be stored if you want to keep archives of your raw video: hard drive cameras have to be emptied out. Mini-DV is one of the rare instances where a 20 year old technology still trumps much of what’s come on market since.
A good tripod is also a must: steady camera=steady video. You can buy a full size collapsible tripod for around $50 if you shop around. Get one that can sit on a table top or on its own.
Most cameras have a built-in, good quality microphone, which will serve your purposes most of the time. But buying a lavallier microphone (that pins to a shirt or lapel) can help when it’s windy or there’s a lot of background noise. When you buy the microphone also buy a nice long extension cable for it–the longer (10m? 30m?) the better.
Lighting is also very important, but you can creatively use regular lamps (halogen, compact fluorescent, bog standard old skool bulbs) to get a nice lighting effect.
And if your computer’s hard drive is small or full, you can use an external USB or Firewire hard drive to store and edit video.