Patricia and Barbara have both mentioned using video as a collaborative learning exercise
How do you set learner expectations in regards to defining learning objectives or working with content? How do you balance the academic objectives with the need to learn software specific skills. What do you say to students who don't know where to start or seem overwhelmed? I'm going to guess that these projects are graded and so one of the motivators are grades? What are some of the other outcomes that you see (anticipated or not?)
The cooking video project I referred to in the introductions forum, for instance, emerged in class when the kids themselves asked whether we could have a cooking class at the school cafeteria to prepare the recipes they had read about or favourites they brought from home. I told them I could not do it with the whole class for safety reasons but suggested they make a video of themselves in pairs preparing a recipe at home, which would count for an extra mark.
I work with young kids (12/13 year olds), whose language is not English, so it is crucial for them to have the task, preparation steps clearly defined and explained, the criteria for evaluation shown and discussed beforehand.
When they agreed to doing the project and we set the deadlines, I gave them the steps (task, plan, vocabulary to priviledge, evaluation criteria) and also offered extra help after class for those who did not feel comfortable or had some kind of problem with the software (very few).
The overall result (see the links to various videos at the bottom of the page) in terms of language and performance went beyond my expectation. They were proud of their productions and most enjoyed the whole project immensely. The kids also brought the food to class and shared them with their colleagues. (See photos)
The MOSAIC English language program for adult learners with diverse first language and education backgrounds is learner-centred and task-based - and all about improving communicative language - so the negotiation demanded by the process of making a video together, especially as part of the process is in online forums and wikis, is a rich framework for learning and applying learning. The task is expressed clearly as a language task. For example, after functional langauge lessons on explaining a process/ giving directions, learner groups are required to produce a "How To" video on a subject of their choice. Criteria match the 'best practice' items learners culled from unit lessons, as well as a maximum lemgth and a deadline. Final videos are peer-assessed to the criteria, and the teacher assesses individual learners on participation and language production.
Regarding the need to learn software specific skills: Previous programs had discrete computer use support classes. Because our feedback data showed that students had a fair range of skills (although in L1), we designed the program to rely on informal peer learning, referral to external online tutorials, and direct support if needed. For example, with continuous intake, we teach an orientation to the online part of the blended course, including online tools, only every few months. The orientation lesson teaches learners how to give an orientation, so a new students is mentored into the online course and projects by experienced students. Again, a great language task as well. Our projects are modest, of course, in comparison to a university program, but almost one year into the model we have had no huge problems re software skills. Indeed, I have learned so much from the students!
Students who don't know where to start or seem overwhelmed: Participation of all group members is a project objective. Non-participation can be seen quickly through the online coursework. The teacher facilitates inclusion and support among the group.
I confess that I see collaborative video projects as processes to hang language on. I sometimes feel guilty as I blithely delete the end products of so many learner hours . . .