Project-based learning (PBL) is one of the hotter trends in classrooms these days. Simply put, it gets students to collaborate and work together to create and launch projects. Those projects can be just about anything. In our experience here at Edudemic, we’ve seen many projects be centered around creating video productions that can be shared on sites like YouTube or other video sites. (See The 100 Best Video Sites For Educators for other video hosting options)
So let’s say you’re in a PBL classroom or simply looking to improve your video editing skillz. Yes, skillz with a z. It’s easy to do a quick Google search and try out a few options but we’re hoping to save you some time by personally trying out these free video editing tools in hopes of making your life and projects a bit more magical. Plus we’ll save you some time so you can actually learn the right tool rather than try out 10 random tools that lead nowhere. In any case, enjoy the tools and let us know which of these you prefer or if there are others we should review and share. Thanks in advance!
Windows Movie Maker – One of the most-used and simplest video editing tools available for PCs, Movie Maker is pre-installed on most PCs these days. But make sure you have the most up-to-date version available on Microsoft.com. Version 2.6 runs on Vista and Windows 7. If you’re looking for the most useful video editing tools like cut, fade, and insert graphics … this is the first and really only choice for basic PC users.
PBL Project: Have students shoot their own videos of the environment in and outside of the classroom. Then, using Movie Maker, have them stitch together the two to create a ‘virtual walkthrough’ of the entire area. Great for showing off their ability to keep track of various clips, improves video editing abilities, and is a good way to get to know your surroundings better.
Wax – This one’s a step up from Movie Maker because it has special effects, more options for cutting, jogging, and more precise handling of time. In other words, you can make a more professional-looking video without it having to be all choppy. One of the cooler features of Wax (the program, not the surfboard add-on) are the 2D and 3D special effects. Worth checking out if you’re looking for the ‘next step up’ from the built-in Movie Maker!
PBL Project: As a project for PBL, I’d recommend having students try and create their video using the same special effect as a class. In other words, every student has to use the same special effect in their video … the different takes on the same effect could be quite interesting.
StoryBoard Pro Software – Similar to Wax, StoryBoard Pro lets you do a bit more than Movie Maker, but it’s a little different. StoryBoard has the tools that let you enter meta data (descriptions of clips, etc.) and even lay out what you plan to do with your video prior to actually editing. Therefore, StoryBoard could be great for long-term video projects where you have the luxury of time.
PBL Project: Task your students with creating a ‘commercial’ for their classroom and give them an entire month to plan, shoot, and edit the film. Using StoryBoard’s unique (to free tools, at least) ability to lay out editing ahead of time, the long-term project can be fun and easy to manage!
iMovie – If you have a Mac, you have iMovie. All recent macs come with this powerful piece of software. It’s one of the easiest and powerful video editing tools available. Trouble is, you have to have a Mac to use it. In other words, it’s not super duper free per se. But neither was that Windows-based PC used in the previous 3 tools. So, that being said, iMovie lets you now do everything from create your own trailers to full-length movies with drag-and-drop ease.
PBL Project: Create a trailer for your classroom. A movie trailer for a movie that will probably never get made (that may be a bigger PBL project!) should get students excited to turn in the best performances and editing. Homework can literally be to watch movie trailers. After taking a closer look at them versus the full-length films, you might be amazed at how concise-but-descriptive trailers are.
Blender – This is a step up from iMovie (in most ways) as it lets you do a little more advanced editing, blending, animating, and shading. Ever wanted to try your hand at creating the next Toy Story? Blender is worth checking out.
PBL Project: Get ready to animate your life! Use Blender to create an animation of your classroom. Task students with building their very own cartoon using computer-generated characters and you can only dream what will end up as the finished project.
If you do any of these projects or other video-related projects, share them with us Edudemic-ers! Drop us a line at edudemic [at] gmail.com and we’ll feature your hard work for the world to see!