Yesterday, I got permission from my principal to purchase a Flip video camera to decide if it would be useful in supporting our school's educational technology goals. I picked one up last night and I got a chance to figure it out after school today. A couple of my students were in the after school program and asked me if we could make a video. We had fun going around the school filming little video clips on the camera. My students wanted to convince our principal that we should own a number of these cameras because they are "cool" and would be a lot of fun to use. We made our little video in French but I think anyone would enjoy this video because it is short and pretty cute. You can tell that the students love to perform in front of the camera! Here it is:
I played around with the 6 video clips we shot and made them into this video. This was more challenging than I thought it would be since I wanted to use my computer's own editing software and the video clips were encrypted with "flip settings" that wouldn't let me use the clips in the software. I tried at first on my MacBook and gave up as it was getting to be close to 6:00 and realized I needed to update the Flip software on my Mac to make it work with iMovie. I decided to see what it would do on a PC and was able to make this little movie using Movie Maker.
The Flip is a plug and play type gadget so it comes loaded with its own program that starts to run when you plug it in. It is as easy to operate as any basic digital still camera. You can edit a pretty straight forward video using their video maker program that basically strings your selected clips into a movie. This is all that you need to make simple movies which is what most school assignments at this level involving video would require. I think that the best use of this camera will be capturing video and putting it on our website or class blog right away or even saving it to a computers for future reference. Most videos do not need to be "Hollywood" type complex productions that you are capable of making in iMovie and Movie Maker. The simplicity of the camera is what is nice about it.
I think that sometimes using full software programs that offer the "full-meal deal" are overkill for grades 3-8 and distract students with all the "snazzy" options available like transitions and video effects. I would think that a teacher who wants their students to create a more elaborate video with editing and all the bells and whistles should stick to the more traditional type of digital video camera.
All, in all, I think that this is a very useful classroom tool. I hope we will be able to purchase more of them in the near future. My experience today with my students demonstrated that any integration of technology, no matter how small, can make them excited to learn and do new things.