video

This blog post, written by Lyndi Hewitt, originally appeared on the Mobilizing Ideas blog and appears here with the author and institute’s permission. We liked it so much we just had to share! 

 

For those of us prescient enough (wink) to plan a social movements course for this semester, it’s been quite a ride.  I’ve been teaching a first year seminar on global justice movements and, like many other instructors, altered my carefully planned syllabus in response to the unexpected wave of activism that emerged before our very eyes.

As the students in the course simultaneously processed core social movements scholarship and news coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protests, I was particularly struck by the fact that many students had very specific and often inaccurate ideas about who the protesters were (and what it cost them to be there) even after extensive, theoretically informed class discussion and news analysis.  So I decided to invite the students to join me for a visit to Zuccotti Park.  Newly equipped with social movements concepts, along with requisite iPhones and video cameras, the students and I ventured into the park on a chilly Saturday evening in early November.  We observed a general assembly, discussed the various issues and frames represented among the signs, and interviewed protesters about their views.  Despite the fact that most of the students were initially skeptical of Occupy Wall Street, they exhibited both intellectual curiosity and great respect for the protesters.  One especially enthusiastic student prepared a short video documenting the protesters’ responses to his questions (which I share with his permission):

The two gentlemen featured prominently, both veterans, had a significant impact on the students. Their remarks around 5:50 encapsulate the disruption of students’ pre-existing assumptions: “I’m tremendously excited by what I see here. These people are extremely sophisticated people. They’re very intelligent people. They’re not bums. Don’t believe the media that we have nothing better to do, okay. We would like to be productive members of society. We were at one time and we would like to be again. We have a lot to contribute.”

Although we’d been discussing the Occupy Wall Street protests and applying social movement theories in the classroom for weeks, the experience of being in the park, seeing the encampment alongside the police, and talking with protesters proved to be a far richer learning opportunity for students. It blew the students’ minds that OWS protesters could be older, hard working, and patriotic; moreover, hearing movement grievances articulated face-to-face catalyzed a depth of understanding that wasn’t achievable simply through reading and watching video clips about those same grievances. Interestingly, our debriefing after the field trip revealed that over half the students had changed their opinions of the protesters as well as the legitimacy of the movement as a whole (all, it turned out, from an unfavorable to a more favorable opinion).

Seeing the OWS protesters through the eyes of my students reminded me how powerful a teacher experience is, and that more time spent in the midst of the action would be valuable for most of us.

Encourage your students to look at marriage in a new light with Greg Scott’s photo essay “Matrimony” in the Winter 2011 issue Contexts. Scott’s article details his ethnographic short film centered on the marriage of two homeless heroin addicts. He encourages readers to explore their biases on what a marriage is or should be by asking of this couple, “Is this a real marriage?

Homeless couple, April 9 2011This article and short film would would fit well in many types of courses: on the family, marriage, sexuality, poverty, or drug use.

Have students read the article and watch the film before class, and write a short reaction paper. Then, use their responses to get a discussion going on marriage in contemporary America.

The article “Balloon Boy Plus Ei8ght? Children and Reality Television” from the Culture Reviews section of the Spring 2010 issue of Contexts is short and class-room friendly piece that explores the use of children in reality TV. As a big part of their popular culture, students will likely have a lot of say about reality TV in general and its use of child stars. Use the following questions either as a group or individually to spark an interesting discussion:

1) What are some reality TV shows that you know about that use children as their main stars? Do you watch them?

2) What do you think it is about using children in reality TV that makes so many people tune in?

3) Levey argues in the article that the children are being exploited by their parents and producers. Do you agree? Why or why not?

4) If you had the opportunity to put your children on a reality TV program, would you? What would be the benefits? What would be the drawbacks?

5) Do you agree with the author that the children currently on reality TV will suffer consequences for it down the road? If so, what are some examples?

6) Imagine how your childhood would have been different if you had been on reality TV. Do you think it would have been a positive or negative experience for you?

Or use this activity:

Bring in a clip of a reality TV show that utilizes child stars to share with the class. Discuss the way the filmmakers and the adults on the program are interacting with them. Do they seem to be enjoying their time in the spotlight? Do you think this is child labor?

For this activity, have students read David Grazian’s essay in the Culture Reviews section of the Spring 2010 issue of Contexts “Neoliberalism and the Realities of Reality TV.” After they read the article at home or in class, have them watch various clips from reality tv shows highlighted in the article and answer/reflect on the questions below. They should come prepared to discuss their reactions to the article and the video clips in class.

1) Have you seen the reality tv shows that Grazian discusses in the article? How often do you watch shows like these? Do you enjoy them?

