An Educational Must-Have

Every now and again, there’s something that is powerful for use in education, that you must simple have it and add it immediately to your collection.

We know how engaged students can be watching YouTube videos.  This has changed an entire paradigm for thinking about the use of videos and movies in the classroom.  It’s even more powerful when you think that you can access the content anytime, anywhere via computer or by portable device such as an iPhone or iPod.  All that’s required is a network connection.

The challenge is always making the determination between entertainment and educational content.  Not that it’s terribly difficult to do; it’s just difficult to enforce.  Many school districts make the enforcement part very easy.  Just block the site.

What does the progressive educator, wishing to incorporate these technologies into the classroom, do?

The National Film Board offers an incredible alternative.

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Just released this week is an iPhone/iPod player for the content stored at the National Film Board of Canada.  With this application, you’ve got a huge collection of movies entirely suitable for use in education at your fingertips.  My first test to see the value was to take a look at the October Crisis of 1970.  Sure enough, there’s a full documentary of some 87 minutes right there.

Browsing the content, it’s difficult to see any video that wouldn’t be of immediate use in some classroom.

Imagine assigning a video for homework or having access to this resource for immediate research?  We’ve used movies and documentaries in the classroom for years.  However, it’s always been a full classroom activity.  Now, with this application and your portable device, it becomes an immediately differentiable (?) resource for the class.  In my former school’s library, we had a couple of breakout rooms that you could book to preview a movie.  With this application, all you need is a chair and a headset.

The design includes some of the best of breed features that you would expect to find in a video viewing application.  Look for favourites, searching, “nearby”, channels, or even the ability to download the video for later viewing that doesn’t require an internet connection for streaming.

More details are available on the NFB blog.

If you’ve got an iPod or iPhone, this definitely is a “must-have” application.

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