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Grabbing Great Media for Classroom Use
by Bernard Gorman and Shepard Gorman

We wear many hats in our professional and private lives. Because one of the authors (annonymous, but still a Gorman) has four heads, this is especially true. Despite this oddity, we spend a great deal of our time teaching courses in psychology. There are many exciting trends in basic research, medicine, genetics, and social policies that have powerful impacts on modern psychology. The field we entered decades ago changes on a daily basis. We love to share the excitement of our profession with our students.  Unlike fields like tool-and-die making, steam-fitting, cost accounting, or shoe repair,  psychology and psychiatry get plenty of radio, TV, and Internet media coverage. If we’re clever enough, we can grab some media for use in our courses.

 At the outset, we’ve got to mention that broadcast and Internet media are intellectual properties and copyright laws regulate their use. However, under the doctrine of Fair Use, you may legally use these media in your classes under certain conditions. With this caveat, let’s talk about “getting the good stuff” for our classes.

 As we see it, the easiest way to get current TV broadcasts is through the use of standalone DVD recorders. Although the price of recorders was prohibitive a decade ago, you can now buy very decent recorders in the $100 range and spectacular recorders for less than $300. Like the VHS recorders that preceded them, many DVD recorders have tuners and timers and all of them have composite RCA jack inputs (yellow, red, and white cables) for connections to cable boxes and VHS recorders.  The fancier recorders often allow you to connect a digital video camera to your recorders via a Firewire (IEE-1394 or I-link) cable. Some DVD recorders have input and output connections to S-video, high-definition (HDMI) and component video sources. Personally, we’ve enjoyed recorders made by Phillips, LiteOn, and Panasonic.

 Most recorders can insert chapter marks at convenient intervals (e.g. 2 minutes, 5 minutes, etc.), so you can easily skip forwards and backwards through a program. All recorders can read DVD+R, DVD-R, DVD-RW, and DVD+RW  disc formats while some can record in all four DVD formats and even to CD’s.

 If you’re recording a program that has no commercials, then you can enjoy the full program as soon as recording stops. On the other hand (Bernie prefers his left hand), if you want to do some editing to remove advertisements and irrelevant material, you might want to re-author your DVD with software like Video-REDO (www.videoredo,com )  Some recorders allow you to do some simple editing in the reorders itself. To be honest, we’ve never found this process to be easy.  We’ll discuss editing in future articles.

 In recent years, the use of streaming, on-demand video services has exploded on the Internet scene. Among the most popular ones are Google Video and YouTube. Many YouTube productions are amateurish and silly but some golden nuggets are buried in the labyrinths of the YouTube vaults. YouTube videos can be uploaded in many formats but all YouTube video is stored in a format knows as Flash Video Format (FLV). YouTube videos are not easy to download. However, through the use of software on sites like www.keepvid.com and www.saveyoutube.com., or free software like Ashampoo YouTube Clip Finder (http://www2.ashampoo.com), you can download FLV files and convert them to other vide formats.  Some, but not all, of Google Videos can be rapidly downloaded in MPEG4 formats for use in Apple IPOD’s or other portable media players.

 Although Google owns both YouTube and Google Video, the offerings of Google Video have a more serious tone.  You’ll find some excellent university-based lectures and documentaries, including Google’s own Tech Talks and the Technology, Education and Design Foundation’s TED Talks. Many, but not all, of the Google videos can also be downloaded in formats that are directly useable in portable video players.

The Moving Image Archive (http://www.archive.org/details/movies) provides another rich source of material. Thousands of public domain documentaries, feature films, and cartoons can be downloaded from there. Most are available in MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 and some are available in MPEG4 (H.264), DIVX, and Apple QuickTime formats. If you want to get your fill of such classics as “Duck and Cover,” the Cold War air raid drill film, “Reefer Madness,” a remarkably inaccurate anti-marijuana film, and “Night of the Living Dead,” the prototype of all zombie movies, then this place is for you.

 The Library of Congress (www.loc.gov) has an ample collection of historical film footage.  You’ll find many historic newsreels  and speeches as well as some of Thomas Edison’s first films here

 Most people think of ITUNES (www.apple.com/itunes/) as a place for downloading popular music. However, ITUNES has thousands of free podcasts in both audio (MP3) and video formats. While it’s difficult to get students to listen to audio material in the classroom, you might consider distributing these as MP3’s or audio CD’s.

 Finally, some school systems subscribe to streaming TV services such as EdVideo Online (www.powermediaplus.com), Teacher’s Domain (www.teachersdomain.org), and Disvoery Education Streaming (http://streaming.discoveryeducation.com), which offer hundreds of documentary and instructional films, both as streaming video and as downloadable files. If you’re an educator, you may have hit your mother lode with these sites.


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