Hulu – Making TV Better for the Classroom?
I’m addicted….late night viewings of Food Revolution, Wired Science, and Community are just a few of the television shows that have kept me up far past my bedtime recently. To be fair, I was addicted to TV long before Hulu came around, and after cutting ourselves lose from all manner of paid TV last Fall, I’ve still managed to get “my fix” of new shows (albeit a day or two late) thanks to what has arguably become the best way to watch TV on the web.
Which got me thinking about how we use TV in the classroom, or rather don’t use. Every room in my building is wired for cable, an expense the district pays for, yet the TVs are almost never on, get used primarily during records’ day when teachers are alone in their rooms, or they’re used for viewing a DVD or VHS tape with the class.
So why is it then that we continue to pay for the service? Is it one of those “just in case” expenses? More importantly, why aren’t television broadcasts being used more in the classroom? Arguments against exposing students to the commercials is really moot, considering all of the advertisements we expose them to on webpages. The one-way, non-interactive, consumable nature of television can be a big issue as far as effective teaching and learning is concerned, but media, especially visual media, can be an effective tool at times. The last big issue preventing more use of TV in the classroom would be the big scheduling problem; the show you want the students to see isn’t on until 8:00 at night, and besides, you can probably find it on YouTube later so there’s no point in recording it.
And that’s where my thoughts led me to Hulu. We’re already subjecting students to massive amounts of advertisements on all of the free websites we use (guilty as charged). We’re already using video that we’re finding for free from other sites, but having to go through the hassle of downloading it (YouTube, Vimeo, etc), converting it and/or putting it somewhere on the network where it can only be accessed at school. Many teachers have highly trafficked websites for their classrooms, which students and parents are using regularly. Perhaps the website-ready, embeddable-friendly, search-able database of the on demand Hulu video library might be something worth exploring then.
You could easily embed a video panel with short clips from the “Big Ideas Small Planet” series to help illustrate examples of sustainability in a science lesson.
Or you could even embed a full NOVA documentary about deciphering ancient Mayan language to provide students studying world cultures or history with instant access to high quality media, or supplemental materials for when they get home.
I realize that Hulu is probably blocked in many schools (it’s blocked in mine), so an idea like this might be for a more progressive community. At the very least, using Hulu embedded videos, a teacher could pass rich visual media to their students at home via a classroom website, especially if the district doesn’t have the means to purchase a subscription to Discovery Streaming, or wants to avoid the somewhat less than desirable corners of YouTube.