I’m experimenting. Unsure if this will be a boon or boondoggle, but knowing that increasingly video is a way of reaching folks, I’m trying my hand at shooting short video messages for my school community. My first, a short foray into “vlogging” in which I wear a ridiculous hard hat, went out a couple of weeks ago. I posted it to YouTube, tweeted a link, and put a link on Diegueño’s Facebook page. Then I sat back to see what would happen.
Curious, I suppose about this goon masquerading as a construction worker, a few folks started watching. I’d made the commitment to keep it short (43 fabulous seconds) and focused: Stay Off Campus! …while we finish major construction! with the thought that more might watch if they knew their commitment was small. By the end of the day the video had logged about a hundred views. Taking away friends, fellow educators, and buddies from college who just watched so they could send me cheeky emails, that meant that at least a dozen Diegueño families probably saw the message. I was encouraged.
I made another video the next week. Clocking in at 49 seconds, this one focused on two pieces of useful information: how to sign up for an Aeries account and how to register online for our electronic parent newsletter. It picked up almost a hundred and fifty views in a couple of days, spurred I think by the tease on Facebook that it contained “two things to do before classes start.”
I know that statistics show that an increasing percentage of web content is video, and I want to see how I can harness this tool to connect with my families. In an age where paper newsletters are an environmental hazard and all-call phone messages have a tendency to be overused and hung up on, I’m interested in finding out if video can be another arrow in our communication quiver, joining Twitter, Facebook, emails, and our school website as digital avenues of communication. We’ll still call home when we need to, but this provides parents and students with information on demand, and a face to go with that information.
I don’t think the immediacy of seeing the person delivering the message is something to discount. I may not be as pretty as some principals, and I’m still working on sounding natural on camera, but I like that parents and students can put a face to my name, and see the fellow who otherwise would be a disembodied voice on the other end of their phone.
My assistant principal got into the game, making a virtual parent orientation video with voiceover on a Prezi he posted to our website. With major construction keeping our site closed to foot traffic in the weeks leading up to the start of the school year, this was a godsend. A student version, posted by our ASB kids got nearly 400 views, showing, I suppose that cinema belongs to the young.
I posted a third installment of my under-60-second film series. At 37 seconds I thought it would draw folks in. Perhaps the awkward thumbnail photo kept them away. In the spirit of spontaneity I didn’t fuss over editing. In retrospect I would have tinkered with both look and content. It did get some likes on Facebook, however, and even a kind comment, so I’m committed to my Scorsese phase, at least for a while longer.
And if this proves to be folly, if all of a sudden parents begin their conversations with me with “You’re no Kurosawa, Mr. Paige,” then I’m okay with that. Education after all is trying new things and being willing to risk failure in pursuit of something that might work.
Might this? We’ll see. If not, I’ll have grown from the experiment, and given my college friends something to kid me about.