Reflecting on the value of video testimonials

Greek sculptures

Greek sculptures representing the ancient Greek canon.

As I was roaming the hallways at #Educon, trying to find the perfect stories to capture for my Ed. D. project, a couple of things emerged. As much as I wanted to get people to say certain things a certain way, nobody really was a perfect fit for my cannon open learner, or “PLNer”. But everyone had a part of the story, and every story had an extra layer or a different direction I didn’t always anticipate.

I am very grateful to have seven new stories in my back pocket (actually on my Youtube channel and on my (potential) Ed. D. project site) that I can use to relate to a wide variety of audiences, as needed. I’m going to be offering a training on personal learning networks to UD staff and faculty at the end of the month, and I have no doubt that some of these stories will come in handy (I’ll stream the event as well, so that all of you can attend remotely, don’t worry).

One think that struck me is that no one thinks that they are doing anything special, until they are prompted to reflect on their practices. The process of creating those testimonials probably helped the interviewees understand their learning processes a little bit more, to develop a meta-awareness of them.

Another common theme is the fact that physical events and interactions are major catalysts for initiating online interactions. Many people use conferences or training sessions as springboards to their PLN.

On the technical side, I simply used a Zi8 camera (too bad Kodak is going belly up), a tripod, and iMovie for the post editing. Keeping the videos short is a big help when it comes to mass-producing these. The export process in iMovie can exponentially become lengthier when videos reach 8 to 10 minutes in comparison with 2 or 4 minutes. Shorter videos are easier to produce, and are also a better fit for a web audience.

Next steps

Over the next week or so, I’ll create separate blog posts to analyze the testimonials, and add a layer of my own, my interpretation of what’s in them, and how they connect to my views of the canon PLNer. Hope you can comments and give me some hints on how to push this further!


My goal for Educon this weekend: collect stories

One thing that I have noticed over the years is that I have a hard time getting people to change their practices when it comes to using technology for teaching and learning. I think I’ve come up with a better understanding of why.

As an educational technologist, I’m not one of you. I’m not a teacher, dealing with demanding students every day. I probably give the impression of being a bureaucrat that spends most of its time playing with shiny new toys. What most people don’t understand is that I don’t play with toys for the sake of it, I use them to make my life easier and connect with people, as professional development channels.

Since I started my Ed.D, I think I’ve made some interesting strides towards building a better narrative to support my claims. The main idea that I want to share is that open educational resources are the catalyst to 21st century faculty development, because they trigger the conversations required for continuous improvement and lifelong learning, as described in this diagram I made last fall.

Diagram: OER as a catalyst for faculty development

OER as a catalyst for faculty development - Mathieu Plourde on (click on image for full size and description)

Because of my position, my voice doesn’t persuade teachers to move forward. Aristotle articulated, in On Rhetoric, three modes of persuasion: Pathos, Logos, and Ethos.

Pathos refers to the emotional delivery and connection with the audience, logos, to the logical argument, and ethos, to the appeal or credibility of the source. I think my logos is ok, and my pathos is getting there, but without the ethos, my stories don’t get too far.

So what I’d like to do during Educon is to collect “Stories of adoption” with educators who attend the conference. I want to collect real stories of real educators who changed their teaching practices by embracing a 21st century lifelong learning way of life, through the introduction of personal learning networks and open educational resources. Stories of how you have influenced colleagues are also welcome. I’ll bring my video camera to capture those Youtube-style stories, share them openly, and embed them in my narrative as needed.

If you’re attending and you’re interested, let me know, as a comment to this post, or by email at mathieu AT udel DOT edu.

Consent form