Digital content, streaming media,
and on-demand learning
resources are cascading into
schools, replacing a tired
generation of antiquated
tools and practices. In the
Boulder Valley School District, leaders recently
placed state-of-the-art projector systems in all
classrooms and implemented a powerful district wide
media distribution cloud that brings safe
streaming media resources and carefully selected
cable television channels to every desktop in the
district. However, effective infrastructure, delivery
systems, and content are only half the story.
The more exhilarating half of the story involves
changing the classroom paradigm.
Sometimes, providing new equipment and
transparent media delivery systems means that
teachers continue to teach in traditional ways,
even though they are using 21st-century resources.
How can we enable teachers to teach differently
than they have in the past when using streaming
video and audio resources? At BVSD, the journey
to this answer led to eight big ideas:
1. Less is More. 21st-century teaching with
new media requires less. Less video. Less
talk. Less time. The video educators use must
therefore be shorter, tightly connected to learning
targets, and more focused.
2. What’s Mine is Yours, What is Yours
is Mine. It does no good if teachers create
dozens of visually powerful and effective video
segments, yet keep the segments to themselves.
In order to take advantage of the crowd sourcing
power of technology or promote the collaborative
sharing of information, we have to break beyond
the boundaries that force teachers to constantly
re-create the wheel in their own classrooms. Using
the district’s digital media distribution cloud,
every video segment made by any single teacher is
available to all teachers in the district.
3. Do Something With It. Today’s teaching
and learning emphasizes active learning,
not just passive experience. When teaching
with streaming media, it is vital to involve
students in a meaningful way along with
the video. Advanced organizers, graphic
organizers, rubrics, look-fors, and essential
questions can all support effective use of streaming
media. These tools can be used before, during, or
after the video-based instruction.
4.Make it HOT. Try out this HOT (higher
order thinking) challenge: visit various
classrooms in any school and track the type of
questioning occurring during the use of video based
instruction. In most cases, a visitor will
witness more than just recall, fact-based, or
comprehension-based questions. Rather, learning
and teaching with new media requires that the
questioning we stitch into our video instruction
take our students to higher levels of thinking—
toward comparing, contrasting, transferring,
reconstructing, and evaluating.
5. Aim it! Exceptional teaching with new
media requires the aim of a seasoned
sharpshooter. Aim your short video segments
at specific misconceptions, key learning targets,
or abstract concepts that are difficult to explain
to the research,
without this connected
laser-like focus, most video carries nothing
more than cognitive ‘noise’ in the classroom.
Again, our digital content delivery system not
only gives us tools to make short ‘aimed’ video
segments, it also provides closed captioning or
labeling support for learning-challenged students,
as well as the ability to do voice-overs on videos.
We can also build transportable links, using
a built-in “URL builder,” to construct special
video segments that can be directly delivered to
struggling or absent students with the ability to
track which resources have been viewed.
6. Make it Stick! When playing to its
strength, video is an unsurpassable medium.
We need to use video, above all, to create learning
‘stickiness,’ not just fill time. This notion suggests
that video must be used primarily to construct
mental pictures, convey emotions, provide deep
context, foster curiosity or mystery, or tell powerful
stories. Things that will be remembered.
7.Practice the 4 Ps. Preview. Prepare.
Pause. Produce. This is the oldest and
sagest advice in the literature about the effective
use of video. Nonetheless, it fits even the most
modern requirements for a 21st-century vision
of teaching and learning. Unwanted classroom
surprises are never appreciated.
8.Pursue Student-Created Content. The
better we get at teaching with new media,
the more we will see students doing the work, not
just the teacher. For example, the BVSD digital
content delivery system will permit students to
store their original video production work; create
video mash-ups, essays, and montages; build video
segments; construct and deliver video URLs; and
do this from home or school.
Along with good pedagogy, schools cannot
teach with the new media without the supportive
ecosystem of ample digital content, high-speed
infrastructure, easy-to-use and manageable
classroom projector systems, and an agile media
management/distribution software platform.
Boulder Valley deployed the Calypso integrated
classroom projection system in order to bring
simplicity and manageability to each classroom.
The district deployed the MediaCast digital
content delivery system to provide digital content
to teachers and students—both at home and
at school—in a safe
‘backyard.’ The ideal
new media school will
create an effective system
that provides high-quality
content of a district’s choosing,
advertisement free, and with one user
interface. It’s sharable and available 24/7 in a safe
and accessible private cloud environment—your
own digital ‘backyard.’
Clearly, it is the combination of tools,
technologies, and teaching strategies that promises
to be a game changer for visually rich 21st-century
Len Scrogan is a Digital Learning Architect,
past Director of Instructional Technology for
the Boulder Valley School District, and Adjunct
Professor for the University of Colorado-Denver
and Lesley University.
Tools They Use
CCC Core Curriculum
Tools and tips for going paperless
Going paperless—it’s good for the trees, good for budgets, increases efficiency
and organization, and makes life easier in many ways. Here’s how tech can help:
A computer, tablet and/or smartphone lets you check your electronic data
whenever you need.
A scanner with document-feed capabilities (vs. a flatbed scanner) lets you
digitize all the paper you already have for easy access and storage.
Apps and software are the next piece of the paperless puzzle. I use Google’s
products for calendar, task list, contacts, documents, email, blogs, Web sites,
and more. I use Evernote for notes and also have scanned documents and other
files uploaded to my Evernote notebooks. I use Dropbox and Sugarsync to back
up all of my files and can access them at any time, from my smartphone or any
If you like taking notes with a pen and paper, take a look at one of the LiveScribe
smartpens. You write on the special paper (buy it or print it out) and the pen
stores what you write. I t also has a built-in voice recorder and can sync your notes
to your computer and makes them digital and accessible anywhere.
Going paperless is a great way to get organized, help the environment, save
money (after the initial hardware purchase, all the apps are free), save your
back, and be more efficient.