Screens or Pages

I have always cringed any time a teacher has asked for a video project in school. Taking videos of the things around me is entirely different from having to edit a video into a legitimate concept to present to an audience and it’s something that has always confused and terrified me. That being said, there are definitely some aspects about creating a film that made the goal of relaying my concept much easier than if I had been asked to simply write about it as video offers certain affordances that writing simply does not.

As anyone might guess, the ability to use visual and audio stimuli in videos can greatly enhance the quality of presenting a concept as well as the reception from the audience. When writing out a paper the only images you can use are through the descriptive language you put on the page, requiring the reader to imagine the concept being presented in front of them. This leaves room for all different kinds of interpretation, while when it comes to video, you can very clearly showcase and explain in your own words what you want to get across to the audience. This can be seen in several of the “How To” video’s such as with Alexandra’s “How to build a Cootie Catcher” or Jake and Sara’s “How to tip your waitress”. The simple style of going step by step through the process of the specific “How To” with a voice over explanation in the background really aids in the audience learning how to do what it is they are showing us to do.

There’s also a kind of connection between the creator of the film and the audience in these videos that is less prominent when reading their words on a page. In the videos by Ellie and Ashley, we never actually see the author but we can still hear their voice overlapping the images in front of us, and even though we cannot see them, there is still a part of them present in the film speaking directly to us. As a reader, we can only see the words the writer has left for us and try to decipher their own voice or intonations based off of what we read.

However, for video, there is this sense that it is not universally preferred as a medium for showcasing concepts and many people find it difficult to actually present their ideas this way. I noticed for this project that, despite how it takes less time to absorb the material out of watching a video than taking the time and energy to read a long article on the same material, it took me much longer to create the presentation for it. Certainly all of the Concept in 60 videos were well done and showcased their ideas nicely, I couldn’t help but hear how many people, myself included, had difficulty with the editing process, noticing how much simpler it would have been to just write it out instead of working with the online tools. Despite the fluidity that comes with a film presentation, there is twice the amount of effort behind even a 60 second video as there is with a written piece which can be daunting for future potential media users.

I also believe that when it comes to video, it is much easier to get distracted by other things. From a generation who tend to multitask and give only small bits of attention to any given piece, it’s easy to feel that because the text of the material is being verbally presented to us that there is no need to spend our whole attention on it. For example, when it comes to reading a book, most people will immerse themselves entirely to the contents, to be able to absorb all of the material it can require all of your attention. When it comes to watching videos online, some people may have several tabs open at once, merely listening to the audio of a video while scrolling through various other online mediums, thus missing any visual aids that accompany the concept and losing some of the meaning in it.

Overall, I think both methods of conveying ideas are entirely effective in their own ways, sometimes it may be more efficient to rely on visual and audio aids to get a point across, while other times it may be better to invite different interpretations to an idea.

With Great Power…

High School had a LOT of assignments that I perceived as busy work. What was my solution to busy work? Google! Another worksheet with information I have to fill in from the textbook? Google! In Calculus, I would ask the almighty Google for answers and it delivered. This is great! Homework is a breeze, a nice stroll in the park, no worries here! AP Euro had a lot of reading to do. Why would I read through all that when I can just take a quick detour down convenience lane and save the rest of my evening? But although classes seemed sunny, carefree, and easy, I didn’t realize I was living a LIE. Dark clouds were on the horizon.

Exam time. Having some slight difficulties…Where is your Google GOD now? Your savior has forsaken you! I had made a mistake that I am sure everyone has made at some point in their academic career. Filling in homework worksheets with Google is not learning. I was not learning how to find the derivative of a line when I googled every equation in my math homework. I was not learning the intricacies of European History when I googled brief definitions of names and terms to fill in on my homework packet.screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-5-28-54-pm

Learning the Process>Google the Answer…but it takes longer:(

Learning is a process. Most people need time to let information stew in their brains. Time to reflect on information and process is just as important as the contact time with material in class: homework helps achieve this reflection and processing. But the main point here: from my experience, it is human nature to seek the path of least resistance. The ‘easiest’ path is usually the path taken, even if it is a path that leads to inevitable problems (problems we may not foresee). I looked up answers to homework to save time in the present, even though I would need to understand the material to do well on exams in the future. My thoughts on this matter stem from Carr’s discussion on the Van Nimwegen study on page 214. The lack of a hand-holder for the barebones group was actually beneficial: sure, it was less taxing on the screen assisted group. They had less mental gymnastics to do. But the bare-bones group was the winner in the end, using “‘more focus, more direct an economical solutions, better strategies, and better imprinting of knowledge’” (Carr 215).

The point I want to make is that Google is a wonderful tool to aid in learning. If I wanted to learn anything at all right now, I’m sure I could Google it and be on my way. But like most tools, it can be seriously misused. In spoon feeding so much information at such a rapid pace, the process of learning is at risk. I must be vigilant in observing how my use of Google and other technology impacts my learning. Google should be used as an asset to learning, not as a crutch for homework. With great power… comes great responsibility!