Video: Sociology Cinema Gathers Videoclips for Lecture Topics

Online video is being used by sociology instructors at the University of Maryland to teach basic concepts and accompany lectures. In The Sociological Cinema Valerie Chepp, Paul Dean, and Lester Andrist edit and publish posts where video clips are tagged and referenced so that other sociology instructors can use videos to make their classes more interesting without having to spend the extra time finding the right video for a specific content.

In their Facebook page they explain:

The idea of The Sociological Cinema came to us over the course of several conversations in which we repeatedly found ourselves discussing our use of video clips in the classroom. Our experiences in the classroom taught us that videos were highly effective at illustrating course concepts and theories, supplementing analyses found in course texts, and keeping students more engaged. With our experiences confirmed by scholarship on teaching and learning, the pedagogical case for using video in the classroom was overwhelming.

Videoclips or videos do not necessarily have to be short: this 50 minute Al Jazeera documentary on the Bahraini Uprising is suggested as an introduction to the study social movements and “exploring the evolution and consequences of state tactics aimed at quelling the protests – both violent and non-violent.”

When studying globalization, inequality and communities, this next short videoclip titled The Miniature Earth is suggested:

Given that large numbers can be difficult to put into perspective (and thus important information about the world runs the risk of becoming meaningless or unremarkable), this video illustrates for students how the global community fares on such indicators as hunger, religious affiliation, literacy, wealth, education, government expenditures, among many others. The clip is not only useful for helping students understand global inequality and differences, but it also reminds students of the enormity of their own social privilege relative to the majority of the world.

Movies are also sources for videoclips, like this minute long example from Up In the Air, starring George Clooney, which serves to illustrate stereotyping. The Sociological Cinema also provides additional suggestions for reading material to accompany the lessons.

This clip shows comedian Anita Renfroe condensing the phrases a typical mother says to her children in the course of a day to the duration of the William Tell Overture. In the classroom, sociology students can first list role expectations of mothers, and then discuss the roles mothers have and also focus on gender role expectations of fathers.

Beyond being a repository for videos, the site is also a source for teaching advice and shared experiences when teaching sociology. In An Online Video Assignment (that is Fun to Grade!) instructors suggest turning the tables on the students, and asking them to look for videos which they will categorize and tag as a way for them to apply their knowledge:

 In the process, students do the same analytical exercise that we do in the classroom with clips found elsewhere on this site. The learning outcomes are for students to 1) become familiar with using and applying sociological concepts; 2) use their sociological imagination to engage familiar content; 3) teach each other through the course blog; and 4) become more critical media consumers. The upside for me is that I have interesting and engaging assignments with which I can evaluate them (of course, the videos must be short to make this a time effective exercise to grade).

Image used to illustrate post is Amo el Cine by Flickr user Román Soto (CC BY 2.0).

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