Next Vista for Learning



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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Next Vista for Learning?
Next Vista works to make learning more engaging, with a focus on helping students start strong with any topic they study. Its central project is a free, online library of teacher- and student-made short videos for learners everywhere. Next Vista believes a strong four-minute video could save students days or weeks of frustration by providing a variety of presentations on the topics that give them trouble.
Why is the online library needed?
Learning is stronger when it starts with an engaging introduction of each topic. If numerous creative student presentations and strong introductions by teachers passionate and knowledgeable about given topics are available, many more students will be able to start their studies with, "Okay, I can learn this," rather than, "I just don't get it." In addition to help with their studies, students need opportunities to learn more actively about other parts of the world as well as how people have worked to address problems in communities near and far.
Who is Rushton Hurley?
Rushton Hurley has taught at the high school and college level, been a school principal, worked with charter and traditional schools, and organized and run an online school. His graduate school background at Stanford includes exploring technology-enhanced learning through multi-media and speech recognition. Starting with his professional experiences and training, and adding having built connections to interested educators around the world, he is in a strong position to advance this project. Even better, the idea of helping students become more engaged in and confident with their learning is one that drives his passion and resources to make this project succeed. Give him a few minutes, and he'll convince you, too.
Won't this take up more time for already busy teachers?
Using the online library, teachers may choose to introduce topics by using one or several videos, and encouraging students to view more if they want to get a better starting command of the material. When the teacher can be the guide for the discussion rather than devoting energy to introducing those topics for which they have less expertise, they can better focus on the learner. Because the system is free to all, learners all over the globe can benefit from the talents and energies of those contributing material.
Is this just for finding interesting ways to introduce learners to new topics?
While one power of the videos would be presenting material, they can also be used for developing group discussions, encouraging cross-cultural and international projects, and sharing successful programs and practices. These programs are designed to inspire young people to develop experience with and knowledge of their peers near and far.
Isn't making videos difficult?
Until recently, editing video content required using complex software and expensive equipment. However, in the last few years, easy-to-use video editing programs have become widely available and are either inexpensive or free. Many teachers are already using these resources to enliven their students' experiences; Next Vista will help more people become involved by providing or directing users to information about developing and contributing material.
Why specify that the videos be short?
There are several reasons. First, keeping videos to five minutes or less should simplify downloads. Second, the idea is that these videos would be useful for discussions, and shorter pieces are far more conducive to this end. Third is the issue of teenage attention spans, which needs no explanation. Fourth, the shorter the videos are, the better focused the creator should be on one aspect of a larger topic. Longer stories can be broken in to multiple videos, and links on the page allow a viewer to move to related pieces.
If anyone can contribute videos, won't there be bad ones?
Videos will be screened for inappropriate or weak content, but by helping teachers learn to ask the right questions when working with their students, any video can be educationally useful. As should happen with any resource, the teacher can focus students on the validity of sources, the perspectives of those presenting, and questions for how to explore the topic further. If consideration of a video by teachers and learners is strong, the learning will be productive.
Aren't there companies already doing this?
There are, for a fee. In a sense, Next Vista is an open source movement for educational content to which students can get excited about contributing. The project is not limited to one approach, but is open to presentations, commentary, responses to commentary, dramatic material, or whatever one dreams up that is appropriate for young people to see. Rather than the limited structure of a company focused on profit, my goal is for people from many different places and backgrounds to contribute to creative and engaging exploration of topics.
How do you run this without commercial income?
Next Vista is supported by grants and donations, with special projects covered by partner organizations. The one thing Next Vista charges for is training; when a company, organization, or school hires one of our people to help them better understand the power and use of free tools and multimedia, fees earned support the development of
Is this solely for those with an internet connection?
While we believe that over the next few years broadband availability at home or within the community will become nearly universal, people are even now able to download short videos to PDAs or cell phones. It will also be possible for users to choose to download material for presenting later.
I need a better picture; can you give me an example of how this might be used?
Fast forward three to five years. Ms. Smith, a talented world history teacher, has a strong interest in Latin American history. When she introduces her students to Central and South America, she can draw on her own experiences and fascination with the cultures they explore. Her students enjoy her stories and the passion she brings to her presentations. Students from other parts of the country and world have written to her with questions, comments, and thank-yous for the three videos she contributed to Next Vista, because they, too, find her passion and expertise helpful.
Ms. Smith used to work much harder trying to find ways to better present topics on Asia and Africa, for which she has far less experience. However, using videos from Next Vista that other teachers have rated as strong, her students have been able to get off to a good start with those topics. In addition to shifting to asking questions and helping students learn to explore topics themselves, she has developed new activities using the ideas from what other teachers and students have posted in their videos. She can focus more time on each student, and she improves her craft at the same time.
She thanks you for having taken the time to help make Next Vista a dynamic reality.