Is “What’s the iMovie Curriculum?” the Wrong Question?

A while back, I was part of an online conversation when a tech director asked for ideas for an iMovie curriculum. His district was working to establish a course in digital video production at their high school.

Right away, I had to wonder if asking for ideas for an iMovie curriculum wasn't the wrong question. iMovie, after all, is just a tool. And you already know that I believe the real power of technology isn't having a “learning technology” focus, but rather a “technology for learning” focus.

I don't object to learning iMovie. I object to learning iMovie out of the context of a compelling purpose to use the tool.

In fact, my experience is that the lessons about the tool (iMovie) are much easier to learn (students remember the skills better) when they are taught in the larger context of being used for something. In fact, I have seen well intentioned teachers teach all the skills for a tool in advance of using it for some purpose meaningful to students, and having to reteach all those skills again when the task was at hand.The brain just really isn't wired for “just in case” learning. It's wired for “just in time” learning.

So I wondered, “Knowing their interest in students learning iMovie, what is it that they might really want students to learn?” What might be the authentic reason to learn how to use iMovie?

For example, a school could offer a course in digital storytelling. In addition to iMovie skills, the students would likely also learn interviewing; scripting and story boarding; pre-production, production, and post-production; visual communication styles, etc. (I have included some links to resources below.) But it would all start with students learning about and doing storytelling.

Or why not take it a step further and have students tell stories that they feel compelled to tell? Perhaps a documentary making class. Students could take on an issue of social significance to themselves, research it, and create a documentary that may even ask it's watchers to take action (and what action would they recommend!?).

Think of how powerful those courses could be for students!

Digital Storytelling Resources:

Documentary Making Resources