This research was conducted with a group of Lower Sixth pupils studying Classical Civilisation at AS. As part of their revision of overriding themes in Homer’s Iliad the pupils were asked to choose a video clip, no more than four minutes in length, to demonstrate a particular theme. The pupils were given the freedom to choose their own clips, which did not have to be from Classical sources. For example, the range of sources for clips included Lord of the Rings, Titanic and television adverts.
The pupils then presented their clips to each other in class, and each clip was used a discussion starter on the theme in question. Pupils were invited to share their thoughts on the clips chosen and to say what parts of the Iliad could be connected to the clip in question.
Each pupil was then interviewed individually so that they could further explain why they chose the clip which they did. They were also given the opportunity to express their views on the usage of video in the classroom currently, its strengths and weaknesses, and how they thought that its usage could be improved on in the future.
In combination with wider secondary reading on the usage of film in education, it was possible to draw several conclusions from the research:
- A non-classical clip can induce a lot more discussion and analysis than a classical one sometimes can- in particular the discussions in class seemed to be more open ended and lengthy when a non-classical clip had been shown.
- Video is a good way for pupils to share and contrast each other’s ideas and this in turn is something they view as a useful and broadening experience- the pupils showed and expressed great enthusiasm for hearing each other’s ideas and interpretations.
- Video can be viewed as a time to switch off in class; particularly if it seems that the video is being used as a time-filler or an alternative to teaching and learning. Here pupil comments made it clear that any video should be shown only for a clear and particular educational purpose.
- Teachers and pupils can often have very different interpretations of a clip; hence it is important to keep an open mind and expect the unexpected when asking for pupils’ thoughts in response to a clip.
- Video is a particularly good way to help students memorise key episodes. This was especially true for parts of the Iliad which included ideas that were difficult to visualise, such as the gods.
- The act of choosing a video yourself means that you have a deeper understanding of the topic in question- pupils were glad for the opportunity to personalise their work.
It must be emphasised that this research is not complete or wholly indicative because of its limitations. This has been a study that has only included one class, in one subject, in one year group, and therefore could be expanded on. It may also be worth considering some areas of this topic which have not been researched, for example:
- The effect of moving images for promoting a classroom discussion as opposed to still images.
- Does the effect of watching a video differ depending on when in the lesson you watch the video OR when during the day you watch it?
- Is there an optimum length of video that keeps pupils focused while still providing sufficient stimulus to expand their knowledge and/or promote a discussion? A working theory here is that any video longer than around four minutes will need a task or worksheet alongside it to prevent pupils’ concentration from wandering.