Celebrate Innovative Practice with Documentary Filmmaking Techniques

Here are the resources to accompany my presentation at the ACAMIS Technology Conference Oct 19–20, 2018

The key take away is that it’s all about the story. To tell a story well think about light, audio and the video shots you’re getting.


Here are some general resources that I find useful.

Framing and Audio

NVW The Rule of Thirds

BBC’s Five Shot Rule

Smartphone Journalism: Video from the BBC Academy channel has many great tips for those of us that record video on our phones. This channel is stacked with great ideas

Smartphone journalism: Audio some of the software and hardware is a bit dated in this one but it has some good ideas for audio techniques

Smartphone filming has some tips covered in some of the other videos I’ve already listed but it’s a very good general how-to video

People to Watch

Casey Neistat’s Make It Count
Hey Indie Film Makers Podcast with Griffin Hammond and Nick Bodmer
Peter McKinnon on Jessie Driftwood

Microsoft Sway: Quickstarter

Microsoft’s Sway has a new feature called Quickstarter. To use it one types in a general topic and Sway creates an outline complete with images.

This has huge implications for how we teach writing. Thinking about and organizing a topic is where much of the learning actually happens. That’s where the higher level thinking takes place.

What will happen if we hand that higher level thinking over to an algorithm? My concern is that it will cause shallow thinking–allowing for the algorithm to regurgitate “facts” clipped from webpages rather than the synthesis of information from multiple sources by the student—a process which allows for the student to make unique connections between sources and experiences and therefore, create understanding.

Michael Fullan: Drivers

Recently my colleagues and I read Michael Fullan’s Choosing the Wrong Drivers for Whole School Reform and I find myself thinking about it often. Specifically, Fullan states that the right drivers must,

  1. foster intrinsic motivation of teachers and students;
  2. engage educators and students in continuous improvement of instruction and learning;
  3. inspire collective or team work
  4. affect all teachers and students

I’ve been thinking of these as I assess what I do in my practice. If find them a useful mental checklist.

Chris Breen on MacWorld: Parenting and Ignore No More

Recently, I wrote about helping kids manage their digital devices. Since then I have listened to Chris Breen on the MacWorld Podcast talk about a new Android app called Ignore No More. I thought his views were balanced and worth sharing here. I encourage you to listen to the podcast in it’s entirety but here are his thoughts in a nutshell:

  • he doesn’t feel an app like Ignore No More is necessary for most families–nothing beats good parenting
  • It’s better to talk to your kids about their tech use than use an app like this
  • if a child is distracted by technology, have the child do his/her homework in the room where the parent is
  • have a child put his/her phone away during times that it’s not needed or is potentially distracting i.e. homework or family time
  • active parenting is better than imposing a technical fix to a situation in most circumstances
  • Ignore No More may be helpful in extreme circumstances but he’s hopeful that good parenting skills will be sufficient for most people

He starts talking about the app at 18:33
His views about parenting and use of Ignore No More start around 23:40

Office 365 Update

The EdTech Facilitators all joined our new pilot site. It went well. It takes a little time to get used to the way Microsoft lays things out and their vocabulary for things. I am used to working in WordPress so it takes a little while to learn the terms Microsoft uses to do the things I am used to in WordPress.

The impression so far is good. We have created and edited some Word documents collaboratively. The web interface is good and responsive. We were able to have four people editing a Word document simultaneously without any glitches.

We are still getting used to where the documents are stored. They can be saved to our team’s site or in an individual’s OneDrive and shared from there. We still need to work out the best way for sharing of documents.

Trialing Office 365 for Education

We started testing Office 365 for Education this week. Reps from Microsoft met with us. As I mentioned in my previous post, we have outlined our needs as:

  • something highly collaborative
  • individual and team document management
  • shared word processor, spreadsheet etc
  • a tool that allows for a high level of user autonomy

They set up a trial site for us with an Office 365 for Education account. Over the next couple of weeks I will try to post about our experiences.


  • Office 365 for education has not launched yet in China. They didn’t give us a firm date for the launch but they expect it to be Nov 2014
  • currently the servers for Office 365 are in Hong Kong and Singapore. When it launches in China they will be in Beijing and Shanghai. Office 365 will not be hosted by Microsoft but by a partner company.

Finding Alternative to Google Apps for Education

For several years now we have been looking for a space that students and teachers can work collaboratively. It’s a challenge here in China. As schools outside of China have adopted Google Apps for Education we’ve had to watch from the sidelines. It’s an unenviable position to be in. Sometimes it feels that others are moving ahead and we’re stuck unable to give the students the collaborative experiences they need and unable to work in an efficient way ourselves.

Recently we started looking at GAE alternatives and have identified the following:

We have outlined our needs as:

  • something highly collaborative
  • individual and team document management
  • shared word processor, spreadsheet etc
  • a tool that allows for a high level of user autonomy

Helping Kids Manage Their Gadgets

It’s the start of a new school year. I love the start of each year. Though I’ve been through this many times before, it’s all new for the kids. Each year holds so much promise.

Each year we welcome new students to our school and hand them a MacBook to use as part of their learning. The school owns the MacBooks but basically it’s the student’s. He or she has almost complete control of the machine. I encourage them to take them and make them their “learning device.” Of course they use it for much more than just school stuff but that’s okay. That’s fine as long as what they do does not get in the way of their learning.

Kids need to learn to manage digital devices. It doesn’t matter if the school gives them a laptop or they have one from home or they have an iPhone or iPad. They need to learn to deal with the pull devices have on their attention. That’s where we as teachers and parents come in. We have a number of parent coffees and parent workshops on “managing devices” but here are the main ideas in a nutshell–some simple things to keep in mind when teaching kids to manage digital devices:

  • Kids need to learn to manage their attention. Gadgets aren’t going away. They need to pay attention to their intention when they turn on their gadgets.
  • Parenting isn’t easy. It’s a full time commitment.
  • Families need to have clear and fair expectations for tech use in their home.
  • When your child doesn’t meet your expectations back them up with action. The action should be fair and consistent. It doesn’t need to be harsh but it needs to be there.

(Re)defining multimedia journalism

In my surfing last night I came across (Re)defining multimedia journalism. It explains how “multimedia” is more than just video. It’s the blending of text, graphics, video and coding to tell “a story.”
Pretty amazing ways to “tell a story.” Someone with all of these multimedia skills will be able to help in a variety of fields–journalism, business or education.