Sunday, April 6, 2008

Look Ma, I'm on TV!

Fatty watching himself on TVLately I've been thinking about the following question; if I'm a visual learner, why do I have trouble with video? In the past month or so I've run into a lot more video on blogs. I'm not referring to people embedding YouTube videos or TED Talks. More and more people are including video entries and comments. Though I'm a visual learner, I'm finding that for a lot of content I'd rather text over video.

Here are some of the different uses of video I've seen on blogs (sans TED Talks and other formal presentations).

1. Video Comments: Not so long ago, Dean Shareski posted on Riffly, which allows people to leave video comments on your blog. It was neat to see and hear the people commenting, especially when they were people I've been reading on a regular basis. However, a number of commenters noted the downsides of video comments. In reply to Dean's post Sue Waters said, "it takes longer for you to take in the information from the spoken text because you can scan read with text" and Clay Burrel offered, "I’d rather have auto-transcription of voice-recognized audio. Who wants to have to watch a whole video comment to discover it wasn’t worth seeing? Or at least give us the fast-forward option."

Dean Shareski replied with, "I wonder if people had difficulty with the telephone when it was first introduced? Along with the cost, were there similar issues we now face with talking heads?" and later, "I wonder if many miscommunications I’ve seen on blog posts could have been cleared up had they used video." Dean's last point really resonates with me. I'm often putting in smiley faces to temper what I've written so that it doesn't come across as being too harsh. Others have 'LOL'-itis, presumabley for the same reason.

2. Video Posts: In March Stephen Downes did a follow-up post in video format (approx 16 minutes long) on his views on homeschooling. Some of Downes' views on homeschooling are seen as quite controversial. However, a number of the comments on this post mentioned the difficulties with the video format. For example, part of Jeremy Hiebert's response to the video was, "A spirited, reasoned response. I'll have to stew on it for a while, and maybe watch again before going too deep on a response. If you have your notes in digital form, would you mind posting them here as well? I think it's harder for me to follow and process the sequential nature of video." And from Dana Hanley, "Anyway, I'll respond in more depth tonight. Responding to video is a little more difficult.."

Charles Nelson posted a reply to Downes, and over half of what he wrote was about Downes' use of video: "his [Stephen Downes'] video made it clear to me that when using tools, we need to consider what they have to offer, how they can add to our message, and what we lose when using them." Nelson goes on to provide a good analysis of why he thought Downes' post failed and ends with, "This time requirement of viewing and understanding videos means that if they are to be used, they need to offer something that cannot be obtained in print only...". I highly recommend that if you are interested in the use and mis-use of video that you check out Nelson's full post here.

Of course there are others, like Gary Vaynerchuk who do video posts like this and this. I think that Vaynerchuk's video posts are successful in part because they are usually fairly brief (under 2 minutes) and have a single focus. Plus, he is so wired that it makes his message that much more intense.

3. Meet the Blogger: These are short video clips that bloggers post to build a rapport with their readers. An example of this is in Sarah Stewart's blog. She recently experimented with video and I felt like I got to know her a bit better seeing and hearing her. The key here is to keep the clip short. Which brings up another point; I'm a big fan of video skins (if that is the right term), that let you know how long a video is. Sometimes I don't have the time to watch a 15 minute video clip, so it is nice to know before I press play.

Perhaps in the future there will be ways of viewing videos that will allow us to easily scan and move backward and forward through the information. Or video coupled with text transcripts allowing you to scan the text and select the video when you find the part in which you are interested. Until that time, I'm going to have to really assess how I use video and how I ask my students to use video.

Having said all this, below is a brief (12 second) video hello from me. My goal; to create rapport with my readers and further establish my on-line identity. And no, my son never sits still ;-) A big thanks to Sue Waters and The Edublogger on info regarding embedding video on your blog! As a result I was able to modify the YouTube embed so that it did not include related videos, some of which were inappropriate.

What do you think about the use of video in blogs? Do you have some examples of successful video posts or comments? Or video formats that allow you scan, easily move back and forth, and/or bookmark video segments?Image: Fatty Watching Himself on TV by cloudzilla on Flickr. Creative Commons by attribution.


  1. Well I have done one video using Riffy I believe on Alec Courosa blog; which I spent way to long doing cause I'm never happy enough with the product. I like the idea of providing options -- because everyone has their preferences. I'm not into watching that much video any more because it's a time issue but lots of people like watching video.

    My other issue with video comments is I use comment tracking tools which strip out the video so I miss these comments unless they also write their response.

    I haven't watched Stephen's video so can't comment it but 16 minutes long is a good length. Where I have issue is some of the k12 onlines last year that were close to 1 hr; which are way too long for me to hold attention.

    Okay meet the blogger works really well; I love yours. I saw it demonstrated last year by Kate Foy who learnt it from Darren Prowse (Problogger). When I was told recently that I looked a lot different from how they imagined me in the photo I decided to create a video to let people see another dimension of who I am.

    Glad my post helped you with embedding the video :)

  2. Hi Claire -- I like this video introduction. For giving someone a sense of who you are, it's a great start, and much more personal than text. But I also agree that video isn't the way to transmit detailed information that you want to have discussed (unless the visuals presented help with understanding and wouldn't work just as well as a static image). This reminded me that I went on a total rant about podcasting four years ago (when it was all the rage):

    "I have no patience to listen to someone blather through twelve things in 20 minutes that don't interest me to get to the few sentences that are compelling. Worse, they can't link out to anything, and I can't copy or quote anything they've said. Skimming as you read and following links makes blogging work well -- it's part of information literacy to learn to discard what isn't relevant and focus on what is."

    Later on I did mention that the medium works well for giving someone a sense of your personality, I still like your little introduction. And I'm glad to have a beer-loving ed-tech'er in the next town over.
    : )

  3. @Sue Waters, I like the 'meet the blogger' approach too. As you mentioned, it allows people to see another dimension of the blogger.

    @Jeremy, thanks for checking out my blog. Nice to connect with another blogger in the Okanagan! With respect to podcasts, I think I would listen to more of them if I was a commuter. I just don't have the time to sit down and listen to a long podcast and I am no good at multi-tasking when one of the tasks is listening :)

  4. I loved your video - it is very effective for 'breaking the ice'. I think, like you have said, that the key is to keep it short and sweet. I am going to have a go and make a couple of videos and see how I get on.

  5. @Sarah, I'm interested in trying more with video too. I definitely have to keep in mind why I'm using video and whether or not is it interesting to or useful for my audience.

  6. Great video. I'd love to do this next year for my students using my online course. Fantastic blog too by the way. I've heard a rumor you are doing a pro-d session in Penticton this summer. I'm definitely attending! After viewing your video, you even strike me as the type of person I could work with on a regular basis!

  7. Jodie, it is amazing how you can make a connection with someone after only a 12 second video ;)


Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog! Any spam comments will be deleted.