150 years ago, a classroom was set up as so: a teacher stood at the front, normally writing on a blackboard, and lectured to a captive, passive classroom who were expected to be silent and attentive. Despite a massive technological and societal change since then, this paradigm in the classroom, in many cases, hasn’t changed nearly as quickly.
Even in 2017, there are millions of students still sitting passively being lectured to and studies show that it doesn’t work. This isn’t the only way to teach, however, and there is a growing movement in teaching practice to adopt 21st Century teaching ideas.
What are these ideas though, how can you measure how deeply they are already incorporated in your classroom, and where can you still improve?
Knowing, understanding and using technology in the classroom is essential today. Student’s lives are filled with tech, from the moment they wake up they are on their smartphones, and it’s likely the last thing they’ll see before they sleep as well. Modern students are plugged in, and to better understand how they learn, and to be able to connect with them, you need to be plugged in too.
Bring tech into your classroom, and let your students learn actively, the way that they’ve grown up with. Things like smart-boards and virtual learning environments are key parts of a modern classroom, and allow teachers and students to work in the same space, rather than being divided.
Teaching isn’t just about data any more. The influx of the internet and tech means that you are no longer just imparting knowledge to your students. They can find out anything they want, anytime, from anywhere. What you instead need to focus on is helping them engage with this vast amount of knowledge in a constructive way.
Critical Thinking is one of the most important skills a young mind can be taught to have in this day and age, as is the ability to analyse what parts of information are useful and why. Your role as a teacher in the 21st Century is to help give them the life skills they’ll need in our rapidly advancing world.
Encouraging collaboration is an increasingly important compnent of modern learning. The individualism that once dominated the theories of learning is slowly giving way to the realisation that students and teachers work better when they’re working together.
Collaborative projects will almost always be better than ones tackled alone, and showing your students that can be incredibly valuable. In a world where society is changing, but its divides are deeper than ever, every experience that they’re better off working together rather than against one other is priceless lesson.
Just as they are students of life, so are you, and acknowledging that and learning from your classes as your students learn from you, can teach you lessons you’ll never find anywhere else.
Adaptability is a hallmark of any good educator in the 21st century. The ability to stay flexible and amenable to change in a world that’s advancing faster than ever before will ensure you continue to be a positive influence in your student’s lives.
This, like anything, will require work, but when a teacher is knowledgeable and sensitive to issues that matter to their students, it can nurture a respect that otherwise might never exist.
Being forward looking, at the end of the day, is perhaps the most important part of the equation here. Not only for yourself, but for your students too. Recognise that they are a generation that faces many uphill battles once they are out into the world, including economic stagnation, high unemployment and salaries that are no longer keeping up with cost of living.
Try to set your students up to be armed with the skills and knowledge they can actually use in the world they will live in, and you’ll have given them something they’ll always be thankful for.
Hopefully these ideas have helped you, but we know that the reality of a classroom is different from the ideal one. To that end, and to better understand that reality, we have a short survey that we’ve put together to see just how technology is being used in the
Who remembers the monkey who took a selfie of himself on a nature photographer’s camera in 2011? It was a story that surely popped up on your social media platform of choice at the time, then promptly disappeared into the depths of the internet with Grumpy Cat and Chocolate Rain and everything else that was huge until it wasn’t .
Despite it disappearing from public view, the picture went on to have a rather interesting post-fame story. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) filed a lawsuit in the US to give Naruto, the monkey who took the picture, “[the] right to own and benefit from the copyright … in the same manner and to the same extent as any other author.”.
Essentially, they wanted Naruto here to be able to own copyright of the picture he took. To what benefit isn’t entirely clear (what’s a monkey going to do with royalty money?), but it did raise an interesting question. Where do we draw the line with copyright? Do animals have the right to own things they technically make themselves?
In answer to the latter question, as reported in the Guardian and later in the Independant, US District Judge William Orrick ruled that Naruto can’t own the copywrite to the picture. Not exactly a Disney ending, but we’re pretty sure Naruto would have been just as happy with an extra-juicy mango!
Lenses can be a complex and confusing part of filmmaking for new students. There are so many variables and pieces of jargon to learn, and knowing which lens to use for which shot can be mind boggling at first. Thankfully though, there are some easy ways to teach the basics of what different lenses do, and why they do it, and we’ve put together a simple exercise for you to try with your students. It’s dealing with the basics, so it’s maybe best not to do it with advanced students, but even so, it’s useful knowledge no matter what.
The exercise will deal with giving your students information on what the different types of lenses do in relation to field of view, which is essentially how much stuff you can fit into frame, and which lens fits which shot.
● Ultra-Wide-Angle – Focal Length 16-23mm. Even wider than wide-angle, these lenses give a dramatic sense of distance by exaggerating the space between the foreground and the background. Great for highlighting objects close up, or for giving that “fly on the wall” documentary feel as they move smoothly.
