Teachers and students debate merits of classroom video service

Microsoft PowerPoint, as well as Google Slides, has always been the go-to for school projects, but now there is a new tool in the school’s arsenal: WeVideo. The Carmel Unified School District subscribed to the premium version of WeVideo for $3,000 in early October, but students have not accepted it as some teachers intended.

“I liked that [WeVideo] was self-explanatory and quick to use,” junior Catherine Ogata says. “But it was annoying that only one person could work on it at a time.”

The video-making platform was purchased with the hopes of giving students a more creative outlet than PowerPoint, and on that aspect it delivers. The majority of students who have used the program have said that it is easy to use and that they can quickly create a short film with text and audio.

“I use [WeVideo] as an alternative form of assessment,” CHS French teacher Suzanne Marden says. “Students can be creative and show what they learned in a creative fashion that is a little more autonomous.”

Since WeVideo can record audio, it is an easy replacement for the archaic Photostory, and because WeVideo is website-based, students can take their projects home to work on them.

“Part of the problem is sometimes more powerful software is harder for novices to use,” says Colin Matheson, the district’s technological advisor. “When people are really good at video-editing they can use all the features of something like Final Cut, but when people are not very good at video-editing some of the features can confuse them, and something simpler is better.”

Final Cut Pro is Apple’s top-notch video-editing software that runs for $300 per computer, and since Final Cut is only compatible with Apple computers every student would need a Mac to do multi-media projects, and that would be a lot of unnecessary cost for just a few projects.

To put it in perspective, Acer Chromebooks cost about $200 and new Macs start at over $999. The school has subscribed to WeVideo for a full year, getting 1,000 premium accounts for about $3,000 a year, while Final Cut cost $300 per Apple computer. Clearly, WeVideo is the more economical route.

“It’s not as great as we thought it would be,” history teacher Joe McCarty says. “We also get more publishing rights with the paid version.”

Teachers and students both agree that WeVideo isn’t the best video platform out there—there’s Final Cut and iMovie—but it may be the best option available for students on their Chromebooks. The only other option, according to Matheson, would be the YouTube editor, which is far more limited.

WeVideo also has a slight issue with the school’s filter, iBoss.

“[The tech department] understands that the filter is getting in the way of student projects,” Matheson says. “It’s just trying to figure out how to get the new filter to open up for high schoolers to get their work done.”

For students to fully access WeVideo in each class, the premium version is a necessity; the free version only allows a total of five minutes of film time. That is fine for one class, but when a student needs to make a video for another class they must have the premium version.

“I think kids like making videos,” computer teacher Tom Clifford adds. “They like the transitions; they like to choose different images to come in and how they come in.”

Students tend to agree that video is an underused form of media in schools; everything is about PowerPoint and that is how the majority of teachers choose to get their information across.

“I really like that you can put your voice over it, and that is like a slideshow,” freshman Hunter Heger says. “With PowerPoint, you have to present it live, but with WeVideo you can go over it many times before it is due.”

WeVideo is a relatively new company, and their platform is not yet perfect. There are numerous editing issues that students have found: the slow download time, the glitches and the lack of live sharing capabilities. The last means that two students cannot work on the same video at the same time.

“If something isn’t working there is not much we can do about it, except for give feedback to WeVideo,” Matheson says.

Although the premium version of WeVideo isn’t everything that the school expected, it is a cost effective program that allows for students to create videos on their Chromebooks.

-Preston Miglaw