Another Change or Die Education Video

Another 21st Century Plea from Tom Woodward on Vimeo.

I have mixed feelings about making this1. It has reached the level of mediocrity. Comments regarding ways to improve it are welcome2.

This has inspired me to get moving on the mock change education video I’ve been planning for a while.

I’ll detail how it’ll be used in a later post.


1 Although, it was required for work.

2 Curses and insults are understood.

Comments on this post

  1. Tim said on November 21, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Tom, your project is at least as good as any of the many, MANY videos I’ve seen on the same topic. The problem, however, isn’t with the repetitiveness of the message.

    It’s the fact that so many people – politicians, school administrators and others – watch them, nod their heads in agreement, and then keep doing the same damn thing.

  2. Mike H said on November 21, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    I agree with Tim except for one point. Everyone will not their heads in agreement and keep doing the same thing, except one group: Parents.

    Sadly, they’re also the group that will probably never see this.

  3. Dan Meyer said on November 21, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Disclaimer: I’m not a video editor. I just play one on TV.

    The aspect ratio hops around depending on the clip you’re ripping. I think I recall a tweet of yours that nodded at that bummer but I don’t recall any solutions you tried out. Were you in Final Cut Pro?

    There’s a moment where Sir Ken says, “Nobody has a clue [cut] what the world will look like in five year’s time” that motivates my critique.

    You have to hide that [cut]. You can slide that narration underneath any number of other clips and render it invisible. You can further hide it by choosing a single track to run under the entire piece. As it is, you have music that cuts out for Obama, then cuts back in, and throws off the rhythm.

    Video is high bandwidth. I love that the video and audio track can complement each other or play off each other. You could have shaved 25% off your running time by sliding a lot of interview audio underneath the video.

    I’m envious that video work is included in your job description. I need some of that.

  4. Tom said on November 22, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Tim– True. We do have a little more behind this than the video though. So I have some hope, not for monumental change, but for progress. I aim for some visible progress now. I’m hoping lower expectations will keep me from quitting a third time.

    Mike– I’m unclear. Are parents our hope?

    I always felt one of the major failings of education was in communicating and educating parents about what happens in classrooms. That, in my mind, led us to where we are now.

    Dan– I appreciate you taking the time to critique it. I agree with you. I think I’ll have time tomorrow to fix a few of those issues.

    The only thing I’m unclear on is the advice to slide the audio underneath the video to shave running time.

    I’ll have to look at it more closely (which makes me slightly nauseous at this point) but the only time I can think of that there isn’t conversation is during the Wesch pieces. I didn’t put audio under them because I don’t have faith in the ability to listen to one thing and read another with any understanding of either. I even slowed those pieces down because a number of people I showed it to couldn’t follow the text at the original speed.

  5. Susan WB said on November 23, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    My major issue with videos like this one is “OK, so show me what that looks like” (21st century classroom). We’ve all lived for years in 20th century classrooms as learners. We have no trouble envisioning that. We know what it looks like, and we tend to recreate as teachers the classroom experiences that we knew as students. What we lack is a mental model for what we are trying to achieve when we say we need to rethink education. These “change or die” videos may instill in teachers a sense of hopelessness if they aren’t matched up with a clear path towards the future. Older teachers may be inclined to just keep doing what they’re doing for a few more years until retirement and leave it up to the next generation of teachers to deal with.

    One reason people nod their heads and then go back to what they were doing all along is that they have no clue where to begin the big changes, and another is that after watching something like this they feel sort of antiquated and irrelevant – which is not particularly inspiring.

    And I know you are doing that “show me what it looks like” stuff here on this blog but others may not know that.

    Oh, one other thing, sometimes these “change or die” videos strike me as intended to incite fear in educators, and honestly no good decisions are ever made out of fear. Be careful what you hope for!

    • Tom said on November 23, 2009 at 3:29 pm

      Susan- This brief intro type of video isn’t meant to spell things out for people. It’s meant to try to elicit some reaction, create some conversation etc. This particular video was made as part of a larger process we’re doing in HCPS. I’ll get around to describing it on the blog sooner or later if you’re interested.

      I agree with you in some ways but I also expect a bit more out of teachers (videos or no). People shouldn’t have to tell a teacher how to change their classroom or even that it needs to change. Teachers ought to know this themselves. The fact that many teachers need/want a “clear path to the future” is frustrating to me. There is no clear path. The future is now- take what’s available now and use it. Try things. We’re supposed to be experts in content and pedagogy. That leaves some pretty simple tools to think about through these lenses and then apply. Technology today isn’t about programming or the command line. “Web 2.0” stuff is lowest common denominator usage. It’s made to be used by people who know nothing, yet we need “training” before even trying things. This isn’t rocket science.

      If you’re not thinking about how to use things going on in life in your teaching then you made a choice a long time ago to become irrelevant, the latest technology just makes it more apparent. Personally, I don’t think good classrooms have changed a bit. You just have more options now. Good teachers have always used whatever technology was at hand to enhance and expand their teaching. They’ve engaged students and made them think. We’re pretending this is radical change when it isn’t, not for good teachers.

      For me, it seems that if teachers want to be treated like professionals they’ve got to take more of a leadership role in their own profession. They can’t wait for people to tell them what to do. They shouldn’t wait for people to tell them what to do. Teachers ought to be actively pursuing ways to make their classrooms and students better. Either we’re the experts or we aren’t. If we aren’t, then I think we really have something to fear.

      I don’t think I intended to scare people. I certainly never said that I hoped anyone would be scared. I felt the movie moved pretty rapidly towards a focus on changing teaching in a positive way. I did try to instill a sense of urgency but the focus was on making school a better, happier place as opposed to saying China would eat us and India would grind our bones into bread.

