How To: Ready for Your Close Up?

from Technology & Learning

Create and post a video blog with ease.

Blogs, which began as a way to easily post one thoughts online in print, has evolved to include multimedia capabilities. A blog is not limited to text — audio and video can be incorporated. A video blog (commonly called a vlog) is a blog that uses video in its posts. People who create vlogs are vloggers, and the worldwide community of vlogs and vloggers is the vlogosphere.

How are Vlogs used in Education?

Many vlogs are student-created projects. It's a great learning experience. As an example, see BX21 (www.vemnyvlogsorg/bx21), which calls itself the "first ever multi-high school videoblog." Also, Atlantic City Rough Cuts at www.starw.org/acrc is described as "rough cuts of Atlantic City documentary work by students of the Martin Luther King, Jr. School Complex — the world's first elementary school blog," and video blogging created by high school students in Chicago can be viewed at www.cpcs.umb.edu/vista/blog/taylor_hales/archives/001374.html. For a good example of a vlog created for teacher professional development purposes, see the Infinite Thinking Machine at www.infinitethinking.org.

What do I need to create a Vlog?

You'll need three things — video, a blog, and a video host. The video can be your own, or it can be from sources such as Google Video (http://video.google.com) or YouTube (www.youtube.com). (Be sure that permission is granted for posting videos you obtain from sources such as these; they are other people's intellectual property and copyright laws need to be respected.) To create your own video, a digital video camera and access to a program such as iMovie (free, included on many Macs) or MovieMaker (also free, included with Windows XP) is what you need to create and edit the video. These video editing programs give you the opportunity to edit your videos, interchange clips, add audio, as well as add special effects. Of course, storyboarding, script writing, and other elements of video production are needed as well.

After you have your video, you will need a blog, as well as a host for your video. There are many blogging services available, some at no cost, such as Blogger (www.blogger.com) and LiveJournal (www.livejournal.com), and some at a cost, such as TypePad (www.typepad.com).

A hosting site for your video is necessary, because many blog sites do not store your media. Google Video and YouTube are two possibilities for hosting; keep in mind, though, that these are general purpose sites and one may find objectionable material there. If your blog will embed your video on the blog page, then it is no problem. However, if a link is created to the video on the host's site, then your blog visitors will have access to that site's other videos.

For this example, I used Blogger and Google Video. Uploading to Google Video was easy. The site has a prominent link for uploading video; I clicked the link, signed in, completed the simple upload form, and then uploaded my video. After doing so, Google Video provided a direct link for adding my video to certain blogs — MySpace, Blogger, LiveJournal, and TypePad. I clicked Blogger, signed into my Blogger account, and the video was automatically posted. Easy!

For posting to other blogs (for example, if your school district hosts its own blogging for teachers and students), there is a link that allows you to embed the video on your Web site or blog. Click that link and copy the resulting code. You will need to paste it as HTML into your blog page.

And that's it! Your blog will now be ready for people to visit and see your videos.

An Example

Around the time of the 100th anniversary of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, I created a blog as if it were written through the eyes of survivors of that event. It is not just a vlog; it also contains audio, photos, and text for the full multimedia blogging experience (http://sf-earthquake.blogspot.com). I did this to demonstrate an example of an interesting possible student project involving research and presentation.

To create it, I went to Blogger and created a new blog. It was a simple three-step process — I created an account, named my blog, and chose a template.

I then went to Google Video and found a video clip of film taken just after the earthquake. I selected the "E-mail-Blog-Post to MySpace" link, which provided a link to Blogger as well as other blogging services.

Clicking that link opened up a window asking me for my Blogger username and password. I chose my blog, selected a video size and an autoplay option (did I want the video to automatically play when somebody visited the site?), and added a description. I clicked "Post to my blog" and it was done.

Had I been providing my own video, rather than one I found on a service, I would have also needed to upload it to a host. Google Video and YouTube, as mentioned previously, can also serve as the host. On Google Video, a link will bring you to a simple form where you browse to the video on your computer, give it a title and a description, select a genre and a language, and indicate if it is public or private. This is an especially useful feature — sif you indicate "private," it will not be searchable on Google Video. You can embed it in your vlog or e-mail a link to it to only those people whom you wish to see it.

An additional step you can take is to put it into a video podcast so people can subscribe to it. If you do that, then people can either visit your blog directly or subscribe to it with appropriate podcast software. Services such as Feedburner (www.feedburner.com), a feed management provider, make the process easy.

Another interesting way to create a video blog is by using Freevlog to guide you (www.freevlog.org). The site's step-by-step tutorials ensure that your content will be of high quality.

Jeffrey Branzburg is a contributing editor and columnist for T&L.

The Infinite Thinking Machine is a vlog dedicated to professional development.

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