|Click the picture above to start the movie. Give it some time to start downloading and then click the play triangle. Clips courtesy of Adobe's Premiere tutorial. What classroom teaching ideas might be as outrageous?||Click WWCU 90.5 FM Radio Station for two live webcam shots of the classroom and the WCU 90.5 FM studio, which can be run on automatic from their computer's had drive. Click one of the Listen Live links for our campus radio station live. A model audio station for your classroom?|
What once seems beyond reach, even outrageous,
becomes understood and do-able as others show the way.
A quick definition of literacy is the capacity to understand and create what goes on a page. For centuries those pages have increasingly been made of paper. Then, just since 1994 and the commercialization of the Internet, the Web brought an explosion of communication built on a new concept of a page, a web page which can contain all forms of media, not just text and image. How should the changing nature of thought and composition change education in a culture increasingly driven by digital communication?
The image on the left reflects the array of choices for composing on paper, skills and concepts that have been around for thousands of years. Through this time we have learned that more effective reading requires more effective writing composition and vice versa. If knowledge is the coin, reading and writing are its two sides.
How do we apply that basic understanding in an increasingly digital and globally networked world of information? The image on the right shows the major choices for literacy in the 21st century. In prior chapters, the growth of digital information challenged educators to expand their reading instruction by seeing that teaching and learning should include, as much as possible, the new digital forms from electronic slideshows to spreadsheets and digital still images and more. This chapter flips the coin over and accents more of where language arts education must go to make its instruction in composition with text (writing) instruction more relevant to the digital age. That is, improving the learners' ability to read the wide range of digital information better will also require the ability to "write" or compose using the wide range of digital skills of the Digital Palette. This full range of digital information could be called comprehensive composition. To many, the conceptual challenge in this transition from the cellulose (paper) palette to the digital palette is as great as the resource and skill challenge. Among the many options on the digital palette, digital video has become the poster child for the value of moving beyond text to include the rich range of digital communication. The web site youtube.com is perhaps its most visible publication center. Which of the digital options for composition on this palette has done the most to drive change in the nature of composition? Certainly no media has achieved greater cultural impact in the last fifty years than television and film. Motion pictures, video for short, and the value of video literacy is the focus of this chapter.
Digital convergence is the concept that as forms of communication, calculation and composition become digital they share a common standard. This standard allows them to be merged or synthesized into higher level forms and designs. The emergence of the all digital World Wide Web, with its digital standards for multimedia, has transformed and expanded what composition will mean in the 21st century. The web is converting the word multimedia (many different media) into uni-media, a single standard for the integration of all media. In this chapter, the term comprehensive composition will also be used to refer to this web-based digital integration of all the major forms of media now commonly used in our culture. Comprehensive composition can integrate in one web page or several, these elements: text, still images, audio/music, video, animation, virtual reality, electronic sensors and remote control and computer programming. Future new technologies may add to this list. All of these forms are already commonly found in some degree of mix in web pages all across the Internet. Though this chapter focuses on just the "headliner act" of cyberspace, video composition, video itself is a medley of text, movie, sound and still image media. Other chapters provide more detail about these other forms of digital media.
Desktop publishing addressed in chapter five, is a technology that integrates text and still images on the same display page. Webtop publishing, e.g., web page servers, takes us far beyond just the photograph and graphics. Cyberspace takes world culture to a new and much more powerful level of personal composition. It is my sense of things that this development is as big and as important as the jump from an oral culture to a literate culture was a few thousand years ago. As this latest jump into global distribution of comprehensive composition has only been possible since about 1994, many culural adjustments are still being made.
Often we use the term multimedia to stand for this integration of media,
but other synonyms can be found as well: linking, multimodal literacy, compound documents, and
media integration. Multimedia is a topic heading at every grade level in
the North Carolina Computer Literacy requirements. Too often though, multimedia
or media literacy, has been about one side of the coin of understanding, the reading, use and critique of the work of others,
not about empowering students, teachers and other learners to create and
compose with new media. Whatever term we use, comprehensive composition's
long term impact on composition, curriculum and schools will be profound.
As text publishing on the web moves rapidly to include video as a standard component, how will this impact the nature of writing and other language arts activities in the schools? The answer has not yet arrived. It may be that the newest teachers joining the professional ranks will have the most to say about about this emerging idea. It is time to begin thinking creatively about the future possibilities.
In focusing on video composition, it should be noted that our culture is undergoing one more transition of media technologies. Just as music's use of 33 1/3 records gave way to 45s, then to the digital formats of CDs and now to MP3s, now video is moving from analog to digital formats (DV for digital video) as well. Even television and radio are going digital. The TV industry was required by Federal law to move along a government specified timeline from broadcast of analog video to the all digital high-definition and wide format television model and to complete that change by June 12, 2009, an extension of the February 17, 2009 deadline. (More info can be found at DTVanswers.) Television is not the only form of video display that is changing. The emerging digital standard for video in computers is a now format called MPEG4.
