Sunday, June 17, 2007

Safari Montage was the biggest success

When a teacher wants to jazz up a lesson to help students understand a concept, a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth .... ? This year our county (Baltimore County Publish Schools) provided a video on demand service (Safari Montage) for all schools.

Safari is very easy to use and because the videos are not streamed, the performance is excellent regardless of Internet bandwidth. The greatest feature of Safari is that you can search by topic, or content standard. Then you can zero in on the just the minute or two of video that supports your specific instructional objective. Our teachers have used video clips to help students learn about behavior of mosquitoes, the life cycle of a frog, what a seed needs to grow, healthy eating habits, and many other topics. The videos were high quality and each had metadata that decribed the appropriate grade level(s) for viewing the video.

In addition to the technical capabilities provided by the Safari Montage vendor, the county utilized a well-thought out rollout strategy. The rollout included on-site setup, system-wide professional development, technical support coordinated with the department of technology and follow-up via the library information services web portal, including an e-community of best practices.

I have introduced a lot of different technologies to my teachers, but this one took off the fastest. I wonder what made this innovation more successful than others. I'm sure the ease of use was an important factor, but I also feel it fit easily into the classroom teachers’ educational philosophy. In other words, it supported them as communicators of new knowledge. Basically, they already know how to apply videos in the "lecture" instructional model. I believe another positive factor was that for teachers with a large TV connected to their computer, they could use it directly in their classroom with minimal set up. Thus, the innovation was an efficient use of instructional time.

I hope as more technology integration approaches become available they will be adopted as quickly and broadly as Safari Montage. What innovations have been successful at your school?

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