What if...? Community Videos

What if we posed regular "What if...?" or "How might we...?" questions to our community and recorded answers to share in assemblies?

Photo of Moss Pike
15 13

Written by

Ver. 8/13/2015


Thanks to a number of great ideas on using physical space (e.g., Hannah's idea on inspiring student creativity), I am inspired to reimagine how we share ideas within schools in assemblies and other all-community meetings. I'd love to work with others in building a prototype of the idea by building a team. Let me know if you'd like to come on board!

How It Works

  • What  Record videos of various community members responding to a thematic question posed every week, month, etc. Videos can be recorded and shared on YouTube, Vine, Periscope, etc.
  • Who  Someone in the community (e.g., student council?) takes charge of asking everyone in the community, including students, faculty, staff, and parents, the question. Short answers are given and edited into a single video.
  • Where  Videos are recorded everywhere the community extends. After videos are recorded and edited, they can be shown at community events, e.g. assemblies, parent events, admissions, events, etc.
  • When  Recording can be made any time of the day.
  • Why  Questions that inspire creativity and imagination have the power to reinforce culture in the way explained by James' idea that we "cultivate what we celebrate." Community members can rally around a shared question, and through celebrating the community's collective imagination and ideas, I can see how we can start to build an innovative culture.

How It Works

First, questions are selected by the community, perhaps by a committee (involving students!) or through a community vote. Questions are then posed to the community, recorded, and edited into an easily-shareable movie. Individual videos can be shared on Twitter, Vine, etc. using a school hashtag (as explained by Dea!). Consider some sample questions (also found here in a Google Doc):

        • What if….?

        • I am grateful for...

        • I can….

        • How might we….?

        • _____ makes me happy!

        • Before I graduate I want to….

        • I want to explore….

        • Wouldn’t it be cool if _____?

        • If you weren’t scared, what would you do?

        • What amazes you?

Potential For Impact

As mentioned under "Why" above, sharing creative and imaginative answers to inspiring questions can galvanize the community and create buy-in to a culture that values thinking outside the box.  As the idea becomes more entrenched within the community, we could scale the idea further by inviting people to start working on solutions based on some of the ideas shared, leading to design challenges or even hosting a "What if...?" conference. In time, a culture that celebrates imagination in this way could be much more supportive of innovation.

It would also be rather easy to create contests and award ideas, based on answers to the question. For example, we could give a prize for the "Most Creative," "Biggest Imagination," "Wackiest," "Biggest Risk," etc.

Scaling and Adapting

"What if..?" videos can be scaled and adapted quite easily, depending on budget and time constraints.

  • Cheap/low maintenance: A simple "What if...?" board can be shared in a public place, on which community members write answers to questions on Post-It notes.
  • More time-intensive: Videos are recorded and produced by the community and shared through social media. This version requires students or faculty to have the capability of recording and editing video (easily done with a mobile phone and YouTube). More importantly, someone would need to actively monitor the school's social media pages.

Evaluation results

6 evaluations so far

1. Potential for Impact: Imagine this solution had near perfect implementation. To what extent would this solution bring about a culture of innovation within a school or classroom?

A lot! This solution would greatly bring about a culture of innovation in schools or classrooms. - 50%

Somewhat. This solution would somewhat bring about a culture of innovation in schools or classrooms. - 50%

Not much. This solution might help with other things, but I don't see it really bringing about a culture of innovation within schools or classrooms. - 0%

2. Feasibility and Fit: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: If this solution were available to me right now, I would be able to use it with relatively low investment. (i.e. money, time, or skills).

Strongly agree (this solution strongly aligns to my/my school's current capacities). - 33.3%

Agree. - 33.3%

Neutral. - 16.7%

Disagree. - 16.7%

Strongly disagree (this solution would take a big lift in resources to pull off). - 0%

3. Adaptability: I could imagine this solution working well in a variety of school and classroom contexts across a diverse set of needs.

Absolutely! I could see this working for a variety of schools and classrooms with different or unique needs. - 50%

Somewhat. I could see this working for many schools and classrooms, but it might need some adjusting to fit a broad diversity of contexts. - 50%

Not a lot. This seems like it might be better suited to only a few contexts. - 0%

4. Scalability: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: This idea could be adopted by an ever-growing number of teachers or students without requiring significant changes.

Strongly agree (this solution could easily scale without any significant changes). - 50%

Agree. - 16.7%

Neutral. - 0%

Disagree. - 33.3%

Strongly disagree (this solution would require significant changes in order to properly scale). - 0%

5. Desirability: Do you wish this solution were available to you right now?

1 - Not a lot. There's not a big need for this right now and/or we use something already that fulfills a similar purpose in my school or classroom. - 0%

2 - 0%

3 - 16.7%

4 - 50%

5 - A lot! There's nothing like this already and I'd love to have it in my school or classroom. - 33.3%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Elysa Fenenbock

I do love the idea of sharing great videos, and potentially even giving some of that responsibility to some of the digitally savvy students. I'd also love to make creating great stories easy for everyone. I wonder if developing some kind of template or framework for the video might make capturing compelling stories easier. For instance, the StoryCorp App (https://teachersguild.org/challenge/how-might-we-create-rituals-and-routines-that-establish-a-culture-of-innovation-in-our-classrooms-and-schools/discover/storycorps-app-to-the-rescue) is great at helping people conduct compelling interviews by giving users a list of interesting interview questions. I wonder if there is a similar way to give teachers/students step by step instructions in creating interesting stories.

