Tag Archives: CYOA

When Students’ Products Suck

It’s tough. We want so badly for our students to be successful that sometimes we forget what the road to success looks like. Hint: it’s filled with stuff that’s not very rewatchable. Russ Goerend

We finished our Choose Your Own Adventure YouTube video project a couple of weeks ago and I have been putting off this post. I was disappointed and a bit embarrassed by how it turned out. Russ summarizes my feelings nicely. It was the culmination of a project studying WWI and WWII from the American perspective. We had each class of 40+ students working on creating these videos stores as a group. Yup, forty students working together on one final product. It was a bit like…



It was a challenge organizing this endeavor but we left as much as possible up to the students. Students did a nice job of storyboarding and dividing up into roles such as writers, actors, directors, props, and editors. The breakdowns started when the directors did not get files to the editors immediately. Clips that had poor audio, bad lighting, and mistakes did not get previewed until days after shooting them. Video files were contaminated and some of them were lost. In the end one class ended up with no final product and the other class’ video was incomplete and only partly uploaded to YouTube with very poor editing.

20131014_083924I wanted to brag about how good this project was and show off an amazing final product. It didn’t happen this time. Yet the students worked hard. They brought in props and costumes and wrote a decent script. They tried to do everything right, but they are not professionals. The first scenes took a long time to film as they figured out set, props, and lighting. The majority of them had zero experience in any of their assigned roles. They were also under a tight time schedule as we had a field trip planned to launch our next, grade-wide project. There was no way that we could not give them more time. From my perspective I wished I had organized the editing part of the project better.

In PBL we always say that “the process is more important than the product.” In this case I feel that is true. The final product may not have turned out to be anything that the students are proud of but the effort and the skills learned were. I also know that future video projects will be better due to this experience. You don’t win an Oscar in your first movie. So though I was disappointed at first due to unrealistic expectations on my part, upon reflection I am proud of what students did and how they grew from the experience.