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2nd June 2006 at 01:00
ClipBank Utilities

Free software for enhancing usage of ClipBank video-clip libraries

www.channel4.comClipBank

Often you can have too much of a good thing. Take Channel 4's popular ClipBank digital library, for example. This offers teachers a feast of video clips that have been selected for use with 11 to 16-year-olds.

There are seven ClipBank libraries covering science, geography, history, design and technology and languages. Each library offers about 250 clips of variable length and they are ideal for illustrating various concepts or phenomena.

The Achilles heel of ClipBank has, in the past, been the time taken to find the right clips. So full marks to Channel 4 for addressing this and offering ClipBank Utilities, a free tool that can be downloaded from the ClipBank website and used to search ClipBank.

First, transfer your ClipBank files on to a server or local computer. I used the Science ClipBank DVD-Rom discs and downloaded the files on to the hard drive of my computer. Then I simply registered the ClipBank media that was stored on the hard drive and I was ready to go.

The current version of ClipBank Utilities is a beta version, which means it's still being developed. Even so, I was impressed. You can browse for clips by topic, type or Qualifications and Curriculum Authority list. You can also use a keyword search. Once you've found your clip, you are presented with a control screen that includes a small window which displays the clip and VCR-type controls underneath for play, pause, fast forward and rewind.

It's pretty impressive stuff, but it gets even better. You can take a screen snapshot for example, by simply pressing an on-screen button, and there are several other useful tools for teachers wanting to customise the ClipBank library.

My favourite tool is the Playlist function, which lets you build up your own video clip playlists, a must for organising smooth classroom productions.

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