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Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


Book review: ‘Digital Video – A manual for Language Teachers

By ltss, on 13 January 2017

This review has been contributed by Paul Sweeney, Instructional Designer, UCL Institute of Opthalmology.

Digital-Video-coverDigital Video – A manual for Language Teachers

Nik Peachey

Cost: £4.99

Format: iBook or PDF from http://peacheypublications.com/

Who is this book aimed at?

All teachers of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) also known as ELT and related disciplines of ESL and ESOL.

Anyone teaching languages to teens and adults

Questions any language teacher might ask before buying a resource book:

Will I learn something? Will it save me time? Will it become a useful addition to the (digital) bookshelf?

Answers: Yes, yes and yes

Questions for any language teacher might ask about buying an educational technology themed resource book:

Do I need a certain amount of experience in order to be able to make use of this? Or – for more advanced practitioners –  Is this only for beginners? Will I still learn something?

Answers: No, No, Yes

Why should I buy a book about exploiting digital video?

Because online video is an increasingly important part of everyday experience. Everyone is viewing and sharing more video than ever before. So what? There is also an ocean of text and images washing over us. The relevance to education is? The point is that most of us are already sufficiently empowered to deal with text and audio. Those of us who are so inclined can tweet, blog, Facebook, Instagram etc. to our heart’s content and many educators are taking advantage of a plethora tools to explore associated educational benefits. Video is different. Where to find resources (apart from YouTube)? What tools to use? What approaches to take? That is what this book offers help with.  Lots of resources, tools and techniques even the savvy may not have known about. Very practical suggestions, all linked to pedagogy and learning outcomes. There is no “tech for tech’s sake” here.

Is this only for English as a Foreign Language (EFL / ELT) teachers?

The resource reviews are more focussed on the core audience but the majority is of use to language teachers anywhere and quite a few sections of general interest to teachers of any subject where bringing video into the classroom and student creation of video offers potential.

I am less experienced with video or learning technologies. What does this book offer me?

  • Video tutorials (hosting a video online/ downloading videos / embedding videos in a webpage / muting audio / adding subtitles / creating QR codes / creating a video slideshow)NB you need to be online to access these.
  • Technical help in selecting editing tools and hosting sites
  • A clickable glossary throughout which picks up lots of the key digital terms – examples of words glossed – apps / applications / synchronous / asynchronous / target language / URL / QR code / LMS interlocutor / paradigm.
  • A good range of comprehension and creation activities to try out with step by step instructions.
  • A list of resource sites to explore.

How does this support more experienced teachers?

All of the above is useful for most audiences but experienced users can benefit from is a helpful overview to jump around easily. There are also sections on ‘cool tools’ and application reviews.

So far so positive. Any negatives?

  • For a higher education audience, the Approaches to Learning chapter (Chapter 4) may come across as simplistic although this does not detract from many of the sound points therein. The real value of the book is the tutorials, tools, sample tasks and resources.
  • The tutorial videos don’t work offline.
  • In this fast-moving environment, some of the tools and resources listed are no longer available. Three out of approximately twenty resources fall into this category.
  • Two out of the academic resources fall into this category at time of writing (November 2016) http://www.mobento.com and videosci.com. Also one of the kids resources www.videos.esl-for-kids.com

Anything else about this book?

In keeping with his frontier-gazing, guru status in some circles, the author adopted what he termed a Publishing 3.0 approach https://nikpeachey.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/publishing-30-new-model-for-independent.html. Firstly he used crowd-funding to sign up a number of guaranteed readers in advance – which also explains why there is a discreet sponsor stamp on each page.  Secondly he self-published which inevitably led to a few rough edges but for £4.99 who is arguing?

And finally

Coincidentally, this is the second excellent book on the subject produced for the EFL / ELT sector recently.  Language Learning with Digital Video (Cambridge University Press) is an excellent addition to this new field and, like the Nik Peachey book, has won an award or two.

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