2) What do you make of Grazian’s argument that reality tv shows reflect a neoliberal agenda? Do you buy this argument? Which parts of his argument do you find most compelling? If you don’t agree with Grazian, why not? What parts of his argument do you disagree with or find troubling?

Use video clips like these….

negative textureAs always, we at Teaching the Social World advocate the use of technology and multimedia materials to spice up any course, and including films during class time is a great way to keep students engaged in the material.

On her website, University of Wisconsin-Madison sociologist Pamela Oliver posts a list of great films and clips to show for sociology instructors teaching about social movements. [Note: Oliver replicates this collection of films from a social movements listserv, unnamed on the page.]

  • There is a BBC documentary on the Tienanmen movement which illustrates very well many collective action problems and is substantively gripping and emotional. Its title is “The Gates of the Heavenly Place” and should be available from www.bbc.co.uk
  • There are a number of videos about the anti-corporate globalization movement. Most of them have been made by the movement themselves, and thus have a fair amount of boosterism. One of the better ones is “This is What Democracy Looks Like” about the protests in Seattle. Its available from Big Noise Productions http://www.thisisdemocracy.org/order.html Another one is Breaking the Bank – about the protests against the World Bank/IMF in Washington http://www.whisperedmedia.org/btheb.html
  • There’s an interesting documentary on Stonewall and the gay/lesbian rights movement that is available through PBS. There is also “Making Sense of the Sixties” that is useful in tracking various movements. I’ve also used the series “Chicano!: History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement” and the series “Eyes on the Prize I” and “Eyes on the Prize II” (civil rights movement) because they are both useful in showing the rifts, grassroots involvement, and government involvement/infiltration in their respective movements.
  • Beyond the many good suggestions already offered for videos to teach about social movements, another rich video series is “A Force More Powerful: Nonviolent Action in the 20th Century.” This new PBS series is six 30 minute stand-alone sessions describing and analyzing six different campaigns: Nashville student sit-ins of 60s with Jim Lawson; Indian independence with Gandhi; South African transition to democracy; Philippines people power revolution in mid-80s; Solidarity in Poland in the 80s; and a sixth that escapes me at the moment. All are excellent, and just the right length for classroom use, followed by discussion. There is also a companion book by Peter Ackerman, with same title.
  • A great film that I always use in teaching social movements is: “Freedom On My Mind” which documents Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964. What really makes the film great is the juxtoposition of clips from 64 and interviews with participants 30 years later, including Bob Moses, Heather Booth, and grassroots Black leaders from Mississippi.
  • Another excellent film is “The War At Home” about the movement against the Vietnam War on the Madison campus of the U. of Wisconsin. I also recommend With God On Our Side, an excellent multi-part documentary series made for PBS about the rise of the Christian Right. The documentary series is a supplement to William Martin’s book of the same name. It would be a useful contrast with Eyes on the Prize to show how religion influences social movement activists in very different ways.
  • In my class on the Civil Rights Movement, in addition to segments from the extraordinary “Eyes on the Prize” series and “Freedom on My Mind” already mentioned, I also show as background “A. Philip Randolph: For Jobs and Freedom,” which connects the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters to the Montgomery Bus Boycott in the person of E.D. Nixon, Randolph’s connection to the March on Washington movement, and much more. The segment on the Child Development Group of Mississippi from the 5-part “America’s War on Poverty” series is a useful follow-up to what happened in 1965 after the Freedom Summer of 1964.
  • For my class on Gender and Social Movements I show the excellent two-hour “One Woman, One Vote” program on the Woman Suffrage Movement. I also show between the “One Woman, One Vote” segments program 5, “Outrage,” from the British “Shoulder to Shoulder” series, on the Pankhurst family, to add some excitement and a bit of international perspective.
  • “Before Stonewall” is excellent on the origins of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Movements; the sequel “After Stonewall” is good but more difuse and scattered (I don’t show it). I do use “The Times of Harvey Milk” as a wonderful introduction to the politics of the GLBT movement, as well as an essential part of local (northern California) history — it shocks and grips our 20-year-old students who weren’t born when Milk and Mayor Moscone were assassinated, and Senator Dianne Feinstein’s career was relaunched.
  • On women in the labor movement, there is a very moving segment on the “revolt of the 6000,” the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, and its consequences in part 4 of the “New York” series. And finally there is the old standby, “Union Maids,” on women in labor and the left in the 1930s and 40s, now available in video to replace your university’s tattlered celluloid film.
  • I’ve also taught a class on the Conservation and Environmental Movement, which has been less systematically documented in videos than the movements above. “Battle for the Wilderness” is good on the early conflict between John Muir and Gifford Pinchot, between preservationism and utilitarianism in conservation. “For Earth’s Sake: The Life and Times of David Brower,” is a little too much a personal tribute, but it introduces this remarkable leader and his involvement with the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and Earth Island Institute. On the 30-year struggle against strip-mining in eastern Kentucky, I’d recommend “To Save the Land and People, ” a video from Appalshop in Whitesburg, KY. I also use “Butterfly” on Julia Butterfly Hill, which is problematic but involves young students and is a jumping off point for a good discussion.
  • On the student movement of the 1960s, I’ve found “Berkeley in the Sixties” to be most useful; good cuts from past to present, the activists are reflective and often self-critical, and it gives a good feel for the importance of the civil rights movement boosting student protest, the Vietnam War, the rise of Black Power, and the beginnings of the women’s movement. Better in several of these respects than the recent film on SDS (IMHO). Of course again we gain student interest from the local history aspect of Berkeley.
  • Women Make Movies in NYC has some excellent films on the women’s movements in the US, the Beijing Conference, and one on cultural feminism focusing on punk music artists.
  • “Ballot Measure 9” — on activism surrounding the Oregon anti-gay ballot measures. And the PBS documentary, “Mean Things Happening” (part of the Great Depression series), about labor organizing in the 1930s.

