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Tutorial 1: Definition, purpose, and value of vlogging

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 2 months ago

Tutorial 1. Definition, purpose, and value of vlogging


Video: Part 1



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Welcome to the first of five vlog productions on vlogging designed for use with my two Fall courses, CI5410, Teaching Digital Writing, and CI5472, Teaching Film, Television, and Media Studies.  I’m making these vlogs to demonstrate what you will be doing yourself in constructing your own vlog posts.



You will be creating vlogs, then editing them using iMovie (Macs) or Windows Movie Maker (PCs), then uploading your videos to the University’s Media Mill to store and compress them, then adding them to YouTube, and then posting the YouTube URL to your blog.



These vlogs will coincide with the use of the textbook, Secrets of Vlogging. For another useful tutorial on this whole process if vlogging by Steve Garfield, John Barth, Jason Crow and Four Eyed Monsters: http://projectnml.org/examplars/06vlog


The first vlog will provide you with an overview of the nature and value of vlogging.



I would like to note that the production of these vlogs has been supported by a grant from the College of Education and Human Development.  And, purchase of the Kodak Easyshare cameras for your vlog production was supported by another grant from the College’s Committee on Academic Uses of Technology.  So, your College technology fees are being put to good use.



Let me also note that the written version of these vlogs are on the two course blogs as well as on the digitalwriting wiki and the teachingmedialiteracy wiki.  The URL links for sites I refer to in these vlogs are in these written versions.


If you need technical assistance for work on any of this, you can contact myself at rbeach@umn.edu or Yang Lin, the C & I Tech Fellow located in 125 Peik, at yanglin@umn.edu  For use of certain editing software programs such as iMovie or Windows Movie Maker in the computer labs such as 355 Peik, you will be able to seek assistance from the lab assistants.



What Are Vlogs And Why Produce Them?

Let’s begin with the question, What are vlogs and why produce them?



Vlogs can be described as video versions of blogs.  Vlogs are also like video podcasts—podcasts with video material.  Rather then simply producing a blog post as a print text, you will be creating a video to convey your message.  Your entire post could be just a video or you could supplement your written post with a video.  Your audience can now view a video of you and/or another person verbalizing what you might have put in writing.



So, why use vlogs? Why not just write out your posts?  Why bother with making video when you could just write out your message on your blog post.



There are several reasons for the increased use of video. In the age of YouTube, video has become an increasingly popular way to attract and engage audiences.  Audiences are now more accustomed to viewing videos on their iPod or cell-phone video players.  A recent Pew Family  & the Internet study found that one in five Americans views an online video everyday.  To attract audiences to your message, given the option of a blog post with or without a video, many audiences will select the post with the video.  This does not mean that audiences necessarily prefer to view your video.  Some may rather just read your post rather than viewing a video.



Vlogs have also become a popular tool for sharing all kinds of new media, for example, podcasts about digital storytelling on The Digital Story blog http://www.mefeedia.com/feeds/9862/ or discussions of blogging on Digital Campus




Vlogs also serve as a form of citizen journalism created by people who are present at an event and can share photos and video quickly for large audiences.  A number of bloggers captured photos and video about the 35W bridge collapse to share with others; see examples of the MPR WaveLength blog: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/special/columns/wavlength/archive/2007/08/citizen_media_cover_bridge_col_1.shtml


Vlogs are also popular for audiences who enjoy seeing you talking to them rather than simply reading your words.  Or, if you interview someone else, they may enjoy seeing that other person.



Vlogs also serve as a useful means of provide audiences with visual demonstrations on how to do certain things.  For example, vlogs may include screencasts of how to exe e certain computer programs. 



I am using these vlogs to demonstrate some of the things you will need to do in creating your own vlog posts such as how to use the Easyshare cameras or edit your video.  For example, the HowDoIMac vlog provides advice on using a Mac http://howdoimac.com/ One popular vlog on how to create video is Izzy Video, in which Israel Hyman provides specific tips on video production http://feeds.feedburner.com/hyman/



And, rather than just posting your video onto the Web and hoping audiences will stumble across it, with vlogs, your audiences can subscribe to vlog or podcast RSS feeds that are then delivered to them.  And, audiences can then comment on vlog posts, provide producers with a sense of audience reaction to their work.  Thus, rather than simply creating videos to park on the Web, you are creating videos that can be readily shared within the blogosphere to both others in the class as well as larger audiences.



