Thursday, February 13, 2014

Be Like Spielberg with WeVideo

Today's blogger is Matt Miller, a high school Spanish teacher from Turkey Run High School in Marshall, Ind.

We might have more in common with Steven Spielberg or Pedro Almodóvar than you might think.

These highly talented movie makers have filmed immensely creative cinematic works and have been paid very handsomely to do so.

OK, not the part we have in common.

Thanks to WeVideo, we also can create impressive video projects and share them with others in hopes of making an impact -- or at least creating some smiles.

WeVideo is a free service that allows users to pull video, music, voice, images, text and more together online and export their projects to several popular hosting services. Seeing that video creation is an instantly engaging medium to many students and the price is right, WeVideo has plenty of potential in the classroom.

About WeVideo

After logging in via Facebook, Google, Yahoo! or a WeVideo username, you're taken to a dashboard where you can create your first video. Upon clicking "Create new video," WeVideo gives you a choice of the interface for creating your video. There are three options that customize the experience to your video creation experience:
  • Storyboard: Very basic interface that simplifies the creation process to a few choices and a single layer of visuals (images and video)
  • Timeline (simple): More advanced interface with several possible layers of media
  • Timeline (advanced): Most advanced interface with dedicated video, audio and music channels that can be locked or "soloed"

WeVideo's advanced timeline interface (above) gives users plenty of options.
Creating video projects is as simple as uploading the media you want to use and dragging and dropping it into your creation. Color, audio and visual effects can be altered in video clips. A ton of transitions, from simple standard ones to the more unique like "ornamental form" and "paper airplanes" are available. Themes use a set of similar transitions, effects and styles throughout the entire project to give your video a specific look.

When finished with their projects, users can export videos to WeVideo, YouTube, Vimeo, Dropbox or Google Drive for playback and further use.

Students don't have to work alone on their projects. They can connect their videos to other WeVideo users for group collaboration.

WeVideo's free plan includes 15 minutes export time per month (i.e. users can turn up to 15 minutes of video into a video file for use in other places), more than 5 GB of storage space and a required WeVideo watermark on all videos. The personal plan upgrades users to 1 hour of export time, 10 GB of storage space and no watermark for $36 a year or $4.99 a month.

Plans for schools cost $149 per semester or $249 per year to provide access for up to 50 students. WeVideo restricts access of student work for privacy and safety.

WeVideo also includes a free mobile video editor app available for Android and iOS devices.

Here's a Tech Tuesday Screencast video I created for my blog, Ditch That Textbook, that walks you through WeVideo:

Using WeVideo in schools

Because WeVideo's interface can be very simple (storyboard mode) or advanced (timeline mode), it can be used by students with varying ages and ability levels. Here are some ideas:

  • Recreate a historic speech or moment in history for a social studies class (using visual effects to make the video look dated)
  • Display the work and results of a science lab project from beginning to end, from hypothesis to conclusion (adding images of lab data in the WeVideo project)
  • Write and record poetry or short stories that illustrate literary elements learned in an English class (including Creative Commons or public domain music that matches the mood of the written work)
  • Bring story problems to life or record a white board explanation of a math problem (using subtitles to further explain concepts in the problem)
  • Create a conversation, explanation or skit in another language for a foreign language class
  • Show off skills learned in a physical education lesson or impart wisdom for a healthy lifestyle for a health class
  • Give cooking demonstrations or child development presentations for family and consumer science classes
  • Record video presentations to take agriculture classes outside the school's walls, giving demonstrations of live animals, crops or anything ag-related on a family farm
  • Display the great service projects or school spirit events that extra-curricular activities are engaging in
  • Remind parents and students of crucial college preparedness topics through the guidance office
  • Make connections with students and the community from the principal's office with a regular video podcast
  • Create a personal narrative connected to virtually any class like the example in the video below:

After having helped students work with WeVideo for class projects, I've seen that it's a good idea to leave plenty of time for them to learn how it works and work through problems. Although WeVideo works pretty smoothly, any site that students are learning for the first time can bring up hurdles that need to be cleared.

Your challenge

WeVideo is so simple to jump into. Create a new video project about yourself, your family or something you're interested in. Start with video clips and continue to add new pieces to your project: images, music, voice-overs, transitions, text, etc. If you enjoyed it, think of how much your students will love it!

You can follow Matt on Twitter (@jmattmiller); follow his blog, Ditch That Textbook, on Facebook here; follow him on Google Plus here; and check out his YouTube channel here.

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