● Wide-Angle Lenses – Focal Length less than 35mm. These lenses give a field of view wider than the human eye. They’re great for master shots as they can fill the shot with information without any distortion at the edges
● Standard Lenses – Focal Length 35-70mm. These lenses provide a field of view that’s very similar to the human eye. They’re great for natural looking perspectives such as medium and head-and-shoulders shots, but tend to be distorted at close range and can’t focus too well at long range.
● Telephoto Lenses – Focal Length above 70mm. The field of view of these lenses is narrower than the human eye. They’re great for isolating subjects from the background and making them stand out. Also useful for flattening perspective, which makes portrait shots look better. Most modelling shoots are done on these lenses.
Find a variety of shots from famous films shot on these different lenses, and ask your students, using the information on the lenses provided, to match the lens to the shot. It’s a fun little test that will not only get them thinking about what lenses do, but also can open up the discussion about what effect using those lenses has on the cinematic narrative of the film.
How does the director’s lens choice change how we see what’s in the frame? What are they drawing our eye towards? What information are they trying to include, or exclude?
If you want more information, this brilliant video by Youtube creator Darious Britt can give you everything you need and more:
Gone are the days where smartphone cameras would take grainy, out-of-focus snaps that only worked under the midday sun. With the advent of high quality cameras in our smartphones, however this is a thing of the past, and an entire industry has popped up in support of giving smartphone photography accessories to make it even better.
The iPhone has always been the frontrunner with camera quality, and the iPhone 7 is no exception with its unique and buzz generating dual camera system that has separate lenses for wide-angle and telephoto pictures. Now it’s been out in the wilds for a little while, the folks at KAMERAR are the first to bring third party accessories to the table with a dual lens, snap on lens kit. It looks like something that any budding photographer, or film-maker for that matter, will want to get their hands on.
Called the Kamerar ZOOM lens kit, it features:
- A snap on mounting case that also acts as a protective case for the phone,
- A Fisheye/Telephoto combo lens
- A Macro lens that uses both of the cameras to take high quality Macro shots
The cool thing is that you don’t need any glue or special mounting points on the phone to attach the lenses a la the iPhone 6. Instead there’s a slot which the lenses slide into and lock into place, which then means you can change them in a matter of moments. This, obviously, expands the already wide possibilities of the iPhone 7’s photo capabilities, but, it also allows it to become quite a viable little film camera too.
Youtube link to the product demo ad:
With the ability to snap lenses on and off quickly, the Kamarer Zoom bring a huge range of potential visual options at your fingertips and a real ability to push your smartphone film-making to the next level. Imagine being able to switch between a wide angle fish eye shot and a close-up macro within just a couple of seconds, and the creative possibilities that brings. All of this, and only $45.
As, however, this is the first accessory of its kind to use the dual camera system, it might be worth waiting to see how other manufacturers approach the problem. Still, it’s an interesting step towards empowering budding film-makers with many of the tools that used to be so far out of their reach due to price and bulk, and it’s almost a guarantee that sooner rather than later, someone will be using this kit to make something that most of us never even thought possible.
Teaching young filmmakers can be a tricky business. It’s a huge discipline that requires knowledge of a wide range of mediums, and a combination of practical skills unlike anything else. Not only that, but the media industry, as a general rule, is a hard one to break into. What can you offer them now that will be most useful down the line?
Here are our top 5 suggestions to start you off:
1. Keep Creating
When it comes to applying for jobs in the industry, entering competitions, or just to see how far they’ve come, having an expansive showreel is only going to be a benefit for a young filmmaker.
Not only will it show that they have the work ethic to consistently make new things, it also acts as a constant learning process that will teach them practical lessons which can’t be taught in the classroom.
2. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and fail
As Chuck Jones once said “Every artist has thousands of byoung filmad drawings in them, and the only way to get rid of them is to draw them out.” and this is true for filmmakers too. No great director, whether it was Spielberg, Nolan, Hitchcock or any other you care to name, started great.
They spent years making bad films, and every time they failed they learned a little more. That’s why you should emphasise that experimentation is a good thing. Even if it doesn’t work, the lesson learned through that failure will be invaluable.
Whether you see it as a bad thing or not, the film industry operates just as much on a “who you know” basis as a “what you know”. Any young filmmaker should be encouraged to make as many contacts as they can, both inside and out of the industry.
You never know when that one good conversation a few months ago could result in a phone call from someone in desperate need to fill a position, and then you’re in.
4. Try not to specialise too much
Despite every aspiring filmmaker having a dream job within the industry, and also areas they are good at, that shouldn’t stop them trying to learn as many different positions in the production chain as possible.
Just as knowing people can help them get an in, so can being able to put their hand abley to many different positions. Once they’re in, then they can move towards their dream job, but sometimes it means going in though the side door.