Vlogs are also particularly useful in teaching media literacy, which is why we are using them in the media studies methods course to analyze or critique media texts.  Rather than just referring to media texts, you are actually showing audiences screen shots or video media texts, along with your written or voice-over commentary.  To do so, you import images or video into the “Main Entry” section of your vlog posts, for example, YouTube videos, and then analyze the image or clip in the “Additional Entry” section. 



Through learning to make videos, you are learning film techniques that can be applied to film analysis.  And, in learning to make vlogs, you begin to determine what constitutes effective vlogs, understanding that can then be used to critically analyze vlogs themselves as a form of new media.



Another advantage of vlogs is that they foster interactive exchange between you and your audiences. Rather than simply creating videos to park on the Web, you are creating videos that can be readily shared within the blogosphere to both others in the class as well as larger audiences.  And, your audiences don’t have to search the Web to find your material. Rather, signing up for RSS feeds from a blog. Rather than just posting your video onto a website and hoping audiences will stumble across it, with vlogs, your audiences can subscribe to a blog’s RSS feeds so that they then receive notice of new posts.



In this course, you will be setting up a free Bloglines account to receive feeds from both of these course blogs, as well as other blogs related to either digital writing or to teaching media literacy.  I’ll be talking about setting up your Bloglines account in the next module—for those of you in the media class, see the section in the Richardson book on setting up Bloglines.



Another advantage of vlogs is that, as is the case with YouTube or Flickr, you can then receive comment on your vlog posts, provide producers with a sense of audience reaction to their work.  In these courses, you’ll have the option of posting your videos on YouTube and then insert a link to your YouTube video in your post.  If you don’t want to put it up on YouTube, you certainly don’t need to.  If you do post to YouTube, you will not only be sharing your video with your peers, but you will also be sharing it with the larger YouTube audience.



In creating vlog posts, you are learning how to communicate in multimodal ways that combines print with image and video, something that you will need to be teaching your own students.  In doing so, you think about how certain images or video serves to illustrate their print text.  And, in creating and editing video, they need to learn how to select and edit visual material that will effectively convey their message.



As a teacher, you also want to create a classroom community in which students work collaboratively with each other.   In these classes, you will be working together as blog partners, sharing each other posts.  One advantage of vlogs is that with RSS feeds, students can subscribe to each other’s blogs and then read and respond to each other’s posts, all of which enhances the sense of operating in a classroom community.



Part II (see the second video)

In the second video of this first tutorial, I’m going to discuss your use of blogs in these classes, how to learn about vlogs, and address the question as to why create vlogs: what can your students learn from creating vlogs.




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Using Blogger


In these two classes, unless you already have a blog, we will be using Blogger to create your own individual blogs.  I’m having you create your own individual blog so that you’ll learn how to create and use blogs on your own so that you can then model that process for your students.  I’ve also selected Blogger because it’s one of the easier, user-friendly platforms to use for blogging. 


At the same time, in the future, you may to employ a single classroom blog that all of your students post to. By using a central blog, as is the case with one-stop shopping, you can find everything you want on these course blogs.  While students can access each other own blogs using RSS feeds, by having a single blog, they then see each other’s posts on the same blog.


To see an example of a classroom blog for an online composition course at the University taught by Krista Kennedy, you can go to the Life in the Network blog http://blog.lib.umn.edu/kenne329/3401s07/


This course is similar to the media studies class in that it involved writing about different aspects of the media.  On this classroom blog, students include clips of media texts that they then critique.


Some of you who are in the English post-bac program will be taking composition methods course from Candance Doerr, whose blog contains examples of multimedia presentations by members of the 2007 post bac cohert: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/doer0026/cyborgs/




One variation on vlogs is what is known as photologging in which people include a lot of photos to describe events in their lives.  Photologging is particularly popular for photographers who want to share their individual work beyond sites such as Flickr, but you don’t have to be a photographer to create a photolog. These photos can be embedded within an entry or in the sidebar.   People will typically put their images in the “Main Entry” and commentary about the images in the “Additional Entry” section.


