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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Reexamining Digital Filmmaking Literacies: They May Just Get You In to College

Have You Recorded Your College Admissions Video yet?
Thank you to my friend, Andrew Pass, for sharing this article in Newsweek about how some students are being asked to create videos for college admissions instead of essays.  In their article, Applying to College on Youtube, Newsweek says:

"These aren’t your typical college applications, but the newest way admissions teams are encouraging students to showcase their talents. As a supplement to the regular forms, schools like George Mason University, outside Washington, D.C., Tufts University, outside Boston, and the College of William & Mary, in Virginia, are giving students the option to stray from the traditional essay and advertise their best qualities on YouTube. “Say something about you,” reads the Tufts application. “Anything goes,” prompts William & Mary. The bottom line? It’s a welcome break from the norm. “Kids feel so much pressure when applying to college today that a lot of them are scared to death to just be themselves,” says Kevin McMullin, the president of Collegewise, a private-counseling company. YouTube “coaxes kids to relax—and maybe even have a little fun.”"

A Case Study in YouTube Shaping the Future of a Student
Many students (including mine) now have full websites and a portfolio of videos representing their work. Many of the opportunities for my students have happened through video, most notably, Virginia, a student of mine who created a video in ninth grade that led to a film crew from George Lucas' Edutopia coming on campus, and then a featureette in Edutopia Editor Milton Chen's new book, Education Nation.

Virginia's Youtube Video

It all started with a Youtube video in ninth grade. Videos are the new essay. No doubt, this is a pivotal point in Virginia's life.

Do Essays Go Viral?

In older times it was words that went viral - the pamphlets that were printed. Now, video servers can pump out video streams faster than a printing press could ever zip out paper. How many essays have you heard of that have gone viral in the last month?

Sure, blog posts seem to go viral, but not quite at the volume of videos on Youtube.

Videos Are Game Changers
The game changers are videos both in society and in the lives of our children. Learning how to effectively craft a digital story is not just a twenty first century literacy, but instead one of the keys to the future success and prosperity of those who embrace and understand that telling a digital story is different from writing essays and even blogging, it is an art form.

This is only the beginning, but for those who start this race early, there are many awards awaiting.

Don't Drop the Essay
Don't think that this is a matter of essay OR video. Or even essay or blog or video.  Really, we're at the point of essay, blog, podcast, video, wiki, and so many forms of digital literacies that we need all of them - not just one. Fundamentally, a child who can speak and read and write is prepared to learn to create video. However, just being ready isn't enough.

Getting Ready for More Digital Stories
For now, I'm totally pumped about the largest Flat Classroom project ever - a whopping 651 students on two wikis researching and creating videos.  For those who might wonder "where Vicki's been" it is there amidst the bits and bytes of Flat Classroom working to make it ready for the students and teachers to collaborate.

More digital stories waiting to be told and crafted. Oh, to get better at teaching this amazing, exciting art!

What are you doing to teach digital stories? Please share.

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