Week 7 – Filmmaking

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We live in a visual age – a picture is worth a thousand words!

“When I was a kid, there was no collaboration; it’s you with a camera bossing your friends around. But as an adult, filmmaking is all about appreciating the talents of the people you surround yourself with and knowing you could never have made any of these films by yourself.” Steven Spielberg

Have you ever thought about being the Steven Spielberg of your school, by making excellent films about various events?  School plays, football matches, graduation events, prom nights, excursions, success stories, weekly news, interviews… We live in a visual age, where pretty much everything is defined by the Flicker frequency, and filmmaking has become a necessity when it comes to promoting digital literacy skills to young people. That is why our Digital Literacy for EFL Students course offers this filmmaking and video editing workshop to help students gain more knowledge and improve their skills in the visual arts.

You may think that filmmaking and video editing in a school setting would be a very complicated thing to do. Of course, it requires some experience in filmmaking to be able to run a workshop of this kind. However, you probably have enough basic gear in your school to get started. Please check the links (10.Filmmaking and 11.Filmmaking Guide) available on our Padlet – Digital Literacy for EFL Students for more information.

Here are some tips to make sure students get good results, and to make the process manageable and enjoyable:

  • Keep it short – a number one rule for good filmmaking in school is to start with short and simple films before you try making longer films.
  • Build skills – start with simple activities to demonstrate different shots, and how to use them, as well as how to work together in filmmaking teams.
  • Be clear about the film – explain what kind of film you are going to make, define your target audience.
  • Cut the choice – instead of going into complicated solutions and dealing with unnecessary details, set really tight limits, for instance: time limit, limited number of close-ups, long shots, mid shots, angles, music etc.
  • Work with your gear – you should not get frustrated if your equipment is not up to the job, so if you do not have a microphone do not try and record live sound, make the soundtrack on your computer or tablet afterwards, or if you only have a basic camera, shoot outside or in rooms with plenty of light, and if you do not have a tripod, then zoom out and get in close.

For the purpose of the Digital Literacy for EFL Students course we decided to make a short film interviewing the students about their experiences with the training, and the lessons learned. What we needed to prepare beforehand was the script for the students’ interviews. We decided to focus on these questions: What do you think about digital literacy in the 21st century? What did you learn on the Digital Literacy for EFL Students course? Would you recommend it? Why?

We created a basic storyboard, and shooting schedule to list what was going to be filmed, where and when. We also discussed the various shot sizes such as: an extreme closeup (for important details), a closeup (showing parts of the subject), a mid shot (showing the top half of the body), a long shot (showing someone from head to foot), and extreme long shot (as a background video to show the setting).

Then we discussed camera angles such as: low angle, high angle, and birdseye angle; and we also explained what camera movements can be used to make the film more dynamic, such as: tracking shots (which can be done forward, backward or sideways), a tilt shot (it turns the camera upwards or downwards), with a pan (the camera turns left or right to scan a scene or follow a movement) etc.

The cameras we used during the recording stage were: Nikon D3100, GoPro Hero 3 (Silver Edition), and Phantom 2 Vision Plus Drone.

The next stage will be video editing on Final Cut. Check our next blog post for more details about the editing stage.

Have you ever recorded shots for a film? How easy/difficult was it? What cameras have you used? Have you ever created a storyboard?

Please share your answers in the comments section.

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Week 5 – Creating Web Space

Have you ever thought about creating your own web space?

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It is a great challenge, for young people especially, to find their apt position in the web space, in order to be able to exchange their ideas, services and goods on the global market. Therefore, the Digital Literacy for EFL Students course focuses on developing this skill among its participants, in order to prepare them for the digital era as future professionals.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • WWW stands for World Wide Web and it was invented in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee. He also introduced the first web server, the first browser and editor, as well as the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).
  • The first website (info.cern.ch) was published in 1991 by Tim Berners-Lee.
  • In 2013 alone, the number of websites increased from about 630 million to 850 million by the end of the year.
  • Today there are more than 1 billion active websites on the Internet.

There are basically two types of websites: static and interactive. Interactive sites allow you to interact with the site owner, while the static only present information and do not allow any interactivity between the owner and the audience, at least not directly. There are websites that are produced by enthusiasts for personal use or entertainment, and they are mostly informational. However, most of the sites are commercial and aim to make money, using a variety of models, such as advertising, e-commerce (you can actually buy products or services directly through the web site), freemium sites (you can use some of the contents for free, while premium contents are paid for).

In order to create your own web space, you will need to provide a domain name, which is your own web address, as well as hosting – a service that connects your site to the Internet. This might require a certain fee, which varies in different countries, although there are many other free platforms, like wordpress.com, which allow you to create a website from scratch in an easy way. Check out the links (8. How to Make a Website, and 9. How to Build a Website using HTML) available on our Padlet – Digital Literacy for EFL Students for more information.

For the purpose of this training, we decided to use our school’s website as our domain name in order to introduce students with the basics of web design using HTML. Students are encouraged to prepare their own short biographies for the About Us section, and are given a classroom demonstration on how to post their bios to the website.

The following poll is for all participants on the Digital Literacy for EFL Students course:

Please share your comments with us!

Week 4 – Building Audience

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Building audience is building trust!

“A great blog begins with the content you create, but to be successful a blog also needs a strong community or audience. The members of your community will follow your blog by giving you a permission to send them updates.”  The Complete Guide to Building Your Blog Audience

Now, how can you make your contents suit the interests of your audience?

Take a look at the Complete Guide to Building Your Blog Audience Chapter 1 for professional advice on blogging and building audience. This could be very useful for young bloggers in the future!

In order to build audience you should know the interests of your followers, as well as their level of understanding for the specific topic you are writing about. It is always nice to explain some technical vocabulary in case the reader gets in touch with your topic for the first time.

You should also promote your blog contents on the social networks, but this is something we will be discussing further in our Digital Literacy for EFL Students course.

Hashtags have become a very useful tool when it comes to reaching wider audience not just on Twitter, but also on Facebook, Instagram, and many other social networks. People do click on them to discover new content from new sources. Therefore, choose your hashtags wisely!

Emails are very important when it comes to building a community for your blog. An email list is a good way to keep in touch with your followers. It is something you own and something you can control.

You should provide regular updates to your contents on your blogs! Makes sure that the information you share is valid and reliable!

So, guys! Your task this week is to focus on the most popular social networks and promote the contents of your blogs there. Which networks do you use? Have you got an account on Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Google+? Pinterest? Snapchat? Or any other?

Do you usually use hashtags? How do you choose the tag words? Do you have a strategy for that? Do you check the contents available on the hashtags?

Please share your ideas as comments!