ETAD, Learning, Technology

Data Driven School Video- Critique of the Video Design

So the journey continues…

As I stated in my last post I am currently taking an Advanced Video Design for Learning class.  My first assignment is to find an educational program and critique it in terms of its goals, objectives and production techniques.  In essence my assignment is to look at the video through a different lens.  To not just watch the program and consume the information within but see how the video was created.  To do this assignment I needed to start with a video format I was very familiar with (dramatic movies) before I could move into an educational program.  For me this first step allowed me to focus on a familiar genre as I applied my new learning.  Now as I move into my own self created step 2 I will dig into an educational program.

The program I chose to critique is A Visit to A Data Driven School by the ASCD.  For me this video represents a very typical and widely used educational program format.


Goals of this video:

  • Demonstrate the use of different strategies to assess the use of instructional strategies and teaching techniques to improve instruction
  • Demonstrate one way to create a more detailed picture of student achievement and school system effectiveness

Production Techniques used:

  • The Camera
    • Pans were frequently used to allow the viewer to move between the teacher and the students.  This allowed us to see the interaction and reactions between the instruction and the learner.
    • Zoom Ins and Zoom Outs were used extensively throughout this video.  At times I felt that they were over used and distracting.
    • Movement– at one point in the video the camera is moved around the teacher while at the same point maintaining focus on her.
  • Audio– Voice over was used extensively in the transitions between scenes.  As well voice overs were used to provide additional information as to what was occurring from the perspective of various participants.  This video also uses a narrator to set the scene and provide background information deemed necessary for the viewer.
  • Shots
    • Classroom- These scenes are designed to show what it looks like in a classroom environment.  They show the lesson and the interaction between the students and the teacher.  In the classroom scenes the shots varied form Close Ups (CU), to Long Shots(LS) of the classroom, to Point of View Shots (POV) of the teacher and the students, to Extreme Close Ups (XCU)  of the assessments the students were completing.
    • Teacher Interview- These scenes provided the viewer with the teacher’s perspective and the “why” of what she was doing during the lesson.   The setting for these interviews was in the classroom which allows the viewer to connect more easily the “what” of the classroom scenes, with the “why” of the interview.  Keeping the setting consistent in both was a good way to support the viewer in making this connection.  These Shots were all Close Ups (CU).
    • Expert Interview- Executive Director of Curriculum- The purpose of these scenes is to establish the purpose of these strategies and techniques from an expert perspective.  She provides the research based information about the strategies being demonstrated and generalize them for all teachers.  The setting chosen for this interview was in a more formal looking office.  The background was poorly lit and dark which draws one into focusing more on the expert. Again the shots in this interview were all Close Ups (CU) which allows the viewer to really hone in on what she is saying by drawing our focus to her face.
    • Superintendent Interview- Again the location for this was a more darkly lit  environment and the shots were all Close Ups (CU).  The superintendents purpose was to establish how and why these techniques are important to the larger district.
    • Teacher entering data into the computer– These shots were consisted of Medium Shots (MS), Over the Shoulder Shots,  and Close Ups (CU).  They were used to demonstrate the next step in the data collection which connects the classroom to the district.  The setting for these scenes was in what appears to be a different location from the classroom.  In this way it signifies that this work is done outside of the classroom student contact times.
  • Titles and Subtitles–  This video uses a title at the beginning to establish the topic.  As well, subtitles are used to identify the various interview participants and establish their expert status by providing their job titles.
  • Editing- This video is heavily edited. We are constantly switching from shots of the students, to the teacher, to the whole classroom, to the interviews, to the filling out of forms, and back again   At times I think the editing is excessive and not necessary.    The constant motion takes away from my ability to see and reflect on what is happening in the moment.

Through this critiquing process I am beginning to see the connection that exists between the goals of a video and the production techniques used.  The productions techniques need to be chosen carefully so that they enhance, and support the goals.  If used properly they can add to the learning experience, evoke emotion, and support the message.  If used improperly they are distracting and detract from the message.

Not sure I will ever look at a video the same way again.  🙂


4 thoughts on “Data Driven School Video- Critique of the Video Design”

  1. Hi Jennifer:
    Agree with your comments regarding editing. Over packaged, a bit slick. Could have spent more time on some of the shots, let things develop a bit more. I think the producer, or editor may have worried the piece was going to bog down so he kept things moving along, undercutting interviews with b-roll. Re titles: I guess the true test of this piece would be , if you told the story without titles, just editing it as you would linearly, would it make sense for someone seeing it for the first time. Cheers, Mark

  2. Hi Jenn!
    I must confess that when the narrator first described what the video was about (data collection – something that is HUGE in our profession at the moment) I was a bit skeptical simply due to the subject matter! Adding on to Mark’s comment about bogging us down, I must agree that the editor chose to use these shots to keep things moving. I personally am glad that these shots were shot this way because it can be really difficult to keep a teacher’s attention on a video regarding data collection!

    I thought the video was well-done considering the subject matter. It is obvious that thought went into the shots and into the editing in order to keep things moving along. Teachers are the most difficult audience to keep engaged -and this video managed to keep me engaged!

  3. Great feedback gentlemen. I agree Jenn that you really need to analyze the purpose of the video and determine how it charts the course of what you see. Yes heavily edited but to engage parents and other administrators it likely works. The major flaw for me was not input from students. Only a few responses to questions.


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