Video on the Web: The Basics

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Most likely, your students discovered YouTube a couple of years ago. You and your teacher colleagues probably have too by now--hence those silly video emails saved in your inbox. Did you know that you can use video in schools and libraries to enhance teaching and learning? This article provides an overview of the web video phenomenon: what it is; why it's great for teachers, librarians, and students; what tools you need; and a bit of how-to as well.

WHAT TYPES OF VIDEO ARE ON THE WEB?

A few years ago there wasn't much video on the web. (Remember, YouTube has only been around for 3 years.) Video existed, but it was hard to find and difficult to post. You needed a web developer to post video because of the back-end coding involved. Today's web, however, makes posting video simple, thanks to easy-to-use websites such as YouTube. As a result, there has been an explosion of video on the web. Here's a list of some different types of video currently available:

News video: Have you visited CNN.com recently to watch a news-related video clip? Most newspaper and television news websites have added video to enhance their stories. This type of video consists of traditional news pieces done by professional journalists and "citizen journalism" clips created by people off the street.

Shows: Missed Jay Leno last night? Never fear! You can catch him the next day at NBC.com. Go to Hulu (www.hulu.com), and you can watch a lot of current and past television shows. But you don't have to limit yourself to traditional broadcast shows such as The Tonight Show. There are a growing number of shows created for a web-only audience and released in a web-only format.

Screencasting: Ever want to show a student how to use the library catalog? Screencasting takes video of your computer's screen--mouse movements, clicks, and all--and even overdubs your voice. This gives you the ability to teach people by showing them, even if they aren't in the same room as you.

Machinima: Take your virtual world avatar (i.e., your World of Warcraft or Second Life character), and make a video of the avatar doing nonnormal stuff. For example, a librarian at my library used her World of Warcraft avatar to talk about the library (www.you tube.com/watch?v=qBtGnaMp4u4).

Live video: Ever wanted to strap a video camera to your head and record 24/7? Probably not--but that's what lifecasting is, in a nutshell. There are a growing number of web-based services and tools that let you easily broadcast live. Some of these tools are desktop-based and use the webcam attached to your computer.

You can also take lifecasting one step further and make it mobile. Some cell phones can broadcast live video feeds to a web service such as qik.com.

Video blogging: This is what I do with video. You're probably familiar with a blog--thoughts typed and posted to a website. Video blogging is the same idea, except posts are created with a video camera, and the video is posted to a blog.

HOW DO YOU WATCH VIDEO?

There are many ways to watch and subscribe to videos. This is great, because it allows people to watch videos when they want to and where they want to. They are no longer constrained to a specific day and time.

Most people are probably watching via a computer and a web browser. This is the main way YouTube is consumed by the average viewer. If your students or teacher colleagues are a bit savvier, they might subscribe to their favorite video feeds with a video aggregator such as MeFeedia (www.mefeedia.com; webbased) or iTunes (software-based).

If they have a video iPod, an iPhone, or another portable device capable of holding and playing back video files, they might set their video aggregator to dump video automatically to a video player. This gives the viewer flexibility, since they can take the video with them.

HOW DO YOU CREATE VIDEOS? …