5. Perseverance is everything
Ultimately, getting a start in filmmaking is going to be an uphill battle. Your pupils will get knocked back more times than they’ll care to count, and you need to tell them that not only should they keep going, but it’s also just part of the process.
No one working in the creative industries today got there because they gave up at the first rejection. They tried again and again, taking multiple setbacks along the way, to the point
There’s a lot of mystery surrounding smartphones and their batteries. No one really knows how long to charge phones for – or whether it’s bad to leave it going overnight. However, someone has managed to do the maths on how much of your energy bill will be spent on charging for the average iPhone user. Digital Spy reports:
“There’s no fear of adding a significant chunk to the iPhone’s already lofty asking price just to keep it running. You can actually keep your iPhone charged for a year for less than £1. A lot less. We sh*t you not.”
Less than £1! Advanced lithium battery technology is to thank here. Don’t take our word for it, check out the maths in Digital Spy’s article. It’s easy to forget just how far efficient energy storage can take us.
2016 saw the UK’s first Tesla powerwall installed. This chunky battery aims to “revolutionise UK energy market by enabling people to store excess energy generated from rooftop solar panels.” As we move forwards into the new year – with our cheaply charging phones – expect energy storage to be at the forefront of futurology reportage.
Filmmakers are subject to a very real and scary threat because their cameras do not include encryption. Having un-encrypted media seized is such a key threat that action is being taken by the Freedom of the Press Foundation. They have asked leading camera brands to release cameras with built-in encryption to protect their media. The only secure method that filmmakers and photojournalists have to protect their media is to load their work onto a computer with password-protected files. Being able to consistently load and protect work in the middle of filming isn’t always viable.
Filmmakers working with sensitive or private material live in fear of their media being confiscated. The seizure of cameras and film happens so often “that we could not realistically track all [the] incidents,” says Freedom of the Press Foundations activism director Courtney Radsch. Filmmakers and photojournalists often risk their lives to get groundbreaking footage of information and events. Frequently, there are people in direct opposition who do not want sensitive information to be released. Criminals, local police, or intelligence agents can seize memory cards or cameras, leaving the filmmaker empty handed and sometimes in danger. Filmmaker Andrew Berends was forced to swallow his SIM card to prevent police from identifying his informants in his documentation of the conflict in the Niger Delta. Many filmmakers and photojournalists have gone to extremes to protect their media, none of which would be necessary with encrypted cameras.
The Freedom of the Press Foundation is taking action by appealing to leading camera brands such as Canon, Fuji, and Nikon, to come out with encrypted still photo and video cameras. They have written a letter explaining the necessity and 150 filmmakers and photojournalists have signed it. Some of the signees include Academy Award nominees such as Laura Poitras and Joshua Oppenheimer.
Smartphones such as the iPhone come standard with encryption, so it’s easy to see how the next step will be adding this feature to cameras but some technical kinks are still being ironed out. Cameras will need more powerful processors and the issue of physical limitations of buttons to type in passwords will need to be addressed. While no encrypted cameras exist on the market as of yet, this move would be a much needed security feature for filmmakers and photojournalists alike.
Steven Soderbergh, director of such films as Contagion, Erin Brockovich, and the Ocean’s Trilogy, has a unique take on how much information the audience should be given, and how much they shouldn’t. Soderbergh ignores the classic tropes of filmmaking and strives to present information to the audience in new and exciting ways.
Audiences are getting better at picking up on minute details and inferring outcomes. However, many filmmakers still feel they should lay all of the information out for you. This often makes things drab and predictable for the audience, to be told or shown things that they already know. Soderbergh takes a new approach.
While he strives to show everything in a new unique way, he also cuts out any spoon-feeding. Declan Taaffe from Writing With The Camera uses the example of a character walking into an office and speaking with a character. These shots are so common they are ingrained into our mind. Establishing shot of office building > wide shot of room > over-the-shoulder > close up on face. The dialogue follows the same tropes, with the character behind the desk giving introduction as to who they are followed by the newcomer proposing a question or terms. These little details and shots are effective – we know who everyone is and what they want. However, Soderbergh thinks giving all of this information is unnecessary. Instead, as shown in a similar bank scene in Ocean’s 11, he sets the camera in one spot and that’s it. Character states their business. Done. Soderbergh ignores all of the classic film techniques and shows just what he needs to show to keep the movie going.
As Soderbergh puts it, he tries to “be more adventurous and release information in a way that’s less traditional.” And less traditional he is. Known for cutting out establishing shots, removing unneeded dialogue, and splicing between important scenes with no filler in-between, Soderbergh still manages to showcase what’s most important in a film: the story.
