Vine in the Classroom

16 May

A Vine is a mobile app owned by twitter. It allows users to create and post six second videos and share on social media. Now you may think that having only six seconds to express yourself would be the kiss of death for education, but as a general principle restriction is the mother of creativity, and a quick look at the following should illustrate my point.


Having only six seconds to make any point forces a student to summarize information concisely and succinctly. To do this successfully you need to understand the content completely. Good vines usually involve adequate planning and accurate execution, skills that we should be promoting in our schools. In the English classroom, students could create vines in the persona of a character from literature, a character selfie instead of a character sketch, if you like, encouraging a student to step into the shoes of the character and try to understand their soul.

Students could also make six second videos illustrating points of grammar, or solving a Maths problem – the applications are virtually endless. You do not have to use the app either. Videos can be made using any technology and posted on any platform. They can be put together quite quickly too. Most kids have cell-phones capable of filming short clips, and VideoPad or something similar makes for a very handy editing tool. A six second clip should not take longer than about twenty minutes to film and edit!

Best of all vines are fun to make and watch – and should become a useful weapon in any teacher’s armoury.



2 responses to “Vine in the Classroom

  1. Steve Covello

    May 16, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Dorian – As always, an excellent post that moves the thinking forward. Now then – I hate to come off as a bucket of cold water, but being the McLuhanite that I am, I cringe a little.

    Taking “the medium as the message” here, the background effect of this strategy is to say, implicitly, that information seeks brevity at all costs to fit within the space that has been allocated for it. Speed supersedes depth. The “container” determines the method. Audiences cannot maintain attention beyond a half-minute or less.

    Yes – I see where you qualify this factor in your “kiss of death” statement. Agreed. My question then is where this strategy fits along the spectrum of active learning without muscling out the more important principles of deeper learning expressed in long form narrative?

    One of the most common problems I encounter in teaching online courses is student forum participation where brevity rules over critical thinking. I wouldn’t want to learners to become ingrained in this habit before they reach higher education.

    This may be a tempest in a teapot, but the constant pressure towards abbreviation in everything we do is cumulative, and perhaps influential in ways we would not intend. Still, the activity sounds like a lot of fun.


    • Dorian Love

      May 17, 2014 at 10:35 am

      Thanks for taking up the debate, Steve. I agree with you about the need for depth rather than breadth, and it’s probably where Education is most vulnerable right now! If I am reading things right, it seems to me as if we have two types of reading developing, one enabled by the affordances of print, and the other fueled by screen.

      Print, with its linear, narrative structure encourages the development of an argument, is logical and sequential. Screen with its hypertextual non-linearity, encourages and enables the synthesis of vast amounts of information. We need both, surely? And there is the challenge. We need to teach children two types of reading (and writing) both of which feed off the other.

      To evaluate the vast amount of information we can access we need the skills of deep reading and argument, and our ability to assess deep argument is enhanced by the volume of information we can instantly access, and which we need to synthesize.

      I am optimistic that a superior mind will result from developing both styles of reading and writing, but we need to learn how to do it! I think teacher conservatism over new technologies is probably the best thing we could have done, ensuring we don’t just abandon our strengths overnight in an orgy of enthusiasm for new technologies.

      When I’m in my English classroom we pore over texts in as much detail as we ever did.

      If you look at the video you will see that the English teacher used vines to allow her students to deal with unfamiliar Shakespearean language and get comfortable with it. I use my own abilities as an actor to mediate the text and help them get comfortable with it. I try to enthuse my students with my own passion and love of the details in the words. That’s my style in the classroom, and each teacher has their own.

      There is a point at which summarizing, though, is a very important depth skill. If I can read off an argument and summarize its main point that’s no shallow skill of brevity. A lot of thinking goes into a skillful summary! And I think that was my point – what teachers could use vine to achieve. How we teach kids to summarize is the key! A vine is simply a new way in which kids can display the summarizing skills they have learned.



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