      I would, however, disagree that people don’t ever make good decisions out of fear. People are often motivated to do all sorts of positive things out of fear. Fear plays a major role our educational system, our criminal justice system and quite a few religions. That doesn’t mean I want to motivate people that way. I’ll take another look and see what I think.

      • Angelica said on February 4, 2012 at 6:54 pm

        @David, I hope so too. Baby steps 🙂 I will be shnriag the site during my keynote at the Tri-State Ed Tech conference this weekend. Getting the word out about this great resource. Perhaps they'll add a second day for the focused talks to occur too.

  6. Mike H said on November 23, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    At first I laughed at, “Are parents our hope,” but then thought, “well, maybe.” Just saying, until they start expecting 21st century teaching from teachers, we probably won’t see much movement toward it in the classroom.

    Susan, I like what you had to say, and would add, that it helps to show what students have been able to do and succeed with. Teachers like seeing student improvement, too.

    • Tom said on November 23, 2009 at 3:31 pm

      Mike- IMO teachers should not be looking to parents for leadership or direction. Parents aren’t experts on teaching. Their voices should play a role in some aspects of school but certainly not all. It’s a shame how skewed those voices have become. Teachers ought to be educating and directing parents.

  7. Tom said on November 23, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Here’s a revised version (and improved) based on Dan’s comments. It still has issues but I’m hoping to get rid of Ken Kay at the end.

    Major difficulties were in dealing with background music that was part of interviews. Trying to take it out resulted in some really bad audio and leaving it in sounded like garbage.

  8. Susan WB said on November 23, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Tom –

    Thanks for the response. In some ways I’m playing devil’s advocate here, because I tend to agree with your positions but I know plenty who don’t. And honestly, you’re absolutely right about the professionalism issue. But the situation where I work (Adult Basic Education/GED/Adult ESL) is rather dire. I’m a technology trainer and my job is to move the teachers towards better technology integration. And yet just 2 weeks ago I found myself teaching a group of educators how to copy and paste images from a Google image search. Seriously. Web 2.0 is easy for someone who has a grounding in basic tech skills. But not everyone’s got that and when they don’t, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and inadequate to the task.

    And I do believe that fear tends to produce bad decisions. There is a tendency to just act – “OMG we have to do something! What? I don’t know – just do something!!” is the way I see things play out when people base decisions in fear. Sure, there’s criminal justice and commandments of the “thou shalt not” type but those are decisions NOT to act, to refrain. But decisions about what to do, what action to take, that’s a different thing entirely.

    I prefer an approach of building enthusiasm and excitement to one of dire predictions of the consequences of inaction. (And I’m glad, BTW, that you didn’t include those dire predictions of the U.S. being overtaken by India and China… I get rather tired of those.) I would agree with Mike who says that teachers like to see students doing well… my approach is to demonstrate the value for students because I think that induces a desire to get involved.

  9. Susan WB said on November 23, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    PS – like the new version better, esp the different music. Maybe it’s the overly doom & gloom music imported from some of the clips that gives the impression of inducing fear. This one seems much less so – more like a call to action, which I think will reach more educators more effectively.

  10. Mike H said on November 23, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    I wasn’t saying teachers should look to parents, I’m saying parents need to call principals, elected officials, and demand classrooms that will prepare their students for their future. I don’t think enough parents (voters) are involved with the educational debate with policy makers. It seems like the only time parents matter is when they don’t something taught in a school.

    It would be nice if parents saw these videos, read these blogs, and then voiced their opinion on what they want their children to do in the classroom beyond preparing for tests.

    I guess the problem is though, parents are probably more interested in the A, than learning. I’d hope these videos would change that mindset.

  11. Tom said on November 23, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Mike –
    I think that is my argument. In the situation you describe parents are directing schools and education. I don’t believe most parents know what good classrooms look like. I don’t believe many people, educators included, know what will prepare students for the future.

    If the only parents we’re getting are negative ones hell bent on returning to the stone age then I blame us. We are teachers. If we’re not educating parents and motivating them to get involved through a variety of means then it’s our fault. How will they know what to advocate for if we don’t tell them? We can’t even get teachers to read this stuff, expecting it of parents is pretty unreasonable.

    Besides, I don’t want parents giving me their semi-informed opinions on what should happen in the classroom anymore than I’d want patients influencing the decisions of my doctor.

    Education, transparency and communication in competent hands lead to trust. We don’t have trust right now for some pretty valid reasons. Educators created the emphasis on grades and continue to reinforce it. It seems odd to blame parents for it now.

  12. Chris Clark said on November 24, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    People don’t like big changes; we all prefer to keep most things the way they are. Most of us don’t want to mess with health care or the court system any more than “they” want to touch schools. And the problem is not limited to spineless leaders. A large share of the blame should fall on Joe Six-pack. Parents and other regular citizens don’t want us tinkering with an institution that they feel worked just fine for them.

    This kind of change will most likely come in slow, steady increments, rather than as the result of a revolution.

    I choose not to flail my arms, prophesy doom, or assert that technology X will cure all ills (of course, Tom does not do this either). I prefer to show people specific strategies that help reach specific learning goals more effectively or make teaching less frustrating.

  13. Blais said on November 27, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Change in education is needed. I think that many of the comments are correct, that those that can actually make change will agree and do nothing. Where do we start? I’m an education student that’s tired of the industrial era “teach to the test” method. We’re not merely trying to create workers as the world was during the industrial revolution when the current educational system was founded. We want thinkers and innovators. We want individuals that can come up with new fascinating ideas to benefit society, business, governments, and the world. Right now were just focused on the benefits for business. Where do we start? It starts locally in OUR schools.

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