In his efforts to give audiences character and scene information in new ways, Soderbergh has racked up both extremely positive (Behind The Candelabra, 2013) and negative reviews (The Good German, 2006). Bending the traditional way that stories are told doesn’t always work out, and sometimes the audience is looking for just a bit more information to be displayed. Soderbergh’s successes are extraordinary though, showing the necessity to take a risk and break the barriers of traditional storytelling.
All teachers know that one of the hardest things to do is getting your students re-motivated after a big break. If three day weekends weren’t hard enough – a big break like the winter holiday can often seem to take away any hope of students reengaging in their studies. Luckily, it’s not impossible to get students back on track and it can be made easier with some creativity on your part.
Having your students come in, sit at their tables, and get straight back to the grind does nothing for them and can often cause behaviour or attention problems. Our brain constantly receives large amounts information. To counteract this, it puts a filter on incoming sensory information. It then gives priority to information that is out of the ordinary, or: new.
The first thing your students want to do when they get back is talk with their friends about everything they’ve been up to. Their brains are attracted to new things right? So it’s no wonder that seeing their friends after so long and having so many new stories to tell is at the forefront of their thoughts. Use this to your advantage. Spend a period allowing students to speak about their holidays with creative restrictions. For example, let them share stories from their break but they must also talk about a kind act that they saw or performed.
In order for a learning environment to function properly, the students must not only be listening to what you say but also retaining the information given. You need their full attention. As neurologist Judy Willis states, “you can use strategies to make sure the sensory information you provide (through what you say, show, do, or have them experience through physical movement) gets through their attention filters.” Here is where the creativity on your part comes in. Things need to be different in the classroom to hit that hot button in the brain that says things are new and exciting. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started. They may seem simple but science says they work.
Physically change things around. Why not reorganise the classroom over the break so that students come back to something completely different? Perhaps have exciting new posters or pictures on the wall pertaining to the unit or activity they are about to begin. Place hints around the classroom that have to do with the new unit, but don’t address them so students are left wondering.
Verbal cues for attention. The brain is naturally drawn to things that are unknown or curious. Leaving a mid-sentence pause followed by important information is a great way to tune every brain in the room into what you’re about to say. As an added bonus, it can increase the likelihood that the brain will retain the memory of what you say or do after the pause.
Changes in movement. Take something ordinary like writing a lesson plan on the board and do something unique with it. Judy Willis suggests walking backwards to get their attention. Another suggestion is having a few students each write part of the lesson plan. Just make sure the usual routine is turned on its head for a new and exciting stimulus.
Rotate. A great way to really shake things up is to change the seating arrangement. To make things a bit more interesting, why not hand out a riddle or a joke at the door and have the answer sitting on the desk. Make them look and wonder which desk is theirs.
Political and social revolutions all over the world are coming to a head, causing some pretty significant changes in the film and media world. Most of these have been brewing for a while as key issues like discrimination and diverse representation are becoming more prevalent in culture and media alike. 2017 is set to be a big year for the film industry to embody the emotions of the public and shine a light on injustices everywhere. There are tons of predictions about what will be hot in filmmaking over the next year. We’ve narrowed it down and summarised some pretty extensive lists for you (such as JWT Intelligence’s “Future 100”) so you can hop right into the important trends.
Recently, the trope of the leading role belonging to a Straight White Man has been changing. In the past, films that featured a strong leading female were praised for their bravery. These films are now becoming the norm. Baptiste Charles-Aubert from Raindance claims, “We’re in the age of female characters not necessarily being ‘liberated’ or ‘vehemently independent’: they just had to [exist], beyond the now tired trope of being a ‘strong female character.’” While the role of the classic leading man will not suddenly disappear in 2017, the move towards equality between genders where roles are concerned is rising. People are frankly getting tired of the leading man. Critic’s choice movies, such as Mad Max and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, continue to show that that gender equality doesn’t affect the quality of a film.
It’s not just gender that’s getting a shake up. There was backlash in Hollywood last year regarding representation in films and at many awards ceremonies. 2017 will hopefully see some major improvement in the ethnic diversity of casts. Many indie filmmakers are already becoming more inclusive in their films and the rest of the industry is sure to follow as consumers demand more diverse films. BAFTA has even set a new diversity standard for movies, ensuring that films have on-screen representation, industry inclusion, and even accessibility to under-represented audiences. 2017 will bring a host of diverse casts to the big screen and taking part in this effort is an important political movement.
Technology is ever present and with the introduction of Virtual and Augmented Realities, it’s no wonder that new high tech devices such as VR are seeping into the filmmaking world. This trend is less about what’s included in films and more about the process. Technology needs to be embraced in the film industry. Distribution and consumption of film and media alike have changed and filmmakers are realizing they need to get with the times in order to keep up. Even simple iPhone videos are attracting the current audience. Why not create with VR? What about interactive media? This year is the time to use your resources on cutting edge affordable technologies.