Tutorial activities in the sidebar will require that you use digital video cameras to complete a short (two-minute) video composition project.
Different solutions to video's problem with computer network speed are used individually or in combination. One approach is to send fewer than the standard 30 frames per second, maybe even 1 frame per second or slower. This leads to rather jerky looking web video. Other solutions include reducing screen size and the number of colors that are transmitted. This makes web video less realistic with harder to see details. But that is not the end of story.
Programmers have created different digital video formats that can be run with players with names such as Real, AVI and Quicktime.
Special operating system code must be added or installed on your hard drive to see web or computer-based video. Further, these companies are constantly improving the video display code, so that the video from a web site that works fine one day, may require an updated installation of this system code the next. Fortunately this system video code has been free so far. Also, the web sites generally tell you when updates are required and these updates can be downloaded from the web or found on CDs that contain digital video.
This means that readers of this chapter will find the DV experience much more challenging. If your computer cannot display the web video, it will say so and generally indicate where on the web the updates are located when this happens. However, even if you have the right DV resources in your operating system, the download speed of displaying the video may take so long that you will not want to proceed. If you are using a 56kb modem, expect difficulty with digital video. If there are difficulties with viewing the video, you will have to use a high-speed network more common to corporate, college and university campuses or use the broadband services provided by cable TV, satellite and telephone companies. If you want high speed access at home or in an area business, it will be necessary to step up to broadband service from a cable TV company, the phone company, or a wireless service. Effective satellite broadband service began to appear in 2002, with more competitors planning on entering the market in the months ahead. Broadband services are not yet running at a speed to deliver full-screen video over the Internet at this time, but enormous amounts of money and effort will be spent in the years ahead to make this a reality for nearly every home and business.
Web sites in the sidebar of this chapter will also provide additional examples of the integration of video and other forms of communication. To better understand what works and what doesn't with any form of composition, it is useful to look at the work of other composers.
The quantity of video and audio resources available through the Internet is significant. Many radio stations in the United States now also broadcast through the web as well as from their radio signals from their towers. Nearly every TV network maintains a web site which includes many videoclips from their shows. Even though their pages were free, they often charged a premium for video use. That is rapidly changing to free. Try these sites: CNN.com's video; CBS News video ; or Organic Broadcast Project's video channels. For more instructionally focused video, try searching for video in a content area with something like "free video archive math" or "free video math OR mathematics". But that is just the companies that have always been in this business; they have just added the option of web publishing. Today what is new is that anyone can quickly broadcast video to the globe with a digital camcorder, computer and video editing software and a web account. All versions of the Macintosh and Windows operating systems have shipped with free video editors for many years. Current versions of the Macintosh OS include iMovie, a great and easy to use video editor. The Windows OS comes with Movie Maker, a good video editor that was improved for the Vista version of Windows.
Video and audio do provide one very important feature to the often single computer in a school classroom. Audio and music allow the computer to serve whole class activities much better than text, image or video display. The use of the screen of a single computer for visual needs restricts its use to one student or a small group of students at best. Larger speakers attached to a computer are one of the least expensive items to add to a workstation if greater volume is needed.
Hundreds of new companies and experimenters are exploring what will work in designs and compositions that are only available over the Internet. The web and the Internet are changing many aspects of what you think you know about the use of audio and video. Explore these micro-film and micro-video places on the web. Keep in mind that these are generally designed with adults in mind, therefore do not be shocked by more mature themes than you were expecting; just thoroughly screen all work before its use in the classroom. Developing video for the Internet that meets public school themes generally comes later in the economic cycle. As with all resources intended for instructional use, they should be evaluated completely, beginning with seeing everything that might be used at school. Avoid surprises. At the same time, be on the lookout for video pieces of use to your unit plans and curriculum development goals.
Browsing or "reading" the video work of others is only a tiny part of
empowering teachers to create video to meet their own needs or to teach
this powerful media to their students. Successful video composition requires
ample hands-on experience. In doing the digital video assignment in the
left column under Evoke, the easiest to use of the video editors will be
explored. Tutorials for other more challenging video editors that
take longer to learn are also provided.
Given these many different media formats or elements of comprehensive composition that already inhabit cyberspace communication, what would it look like if they were all integrated into one composition? How many can you find on one web page or even one web site? The mergers of media are underway. Explore these and the links off them to elsewhere on their sites:
How many media elements do you find being run from the campus radio station's or local newspaper web site? Check out the Web sites of your home town's local newspaper, radio station and TV station and answer the same question. Are any of their Web sites using the entire digital literacy palette? Other examples: NC radio stations list; NC newspapers; NC TV stations. The concept of digital convergence would predict that each will eventually include some form of media that the other specializes in along with other forms of media than most are not doing at all. A growing number of them already do so.