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Cindy Wong on Portable Video Devices

My name is Cindy J Wong. I am a consultant evaluation and a social science researcher in health and human services. Recently, I have been obsessed with digital video technology as a tool in social, organizational, instructional, and evaluative documentation. I recently had the chance of bringing portable video recorders to a visit to a non-profit organization located in South Africa. The organization provides mobile health services and computer education at primary schools in rural areas to address HIV/AIDS. I had an idea about how the technology might be utilized, but I was pleasantly surprised and thrilled, as the members of the organization had more immediate ideas for the technology that involved educational assessment and implemented them. The staff members are continuing to expand the ways in which the technology is utilized in education and instruction.

Rad Resource: Portable video recording devices, such as FlipVideo (http://www.theflip.com/en-us/) record up to 120 minutes of high definition video. These are hand-held battery-operated units that contain retractable USB ports which can be plugged directly into a computer or laptop for download. The cameras include basic software for downloading, organizing and editing of the video clips. The cameras are affordable as the technology goes, and they are widely available in the United States. Movie Maker 2.1 (http://bit.ly/moviemaker2) has been a powerful software program that can integrate with the Flip system. As a Windows User, you may not even realize that this software is on your computer, since it is downloaded through automatic updates (check your Program Folder). MacUsers can similarly use iMovieMaker (http://www.apple.com/ilife/imovie/). File conversion freeware such as Pazera (http://bit.ly/pazera) convert Flip HD file formats to Windows Movie Maker formats with ease.

I hope you enjoyed this Rad Resource, Cheers!

This week’s posts are sponsored by AEA’s Collaborative, Participatory, and Empowerment Evaluation Topical Interest Group (http://comm.eval.org/EVAL/cpetig/Home/Default.aspx) as part of the CPE TIG Focus Week. Check out AEA’s Headlines and Resources entries (http://eval.org/aeaweb.asp) this week for other highlights from and for those conducting Collaborative, Participatory, and Empowerment Evaluations.

4 thoughts on “Cindy Wong on Portable Video Devices”

  1. Nicole, Thanks! that is wonderful that your son is participating in creating films with his teacher and class. If anyone’s interested, this website contains some useful information and tools for educational settings: http://www.jasonohler.com, I found the information on storyboard techniques was very helpful.

    It’s great to see the comments from Dr. David Fetterman. It is a useful point that video functions are available through phones and digital cameras. Dr. Fetterman’s workshop and several the CPEE TIG sessions at the AEA Conference in Orlando had many innovative suggestions and resources for use of technology in evaluation. It was a good idea to engage the organization with ethical considerations before and throughout the process, we underwent discussions beforehand and developing documentation and consent forms around use of the recorders.

    Marcus, thanks very much for your comment and question. The organization was in the middle of a training with young adults at the time. The trainers incorporated the video by recording trainees during “teachbacks” in which trainees would demonstrate the skills from the training. The recordings were shown to highlight examples of the trainee performance and discuss with the group positive aspects within the examples. As an observer, I saw value for participants to see themselves in the learning process and have the chance to reflect on performing the skills and on various aspects of the training.

    Please feel free to send me an email if you would like to discuss further or have any questions,


  2. Hi Cindy

    I also use a lot of digital photography and video in my evaluation projects.

    The FlipVideo is great – simple to use, inexpensive, and portable. I also want to recommend a personal digital assistant like an iPhone that takes pictures and video, allowing you to send the data to a colleague in seconds.

    I also want to recommend the use of a regular digital camera – using the video option. I have a number of colleagues who use it to record behavior on their projects.

    One of my site folks took a video of the kids in the hallway (during class hours) to let me know what’s really going on while I am 3,000 miles away. I was able to call the principal and ask what’s going on with my new set of eyes.

    In other examples, I simply loaned my camera to participants and let them document our activities (digital photographs and video).

    In addition to documenting evaluation activities, these can be edited and placed in a video (as you suggest) for demonstration purposes on the web and at meetings (professional association meetings and Board of Education meetings).

    The same ethics and permissions apply here of course concerning the use of pictures and video in research and evaluation.

    Kim Sabo Flores also writes about how disposable cameras are shared with youth to help them document their own street life.

    Thanks for sharing this with us.

    – David

  3. Nicole Vicinanza

    Hi Cindy:
    Thanks for brining this up as a tool- it is very accessible and engaging. My son’s teacher uses the Flip camera in his class and it’s easy enough that the kids can all participate in making short films and recording and reporting information.

  4. Hi Cindy,

    Thanks for letting everyone know about the Flip video recorder. I originally learned of it by an organizational communications researcher at my university, who, too, swears by its effectiveness in projects. How exactly do you use the flip in educational assessment and instruction? Seems interesting…


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