Lights, Camera, Action!

Wow!  Really?  Where is this happening?  How cool.

Education Week (April 7, 2010) reports how a handful of colleges are now accepting student video essays as part of their college application process.  The parameters and conditions for the video essay differ from school to school–varying from schools that offer it as an optional submission to those that actually allow it to replace the written essay.  Do not be alarmed the entire college application process as we know it still exists where grades and test scores matter and are weighted accordingly.  Colleges are using these video essays to attract students to their colleges and “to understand who they are.”

Let’s take a peak at a very popular one, Math Dances (there were over 127,483 views on YouTube when I wrote this blog and it was referenced in The New York Times, US News and World Report, NPR, and many other publications).

What do you think?  Here are some of my initial thoughts and questions:

  • I like the idea of the video essay overall.  I am not too impressed with Math Dances though.
  • Is the rubric/criteria to evaluate the essay (whether a written essay or a video essay) the same?
  • Is this really an equalized playing field for all applicants–between those who can produce their own video essay (not everyone has access to a video camera and movie producing software) and those that use good ole pen and paper (something everyone has access to)?
  • Are we doing enough (a recurring question I ponder weekly) to prepare our students with 21st century skills?  We educators need to understand that these video essays are not just for the reality show applicant.

After some reflection it occurred to me that the title of this blog, “Lights, Camera, Action!” applies to us educators not our students—this is not a “trend” that will be going away anytime soon.