Read more.

We’ve been big on videos lately, but what can we say: online video is booming.

You may be familiar with TED: a conference about Technology, Entertainment and Design, though really there are talks on just about every topic. The best part: the talks are all online for free.

Most of the videos are around 20 minutes, so they’re perfect for watching in class or as assignments. Here are just two that I’ve watched recently as examples:

First, here’s Barry Schwartz on the decline of “wisdom.” It’s a bit of a rant near the end (in my opinion), but the first half provides an interesting critique of our modern faith in rationality and incentives and is great to compliment lectures on either bureaucracy or on rational choice:

Second, here’s a talk by Hans Rosling on “Third-world myths,” which is worth watching just for the captivating display of data alone. It’s great for a discussion of globalization but also, because the graphics are so good, for courses on research methods and data presentation. You can also see more of these graphics at gapminder.org:

Popcorn!Many instructors find that showing movies or even short clips from documentaries or news programs can help keep students engaged and excited about their course content. YouTube is a great resource for short clips on a variety of topics, but can sometimes be hit-or-miss based on the volume of content on the site and relatively little quality control on specific topics.

I’ve found FRONTLINE, the public television program, to be a reliable source for great clips to show in class, plus, they now have an extensive collection of programs (both full and excerpted) available to view online. Frontline covers a variety of issues and often have additional commentary from producers and ‘fact sheets’ or ‘FAQs’ that you could print off and use as handouts during class.

The FRONTLINE episodes are also categorized so that you can easily find appropriate clips for whatever issue you are discussing in class. Some of my recent favorites:

  • When Kids Get Life — about children in the U.S. receiving life sentences for murder, and the juvenile justice system in America more generally
  • Is WalMart Good for America? — about corporatization, labor practices, and business culture
  • A Class Divided — about discrimination and racism in the U.S. — Frontline writes, “This is one of the most requested programs in FRONTLINE’s history. It is about an Iowa schoolteacher who, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in 1968, gave her third-grade students a first-hand experience in the meaning of discrimination. This is the story of what she taught the children, and the impact that lesson had on their lives.”

Go to FRONTLINE’s website.

What videos have you found to be especially useful in your sociology courses?

Last week, I posted about using podcasts in the classroom. This week I want to share a few relatively new websites designed for sharing academic talks.

I got the idea from this post on TechCrunch about the website Academic Earth, which TechCrunch called “Hulu for Education.” If you aren’t familiar with Hulu, it’s a joint venture of NBC, Fox and several other media corporations that makes television shows and films available for free (with advertising) online. This isn’t a new idea, but Hulu’s been successful for being one of the first sites to do this that doesn’t suck: the interface is clean and simple, it’s easy to subscribe to the specific shows you want to watch, the advertisements aren’t distracting, the selection is pretty good, etc. Academic Earth does follows the Hulu model of being a nice, clean, searchable aggregator for academic lectures and courses that you can subscribe to and watch in order. (Now as to whether or not the lectures are as entertaining as, say, The Simpsons on Hulu, I won’t say.)

On Academic Earth, you can find a large variety of lectures and complete courses. From Paul Bloom’s Intro to Psychology course to Benjamin Polack’s Game Theory course. You can even embed videos. For example, here’s Bloom’s lecture on social psychology:

What you won’t find—yet—are any sociology courses! So get on it, sociologists! Despite the relative dearth of “sociologists,” there’s much sociological content and many of these lectures will be appropriate for use in classes we teach. (Or even just an accessible way for us to learn a little more about other fields ourselves!)

