Student Video Cameras
The immense popularity of YouTube, high-speed internet, and user-created video has affected everything from politics to entertainment to popular culture; the phrase “in the age of YouTube” has become a clich?. This trend has also contributed to the rise of a new class of “mini-camcorders” in the consumer market—in the same way that the pervasiveness of MP3 audio files enabled the rise of the iPod. These stripped-down video cameras make up for their lack of professional features, such as sophisticated focus or zoom capabilities, by offering extremely affordable prices, pocket-sized portability, point-and-shoot ease of use, and integrated USB ports to enable simple uploading to a computer or the Internet.
All of these features have made these cameras appealing to educators, many of whom have purchased such cameras for their students to use in projects and reports, on field trips, or in a variety of other creative ways. PBS and YouTube, for example, partnered to sponsor the “Video Your Vote” project in November and distributed lesson plans and cameras to high school classes around the country, which filmed and submitted their own video reports about the voting process. Other new video project lesson plans and curricula are appearing continually from a variety of organizations, helping teachers better incorporate video into the education of the “YouTube Generation.” Here are just a few of the many options to consider using in your district.
PURE DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES
Flip Video Mino, $179.99
Pure Digital was one of the first makers of minicamcorders. Weighing just three ounces and smaller than most cell phones, its new Mino is the most portable video camera in its Flip series. 2GB of onboard flash memory store up to 60 minutes of video, a 1.5-inch display enables instant viewing, and simple buttons allow users to record, view and delete video clips. An internal four hour lithium-ion battery is recharged via the built-in flip-out USB arm, which also enables instant editing and sharing on a computer. www.theflip.com
The Kodak Zi6 is a good example of the rapidly improving resolution and image quality of these mini-camcorders, filming at a full 60 frames-per-second, 720p HD video resolution with a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio. The Zi6 also includes an expandable SD/SDHC card slot, rechargeable AA batteries with charger, slow motion playback capability, a 2.4-inch LCD display screen and editing software. Included cables allow users to watch their videos directly on an HD television, or video content can be easily uploaded to a PC via USB cable. This model can also capture and store still digital images. www.kodak.com
Small Wonder EZ201, $129
Like the Flip Mino, RCA’s Small Wonder offers a similar pocket-sized design, has onboard memory that stores up to 60 minutes of video and a flip-out USB arm, and uses simple, point-and-shoot controls. But it also includes a flip-out display screen to enable users to film themselves easily and an SD card slot to allow for expanded memory capacity. The EZ201 also uses AA batteries instead of an installed rechargeable battery, which allows for battery changes when away from a computer for extended periods. Additional features include a choice of standard or high-resolution video quality, USB and TV/AV output cables, carrying case and wrist strap. www.mysmallwonder.com
Digital Movie Creator 3.0, $119.95
Digital Blue has designed cameras specifically for K12 students and has a partnership with Freshi (“fresh eye”) FilmWorx, an education video project curriculum organization, to provide cameras in various packages for schools. These simple and easy-to-use cameras include a USB dock, video editing software, flip-out LCD screen and SD card slot. The USB dock allows students to stream video directly into their PCs when connected without using battery power. These cameras are available alone or with a variety of state-specific, standards-based curriculum kits from Freshi in all grade levels and seven core subject areas. www.digiblue.com, www.freshifilmworx.com