29th April 2005 at 01:00
Pete Roythorne explains digital video

Once it would have cost in excess of pound;10,000 to get a video suite up and running in your school. However, the advent of digital video cameras has put this well within the grasp of all schools - you can get up and running for less than pound;1,000.

Digital video cameras store sound and pictures as bytes of data (computer code) rather than the conventional method of storing the video signal as a continuous track of magnetic patterns on magnetic tape (as you get in your video recorder).

Not only does this offer better sound and picture quality, but it is a much more robust medium for storing and transferring the data, as there is no loss of quality regardless of the number of times it is copied or the length of time it is stored.

Furthermore, modern hardware and software means that video information in digital form can easily be loaded onto computers, where you can edit, copy, email and manipulate it. This puts great results within the grasp of even the most inexperienced amateur, and what can be achieved in a short time is stunning and inspiring.

Another important factor is size. Digital video cameras are easily portable and self-contained and link almost effortlessly to any computer through modern data transfer methods, making it much easier to transport and use the equipment, and so more viable for use in schools.

But what use is it really in the classroom? "The moving image is the medium seen most by young people today, so they understand it," says David Baugh, ICT adviser for Denbighshire. "This familiarity means pupils can often find it far easier to communicate using the moving image than with the written word."

Digital video can have an impact right across the curriculum - for example, try recording science experiments and then exploring how these can be slowed down, freeze-framed or shared across the whole class; or use it to help students explore real-life or imagined situations, and then allow them to evaluate their performance or behaviour.

And if you're stuck for ideas or need support, David produces websites (below), that cover everything you need to know to apply digital video in the classroom.

However, one of the most powerful things it offers is the ability for students to go out and do it for themselves, in the form of news reports, documentaries or short films on anything from historical events to current affairs.

The only real limit to the application of digital video in the classroom is your imagination.

Ideas and resources:

(Search under "Digital Video Across The Curriculum") (Search under "Digital Video")

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