Academic Earth isn’t the only site like this: also check out BigThink and Fora.tv. Of course, “iTunes U” and the iTunes podcasting section has lots of useful stuff as well.

Update: …and just two days later, YouTube joins the crowd with YouTube edu. (via ThickCulture)

Managing conflict with students in the classroom is something that many instructors struggle with. Both new teachers and those with years of experience often express anxiety and frustration about how to address some of these issues. The following tutorials are provided by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Teaching and Learning.

Why is it important to address these issues?

Managing a classroom well–balancing your instructional authority with your students’ concerns–comes with experience. Sometimes painful experience! Small problems poorly handled can distract you from teaching well and cast a pall on the semester. And while many are ready to complain about situations, we don’t often engage in constructive talk about how to manage and minimize the troublesome issues when they arise.

These scenarios help instructors think about what to do when a student complains about a great, doesn’t think s/he will ever ‘get’ the concept, misses work because of a sick child, disputes classroom or assignment directions, or asks you to meet off campus.

How to use the tutorial:

Select a scene (see below) and you’ll have a chance to view an encounter between a student and an instructor.

Following the clip, you’ll likely want to think about how you might have handled the situation—there’s no single correct approach. After you’ve formulated an opinion, you can choose to listen to several teaching consultants to see how they might have worked with the student to resolve the conflict.

Transcripts of both the scene and the advice are available on every page and further resources can be found on the workshop’s resources page.

Take a look at the scenes below…

Scene 1 – Why Did You Take Points Off?
Scene 2 – I’ll Never Get It!
Scene 3 – Could You Talk to the Professor for Us?
Scene 4 – It’s a Zoo in Here!
Scene 5 – Let’s Meet for Coffee
Scene 6 – I Had to Go to a Funeral
Scene 7 – Sorry, but I Don’t Always Understand You
Scene 8 – Do the Problem for Me!
Scene 9 – I Had a Sick Child!
Scene 10 – You Never Told Us That!

PowerPoint 12Many instructors are now using PowerPoint to present lecture material, integrate technology in the classroom, and project videos for their classes. Below you will find some useful tips and tricks compiled by University of Minnesota PhD candidate Jon Smajda, also the Web Editor of Contexts Magazine.

  1. Use the Dual Monitors mode in Powerpoint: Ever wished you could look at your own notes on your laptop screen while keeping the Powerpoint presentation up on the projector screen for your students? You can do this! You have to enable Dual Monitor mode on your laptop and Powerpoint and then you put the Powerpoint slide on one “monitor” (the projector screen) and have your own laptop monitor free to do whatever you want. Here are the instructions: http://www.onppt.com/ppt/article1026.html.
  2. Navigating to a specific slide: Say you’re on slide #12 and you want to go to your web browser to show the class a website or you want to bring up a Word document to show the class. When you go back to Powerpoint, you select View Show from the Slide Show menu and you’re right back at slide #1. Then you have to quickly cycle through each slide to get back to slide #12. There are three ways to avoid this. First, before you enter slideshow mode, instead of using the menu use the tiny “Slide Show” icon in the bottom left corner of your screen (its icon looks like a projector). If you click this, you’ll be taken straight to the slide displayed in your editing mode window, not the first slide. Second, while you’re in slideshow mode, if at any time you type a number and click return you’ll be taken to that slide: so “12 return” takes you to slide #12. Third, if you right-click anywhere on the screen while in slide show mode, and go to the “Go” menu you can go straight to any slide that way.
  3. Drawing on the screen: If you type control-p (or command-p on macs) while you’re in slideshow mode, you’ll get a pen icon. You can then draw on the screen. This is helpful if you’re looking at graphics or lots of text, for example, and want to draw attention to one element (or if you simply want to pretend you’re John Madden drawing out football plays on the telestrator). If you click “E” your drawings will be erased, and if you go to another slide and come back, they’ll also be erased.
  4. Blank screen: If you click “W” while in a slideshow, you’ll get a blank white screen. If you click “B” you’ll get a blank black screen. Just click W or B again to return to your slide. This is helpful if you want to move into a discussion portion of the class and don’t want everyone pretending to study your slides as a way to avoid making eye contact with you when you ask them questions.
  5. Other shortcuts: Microsoft has a table of other shortcuts like this available on their website: http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/assistance/HP051953031033.aspx

Also, if you are looking for more detailed online tutorials and references, check out the links below…

Know of other great tricks for making the best use of PowerPoint in the classroom? Comment below!