For many educators--particularly those teaching at primary or secondary schools--integrating computer-based instruction into their classrooms is challenging. Many schools have perhaps one computer per classroom and one computer lab for all classes.
Many more classrooms have TVs and DVD players. Unlike VHS videotape, computers today allow educators to easily create lesson and activity specific DVD resources. DVDs can bring any sort of rich multimedia that can be built into a web resource: all easily ported from class to class to class in the pocket or bag of any teacher.
If your personal computer running Windows or Macintosh has an optical drive that can write DVDs, you can create them for your class. Bundled on these machines is usually some free software that allows users to create polished DVD interfaces, load photo slide shows, and build navigation menus.
If you aren't inclined to create an elaborate DVD interface you can usually place your materials in a folder and then burn them directly onto a DVD. Your computer will create a basic interface with a thumbnail image of each item you added.
In terms of the video clips themselves, try to keep clips to less than 20 minutes (10 minutes is even better). Showing several shorter clips rather than one long one is more engaging for students. It also makes it easier to manage activities throughout the clips: end each clip where the accompanying activity goes.
Standard DVD-R hold up to 4.7GB of data, which translate to approximately 2 hours of video. There are also high-density 9.4GB DVD-R, though not all DVD burners can burn "double density" DVDs. In most instances a standard DVD-R is more than adequate.
All Macintosh computers come bundled with iDVD as part of the iLife suite of applications. iDVD includes a number of pre=designed themes. Once a theme is selected, users drag-and-drop each multimedia file (or folder of photos for a slide show) directly onto the Drop Zone in the iDVD interface. iDVD creates a preview mini-clip of each item, similar to those found on professionally produced DVDs.
DVD Burning basics
Creating a DVD for teaching requires (in addition to a computer with a DVD burner):
- A complete lesson plan
- Gathering of multimedia for the DVD
- Ensuring all multimedia are fully produced (including any editing)
- Organizing your materials within a folder hierarchy
- Having several burnable DVDs available: use DVD-R- (minus), since DVD-R+ won't play on some DVD players, particularly older ones
By preparing these in advance, producing the actual DVD should take a few minutes--however long it takes your burner to write and verify (check) your new disc.
Once you have burned your DVD, test it in a DVD player rather than your computer. Play the entire disc to ensure that there have been no malfunctions: anytime you process digital media there is a chance files could corrupt. Make sure the sound is clear.
If your disc tested OK burn a backup copy and then test that.
If any of your files corrupted during the burn, go back to those files and see if it was a burning error or the file itself is the issue.
For this activity you will need:
- A computer with a DVD burner
- 2 or more DVD-R (+ or -, though we recommend -)
- At least one digital video file
- A folder with a collection of digital photos to create a slide show
To start, find the DVD burning software on your computer. For Macintosh computers it will be iDVD; for Windows it will vary, depending on the manufacturer of your machine.
- Once you find the software launch it.
- If given the option, look at the various themes available and select one for your DVD
- Save your DVD project, using the full name of the activity or lesson (since many burners will append this file name to the Title of the final DVD)
- Drag and drop a video onto your project
- Give the video a user-friendly title instead of the file name.
- Drag and drop your folder of images to the interface
- Give this folder a user-friendly name
Repeat the process until you have your DVD finalized.
Now burn your DVD. There may be a button in your upper or lower tool bar, or you may have to the File menu. When the DVD is burned and verified, test it in a DVD player.
Write an entry for your course weblog about your experience here (on your "Home" page and posting a new entry). How labour intensive was the process? What worked well? What was challenging? What surprised you?