Why showing movies in class is a good thing

I think this debate has raged on with educators since we've had those filmstrips teachers used to feed into the projectors.  Should we or should we not use movies or video as an educational tool?   If we do, how should these tools be used to gain the most benefit to the learner? 


As we engage with our "digital natives" in the classroom, who walk around daily with gaming devices and iPhones while logging countless hours on their Xbox 360s, it is clear that these technologies are fundamental parts of their lives (and  ours), so in my view embracing this trend is a must, with the challenge to us of guiding the use and application of these tools toward the learning goals we set.


This week Microsoft released a new version of Windows Live Movie Maker available free for download.  The goals of the new version of this popular tool is to make it easier to turn videos and photos into great-looking movies and slideshows.  It accepts just about any camera type and file format on the market today.  The other interesting tidbit about MovieMaker is that it is used by 35% of students worldwide, which I believe is a testament to the product's goals of being easy to use and enabling students and teachers to create professional looking movies and videos.


One of the key enhancements that teachers and students will like is the sharing capability. Once a movie is complete, it can be easily shared with other teachers, students or even friends and family across TV, PC or mobile device or by uploading them to video-sharing sites like YouTube or TeacherTube.


Perhaps the big question is:  so what?   Why do I want to bring this into my classroom?


When I think about the use of digital photos or images, this is a great opportunity for students to show what they’ve learned in a visual and auditory way, producing and demonstrating their learning.  Not to mention the level of engagement you will achieve simply by the fact that you’re asking them to create a movie.


For social studies teachers, this could mean assembling images from a point in history or around a significant event you've been studying and producing a movie that demonstrates the key turning points of these events.  These images could also be put to music of the period or perhaps  you challenge students to find a modern song that might have a similar theme (we know they love their music!).  The Library of Congress has an amazing Digital Collection as a starting point.


For language arts, students could take on roles of characters in a book and act out an important scene, and the rubric used could emphasize the need to embody the character's personality, motivations and while incorporating important quotes from the book.  Students would need to produce scripts, organize their group and "produce and direct" this movie, and you can only imagine how they will enjoy seeing themselves on the Big Screen as the culminating achievement - this is real project-centered, student-driven learning, using a fun and easy to use tool like Windows Live Movie Maker.


Lots of great ideas out there for applying MovieMaker in the classroom, in a quick search (and yes, I BING'ed it), there are great resources across all subjects:



As we think about the use of videos and movies in the classroom, when the students are producing the movies you can (almost) not go wrong, and I have to believe they will be engaged and motivated to participate (never a bad thing).  I would love to hear other ideas of creative lesson or project ideas?   Please comment and I will compile a list.





Rob Bayuk

 K-20 Educator Marketing Manager, Microsoft

Follow me on Twitter @TeachTec

Comments (1)

  1. David Wicks says:

    Hi Rob,

    This is great news.  I love to hear that Microsoft is making tools that will integrate easily with YouTube and Teacher Tube.  Thanks for keeping everyone out in Twitterville aware of what you all are doing.

    David Wicks


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