CreativityCreativity here refers to problem solving. Being able to abstract an issue or a problem, and look at it from a different perspective is essentially a creative exercise. Even students who are not necessary artistic need to be able to see things differently. “Thinking out of the box” may be a thunderous cliche, but it fits well here: oftentimes the simplest, most elegant solution requires students to reframe a problem, or look at it in an entirely new way. As Albert Einstein said,
Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.So how can video projects stimulate creativity? Here are a few ideas:
- Music videos. Asking students to visualize an Emily Bronte poem (for example) as a music video, will encourage them to think differently about what the poem is about, its imagery etc. Music videos are a great way to encourage students think in the abstract, and to try and represent what they read on the page, or hear, visually.
- Single-shot video. Telling a story without cuts or edits will challenge students to think carefully about what they capture. It will challenge their communication skills and help them understand the nuances of perspective and about the restriction of linear, narrative forms.
- The short. Limiting a video project to a few seconds, can force your students to be precise and creative. If, for instance, you asked students to create short videos defining complex concepts such as humanity, democracy or anxiety using only real-life footage and a short time frame, you encourage deep thinking about those subjects, and hopefully some creative ideas about what they truly mean.
Critical thinkingIt is becoming increasingly important that students develop the ability to interrogate what they read and hear. In a “Post-Truth” media environment, having the courage and analytical skills to question authoritative texts, news stories and social media is essential. Balancing knowledge with skepticism is a healthy exercise, academically and emotionally. Some ways that you can work on your students’ critical thinking abilities using video include:
- The interview. Ask students, in pairs, to film an interview of themselves discussing a contentious issue. Once the interview is recorded, ask them to take the exact same footage and edit it, to show bias towards one or other position.
- Propaganda. This exercise is fun to do with apolitical topics. So, perhaps ask them to create propaganda films for their favorite foods.
- What if? Asking students to create small documentaries on historical incidents that never happened, or happened differently, is a creative way to get them to think about the environment they now live in, and how history has made it that way.
CollaborationWorking together is an essential academic, as well as life, skill. Conflict resolution, role definition, consensus, leadership, sharing credit and taking responsibility are high-value skills that even very young students must start to learn. Anyone who has ever watched a making-of documentary about a major blockbuster will appreciate the enormous amount of collaboration and teamwork involved, and setting any video group video project will challenge your students’ collaboration skills. Another idea is to ask groups, working on any project, to delegate a member to shoot a “making-of” style video. Behind-the-scenes videos will capture the collaboration, and offer the group an opportunity to reflect on how they worked together.
CommunicationClearly communicating ideas and opinions requires high levels of emotional IQ. Active listening, as well as logic and language skills are required to communicate effectively. Understanding how modern devices and communication technology can both enhance, and in many cases, disrupt clear communication is also necessary. Video, as we have discussed, can be a very effective communication tool in and of itself, but it can also be used to build other communication skills. Some video projects that can build a student's communication skills include:
- How to. Challenge your students to create short videos on how to make something - a craft or a dish. Make sure there is a time limit, and students are compelled to include succinct, clear instructions and guidelines. It may be fun to play the video in class, where students actually go through the tutorial and evaluate how successful the communication was.
- Synopsis. Asking students to do a time-limited synopsis of a book, play or movie to camera will challenge their communication skills, as they seek to summarize the main themes and plot of the movie without losing clarity or focus.
- Speech re-edit. Ask students to find footage of a speech - politicians here make great subjects - that is rambling and struggles to get to the point. Now ask students to re-edit the footage in a way that the speech makes more sense.