For instance:
1. Show the HMW question (on a post-it, in sidewalk chalk, on a board) in an interesting visual way with interesting fade-in music.
2. Clip to 6-8 people responding to the question. Only let them talk for 15 seconds at a time; you can switch back and forth between them
3. Clip in: "This makes me think about..." and then visually show a follow-up question based on the observations. And/or 2-3 more quick responses.
4. End with a provocation and some inspiring fade out music.
5. Video is 60 seconds max

Clearly, that would have be prototyped and evolved over time as I don't know what the right 'formula'/template would be; maybe you need a few templates?

Photo of Moss Pike

Hi Elysa! I've thought about this idea in the same way, based on the use of a template and guidelines of some sort. We could easily centralize the video, or we could encourage community members to make and share their own on social media (if appropriate). Love the idea of doing something along the lines of the StoryCorp app, too. Dan Ryder has piqued my interest in Periscope and Vine, and I've intended on investigating them for this purpose.

I'm also very interested in the common space between the "What If?" video idea and your "Walk-Waze." If we build imaginative and creative spaces on campus, perhaps we could produce video interactions with them in a number of ways. Something to think about, and I'm eager to chat through more ideas!

Photo of William Cavada

I really like the visual this adds and it connects the viewer to the topic. I will be taking and discussing these ideas with my students. Our videos will play on community access station. Your local Community Access Station is a great option for airing your video.

Photo of Moss Pike

A belated thanks, William! How has the experiment been going for you? Would love to hear more about how the videos are affecting culture in your school. Great idea to take advantage of a community access station, too! Will have to look into our options more and see what we can do.

Photo of William Cavada

I will be taking and running with this concept for a monthly series video series at my school. We have a media lab and the equipment.

Photo of Elysa Fenenbock

I'd like to bring another Googler, Tien, (https://teachersguild.org/profiles/109315867248693710875) into this conversation. I think she might have some great suggestions for iterating and implementing this idea.

Photo of Moss Pike

Yes! I'd love to have Tien join us, and I'm looking forward to working on the idea with her!

Photo of Tien Chang

Thanks, Elysa!

Hi Moss, glad to work with you on this idea! It sounds great so far - I love provoking creative and out-of-the-box thinking, especially for kids. It'd be lovely if we could get heartfelt and awe-filled responses from students, similar to how Humans of New York (https://www.facebook.com/humansofnewyork) draws honest and reflective responses.

Moss, I'll send you an email soon so we can sync over Google Hangouts sometime this week. I'd love to chat about how low-level and high-level prototypes will look like.

Photo of Bob Weiman

I am just catching up on my Teachers Guild idea reading and was particularly struck by this one. I love the idea of posing such thoughtful questions as a way to spark dialogue, reflection, and creative thinking. And video would be a perfect medium to share and highlight some of these ideas. This summer a local business woman erected a chalk board on a busy street that said "I wish I had the courage to..." and it became a wonderful outlet for self-expression in the neighborhood. http://www.alexandrianews.org/i-wish-i-had-the-courage-to/ I wonder how your project idea could connect with the broader community.

Photo of Moss Pike

Thanks, Bob; I appreciate your comments! And thanks for sharing the link! What strikes me about it is how personal and "human" this kind of questioning can be (and I see it in Belmont's smile!). I too would love to connect more broader with the community, perhaps by sharing videos on social media using Vine or Periscope. It'd be a great experiment to try, and I'd love to know if any schools are doing something like this.

Photo of Elysa Fenenbock

Love how this builds over time. And gets early buy-in and excitement around ideas that resonate more with the group. Really appreciate how it's also a 'marketing' tool to get people to take on challenges. Cool.

Photo of Moss Pike

Thanks, Elysa--much appreciated! Many of your ideas, including the Conversation Wall, have helped me to build this one up. In a similar way, I'm hoping to get conversations started that require imagination, while also reflecting the unique personality of everyone in a community. I'm interested to see what it'd take to sustain the idea over the course of an entire academic year and support its evolution. Might faculty be able to work questions into coursework? Hopeful to test it out soon!

Photo of Elysa Fenenbock

I really like the idea of embedding the questions into coursework; would be interesting to see how different teachers and different classrooms respond to the questions. Seems like a great way to quickly spread new thinking throughout the school.

Photo of Moss Pike

Yes! It'd be a helpful and potentially of great interest to consider how the questions are shaped by different curricula. And it may be a good way to generate more cross-curricular discussions and perhaps even more interdisciplinary work. If the questions permitted such an approach, we could ask for answers to be given from the mindset of a language student, physicist, poet, etc.

Photo of Richard Brehl

I think this could be a very effective way of inspiring followup to HMW questions posed to the community. As a teacher I love the way it gives kids a chance to practice verbal communication skills and build confidence. They'll also need to practice the writing process as they hone their pitch script. Persuasive writing and speaking - this would do a lot in addition to inspiring innovation and collaboration.
I find myself thinking about how the ideas are followed through and implemented. In addition to the prize idea, I wonder if kids could vote with their interest in specific pitches. Could we allow kids to work on pitches that interest them most, form teams to work on ideas with other interested kids, etc.? So, to your question below about whether faculty might work challenges into coursework, I say yes. I feel like we need to make room in the curriculum for tackling challenges as learning opportunities and integrating design of real-world solutions to real world challenges into our teaching and learning.