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Seeing is Believing: Harnessing Online Video Clips to Enhance Learning


Voice of Experience

Educator Brenda Dyck reflects on how the Net offers a valuable source of video that brings history to life for her students. For students of the video- and technology-age, seeing is believing! Included: Dyck recommends some of the best sources of online video!

Squeezing a high-tech learning environment into a 1940s classroom can be like forcing a round peg into a square hole. Electrical outlets are at a premium; blowing a fuse can be a daily event! But, whenever I am down on my knees searching for an electrical outlet, my mind floats back to the classrooms of my past. I can still remember how much I looked forward to filmstrip presentations -- and the even bigger rarity, a 35mm film!

I still recall the day a film about pygmies arrived at our school. The whole school watched, mesmerized, even though nobody was studying about pygmies!

And I will never forget that November day in 1963 when three classes crammed into our small classroom so that we all could watch President Kennedys funeral on our school TV.

More Voices of Experience!

Have you seen these Voice of Experience essays from Brenda Dyck?

  • Your Students -- No Two Are Alike
    Brenda Dyck focuses the first weeks of instruction on helping students become familiar with their learning strengths.

  • Driven By Data: What Its Like to Teach in the Age of Accountability
    Eight questions to help determine if data gathering will be worth the effort.

  • In Classroom, Computers Often Yield More Glitz Than Guts
    Brenda Dyck reflects on how our zeal to integrate the most up-to-date technology can result in more "glitz than guts."

  • Becoming a Wired Teacher
    Brenda Dyck discusses a "wired teachers" group she led in her school.

  • Back-to-School Survivor Day Offers Lessons About Quality Learning
    Dycks administrators used the Survivor TV show as a theme to teach lessons about how creating a quality classroom environment.

  • Telecollaborative Project Develops Compassion, Global Awareness
    Telecollaborative learning can alter the lives of middle school students.

  • Students Reach for the 'Skylights' of Learning
    Brenda Dyck on her effort to challenge students to use more thinking skills at the higher levels of Bloom's taxonomy.

  • Stand By Me: Using Teacher Listservs to Collaborate With Other Educators
    Reflecting on the power of educator listservs as a tool for to mentoring and celebrating classroom successes.

    Searching for Voices
    Care to reflect on a classroom experience that opened your eyes? Click here to learn more.
  • Over the next few years, more films were brought into our classrooms. With the advent of the VCR, educational television followed.

    How could someone like me, from the filmstrip generation, have ever envisioned a day when I would be searching for unused outlets and for ways to connect to curriculum content with Net-Generation students who have been surrounded by digital media since they took their first breaths?


    Most teachers have come to understand that Net-Geners relate best to curriculum when teachers incorporate the medium that captivates them the most -- video -- to help translate abstract concepts or events into their reality.

    Once again, the Internet has come to my rescue! On the Net I have discovered access to a library of video clips relevant to my curriculum -- video that inspires, challenges, and teaches. Using a projector connected to a computer, the content of those clips can be experienced by my students and myself. Those clips open up tremendous opportunities for meaningful dialogue.

    The Web can transport learners to places and times long ago. It offers experiences that bring history to life in ways no other medium can. Via the Internet, my students can:

    Many of the sites my students visit via the Internet challenge their mental models, blast cultural stereotypes, and inspire them to explore in further depth the people, places, and events of history.


    Short, powerful messages can stir even the most complacent student to act. The Web offers a huge library of video created for that purpose. In the classroom, that video can prompt discussion, inspire writing, and create emotional connections that will stick with students for a long time. The following online video offerings provide just a few examples:

    • Bullied, Battered, and Bruised is a powerful 25-minute documentary special created by the Canadian Broadcasting Company. (Scroll down the page to find many other potent video clips related to bullying.)
    • World Against Child Labor; and
    • The Power of One is a short video clip that features historical and contemporary persons whose efforts illustrate how every one of us can make a difference.


    Net-Geners are use to seeing historical events unfold before their eyes. The Web offers an abundance of historical film and audio from which students can learn about and experience events long before their time. The following are a few excellent sources of historical video:

    • National Holocaust Museum The National Holocaust Museum Film and Video Archive includes 420 hours of motion picture footage (primarily from the 1920s to 1948). Here students can view video of large crowds gathered for Adolf Hitler's arrival at the Nazi party rally in Nuremberg, Germany (September 1937) as well as attacks against Jewish property and family life.
    • American Field Guide A library of more than 1,400 video clips enables students to experience America's wilderness.
    • The Veteran Experience View video of American veterans as they share their war memories.
    • The History Channels Speech Archive Hear the words that changed the world.

    Up-to-date Internet access allows teachers to seize countless learning opportunities. Through video news clips, students are able to get instant answers to their questions about history or the most current of current events. The following sites provide excellent sources of video relating to todays top news stories:

    • Frontline This documentary series from PBS exposes readers to investigative journalism. The topics are often controversial and the videos challenge students critical thinking skills. Useful teacher guides are included.
    • CNN Find video relating to up-to-the-moment breaking news stories.

    Brenda Dyck teaches at Masters Academy and College in Calgary, Alberta (Canada). In addition to teaching sixth grade math, Brenda works with her staff in the area of technology integration. Her "Electronic Thread column is a regular feature in the National Middle School Associations Journal, Middle Ground. Brenda is a teacher-editor for Midlink magazine.