Last week I was chosen to be a participant in a 2-year study on using a Flip Mino video camera in the classroom. Admittedly, I know very little about the Flip but I've been using digital video cameras in my classroom for a long time, so I really didn't see the big deal.
Even though my Flip Mino has only been out the box for about a week, I've already noticed some definite advantages to using it versus a traditional digital video camera.
I'm fortunate to teach in a district that has a healthy technology budget, so digital video cameras have been accessible for years. When a teacher needs to sign one out, they head to a storage cabinet where each camera is stored in it's own insulated lunch sack. Although it's a more economic way of keeping things safe, you can't help feel like a bit of a dork walking down the hall with it. Look at the picture below. Think about taking one of those bags with you on a field trip. You're already holding your own lunch, the first aid kit, a stack of permission slips, student health alerts, and all the other things entrusted to a chaperone. Do you really want to carry a video camera in a lunch box too? The Flip's size is one of its biggest strengths. I could easily carry a dozen of them in one of those sacks (although I'd still feel like a dork).
Like most media devices, the Flip camera comes with software to help edit and manage your work. The advantage, however, is that the software is loaded onto the camera and can quickly be installed onto any computer that it plugs in to. No more losing installation CDs minutes after opening the box. You need no accessories, adapters, firewire cables, or attachments. To upload, flip (hence the name) the usb connector out, and plug it in. Done. The Flip is like a portable, traveling movie studio.
The MSRP for the Flip Mino (which is what I have in my pocket right now) is under $150. The high definition version is under $200. Considering the fact that it was first released just over a year ago, and the effect of Moore's Law on things like this, imagine the capability/cost ratio in a few years.
Ease of Use
There's an on button. And a giant red record button. To give you an idea of how easy it is to use the Flip, here is a video my daughter took. She's two years old. If a two-year-old can do it, so can you.
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