To see some other photologs, or create a photolog account on another site, you can go to Fotolog http://www0.fotolog.com/, Photoblogs http://www.photoblogs.org/ or TextAmerica



Learning about vlogs by viewing them


One way to learn about vlogs is to visit some of the vlog sites.  There are an extensive number of vlog sites described in the Secrets of Videoblogging textbook, listed on the digital writing resource site: http://digitalwriting.pbwiki.com or found on vlog directories such as Mefeedia, http://mefeedia.com, FireAnt, http://fireant.tv, iTunes http://www.apple.com/itunes

or VlogDir http://www.vlogdir.com  You can go to VlogMap that contains a Google Map of vloggers from throughout the world.


One local popular vlog is Minnesota Stories http://www.mnstories.com/ described on page 40 of the text.  This vlog includes daily posts featuring stories about local Minnesota issues. Another Minnesota vlog, ReelDiscussions,

http://www.reeldiscussions.tv/home.html features video reviews from four Minnesota film fans Joel Sterling, Joni Weston, Paul Carr and Karen Calla.  David Howell Studios is another local vlog http://www.davidhowellstudios.com/



Part 3: Analyzing Vlogs and Why Create Vlogs (see video below):

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In viewing these vlogs, consider differences in the quality and rhetorical effectiveness of vlogs. Well-made vlogs exploit the video aspects of the productions to engage audiences—how the visual is used to compliment the verbal to communicate to audiences.  In the Minnesota Stories vlog, the close up shots of individuals is designed to engage you with them as if you were talking with them in a conversation.  In the Reel Discussions vlog, the reviews include film clips as well as some disagreements about films within the group that serve to create interest in the vlog.


Well-made vlogs also convey producers’ strong interest or passion about a certain phenomena.  Producers convey that interest and passion through their delivery, nonverbal cues, and knowledge.  It is therefore important to select topics about which you have a strong interest that you want to convey to your audiences.


In viewing vlog posts, you may also notice that they are relatively short—typically about 2 – 5 minutes. It may be the case that audiences may also not want to view vlogs longer than 5 minutes on their screens.  One reason that vlog posts are short is that videos consume a lot of memory, even when they are compressed.



All of this means that in creating your vlog posts, you have limited time in which to convey your message, so you need to plan your post by create a script.  And, if you’re going to be using different shots, you should also create a storyboard.  In creating your script, since you’re going to be importing your video into an editing program such as iMovie, you should note where you plan to   between different shots.



And, well-made vlogs employ effective sound, lightening, and editing.  Because you are compressing your original video down to a 320 x 240 screen size, you don’t need to worry about making a high-quality Hollywood movie.  However, you want to make sure that camera is close enough to you so that the sound quality is good and that the lighting is adequate. You also want to edit out any extraneous footage, something I’ll discuss in a later module.




Summary: Why create vlogs?


Why then am I asking you to create vlogs in these courses? 



- Just am I doing with you, creating vlogs provides you with examples of vlogs to share with your own students.  You can then model what you did for your students. 



- Because these two courses are all about Web 2.0 interactive new media, you are also learning to employ a new media tool to communicate your thoughts and ideas in a multimodal manner. 



- And, in making vlogs, you are learning film and editing techniques, know-how that is important for analyzing films.



- And, you can also use vlogs to analyze examples of online media or film clips that you insert in your vlogs or post on your blog, something evident in the ReelDiscussions vlog.   Moreover, as evident in the increased use of YouTube videos in political campaigns, vlogs can be used to tool to persuade others.  As part of teaching persuasive writing, it is therefore important for students to know how to create vlogs.



- Vlogs also invite you to voice your beliefs and attitudes about the world. Sharing your thoughts and ideas with your peers through vlogs means that your peers get to know you better as a member of the classroom community. 



- And, because vlogs allow for comments, your peers can provide you with reactions to your work.   And, in work with your own students, you are creating opportunities for students to receive positive comments about their work, as well as potential for dialogue about that work, something that is essential for improving their writing.



To wrap up, in this first module, I have discussed the nature of vlogging and why I am asking you to use vlog posts in this course.  In the next module, I’ll discuss the kinds of equipment needed for creating your vlogs.


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