Vine is a video sharing service where users can upload, edit and share a 6 second clip of looping video. Even with such a short length of video playback to work with, Vine hosts some pretty compelling and engaging loops of video. The concept of the short video is not limited to Vine, as Instagram also provides creative videographers the opportunity to post and share up to 15 seconds of video. In November 2014, Ocho was launched as another social networking platform allowing users to share video clips of 8 seconds. 15sectech is a web-based technology show (hosted by Amber MacArthur, Jeff MacArthur and Lara Killian) offering technology tips, reviews and news within an episode running time of (you guessed it) 15 seconds.
The question for me, does the short video format have any value for education and student learning? What can you say, describe or explain in 15 seconds? 8 seconds? 6 seconds? After spending some time on Vine, Instagram and 15sectech, it would seem that you can convey quite a bit of information. These short video platforms host a variety of engaging and innovative scenes and demonstrations lasting mere seconds. Will the creation and sharing of these condensed forms of video work in the classroom?
Well here is my first attempt.
I picked a concept from our Grade 9 science curriculum within the biology unit that specifically deals with ecosystems. The term I picked out was biomagnification and my task was to create a Vine video that explained this concept. I anticipated that the task itself was pretty straightforward. After all, how long could it take to create a 6 second video?
I quickly found out that creating a short, compressed and comprehensive video takes a lot longer than I thought.
It wasn’t enough to find and recite a definition of biomagnification from a text book or website because I had to create an explanation that accurately described and defined the term within my 6 second timeframe. I realized that I also had to figure out what I was going to show during this 6 second video. Simply posting a screen shot of a chart or diagram was not going to work because the viewer did not have enough viewing time to explore the visual themselves. Much like my script, the visual component of my video needed to be concise and explicit. Ultimately, I had to cram in as much information as possible into this video and it would require a careful combination of what I was saying and showing during my 6 second clip.
My finished product is not going to rock the educational world by any means but what was remarkable for me was the amount of research and thought that went into this single video. The short running time forced me to identify the critical components and information that needed to be conveyed around the term, biomagnification. Wording of the definition had to be carefully selected and the decision to create an animation provided me the best way to illustrate this concept. Add to the mix that there was this heightened incentive to get it right because this video would be posted for the world to see.
Reflecting on my finished product, this experience raises new questions for me if I were to try this again. What did I learn about biomagnification? Was my explanation complete? What could I have done differently? Does it move too quickly? Does the looping format of Vine help the viewer understand the content by giving them a second, third or fourth chance to see the video? What would be an appropriate follow up video?
Adding to the conversation around the use of Vine to support classroom learning, I can appreciate that the educational value is in the process of creating a short video. I would definitely recommend educators to try this for themselves and see if the creation of short-length videos has potential in your respective classroom. Give it a try!
– Kenji Takahashi