Moving pictures: video narratives for multimodal literacy

Moving pictures: video narratives for multimodal literacy

Do you have a video resume? Have your students ever produced one? An increasing number of employers and recruiters rely on video resumes to short-list candidates. We say that our schools prepare students for the jobs of the 21st Century, but who is preparing students to produce compelling video resumes so they can secure those jobs? How do we best equip students to communicate visually? Do we have those skills to pass on?

Of course, video resumes are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to current demands for modern literacy. Our typical day can include critical evaluation of video-based news, the identification of fake news videos, and decisions to delete video-based Internet scams and unsavoury memes. Our students are increasingly producing videos ‘on the fly’ outside of school and sharing them socially. The problem comes if our students only communicate their learning at school through PowerPoint slides and word processing, yet see video communication as ‘a social thing’ they do after school.

The role of video in teaching and learning

Anyone can produce a video, but the knowledge and skills required in order to produce a compelling video story are very high. Visual literacy is rigorous, not a ‘creative’ nice-to-have. Film-making is a craft: a means of communicating in diverse contexts to different audiences for various purposes. Exemplary writing and speaking skills are a baseline for effective video creation. If you have never asked your students to create a video to express their ideas about a topic — any topic in any subject — watch what happens when you do. Your students will be driven to get their facts right, to sequence them correctly, to edit their script, and convey their message in a tone that is consistent with their purpose and audience. Your students will be challenged in the subject domain, not just in the video creation skills and techniques. For example, if they were creating a video on photosynthesis, their knowledge of the photosynthesis process becomes entwined with a range of visual literacy challenges. They will be thinking about what ideas can be conveyed through spoken narrative, through moving image or caption, and in what combination. As we then observe the students creating their photosynthesis videos, we will see that video creation has application across all year levels and subjects.

To effectively engage students in film making or video creation in the everyday classroom, we have to see video creation as a means of communicating, not an ends. Many educators will not have considered video creation as something that could or should happen in their classroom. For many, video creation is something that gets passed off to a digital media specialist running an elective course at a high school — something very technical that takes lots of time; something that would slow the class down when there is so much content to cover. This is a common thought process when we see video creation as an ends, not a means. Importantly, there are now many simple tools available to us that removes the time-consuming aspects of video production. Now, students’ time can be focussed on the subject topic at hand, and the challenge of communicating their ideas.

Read more about the role of video in teaching and learning.

Video in the Australian Curriculum

The Australian Curriculum includes many opportunities for students to develop and practise these skills and understandings. Students engage with, and create multimodal digital texts in English or in a different language. All the subject areas invite students to present their ideas, viewpoints and conclusions in a range of digital and non-digital modes, while the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Capability encourages students to create and communicate using ICT.

Scootle contains a range of resources and interactive tools for teachers and students looking to implement video creation in the classroom. Try searching on these terms: visual literacy; films; media arts; media production; visual storytelling.


New in Scootle: Binumi


Video is now arguably one of the most pervasive communication mediums of our time. Simplifying the creation process eases the demands on students’ technical skills, and shifts their focus to creating the narrative.

Binumi is an online application and mobile app designed to make classroom video creation as simple as creating a Word document or PowerPoint presentation. Scootle users have access to the video creation tool, along with a library of millions of quality, factual, openly-licensed video clips that you can search, browse, and mix with your own footage, free of charge.

Designed to remove all barriers to video creation in the classroom, Binumi provides a simple video editing tool that enables creators to sequence clips, add their voice and caption narratives, and insert effects. It also includes a private personal video portfolio and class video walls to post and share videos.

An optional, paid feature is the video assignment tool which enables teachers to tag the videos they create with their year level and subject area. With this feature, Binumi presents a handful of video assignment suggestions all aligned to the Australian Curriculum. You pick the one you want, and it goes out to each of the students in your class with all the supporting clips and instructions.

Try Binumi. See how simple it can be to create a video story as a teaching tool for your classroom.

Binumi is freely available to educators subscribed to Scootle, using the Tools and Resources tab on the Scootle website. There are also optional fee-based subscriptions available for student account creation.