Sunday, 3 March 2013

The Art of a Duct Tape Tutorial

When Isabelle proclaimed that her 10th birthday party was going to be a duct tape party, I thought, What in the world? The last time I used duct tape was to put together cardboard boxes.  And with images of 4th grade girls taping together box after box in my head, I sat there shaking my head until Isabelle told me about all of the things you can make like wallets, belts, purses, and more just by using duct tape.

With time ticking away, and the party looming,  I had to go right to the experts to learn how to make duct tape essentials for Isabelle's party.   I went to YouTube.  My teacher was Ducttapecreations808, a girl whom I've never met nor ever will.  I don't even know her real name.  But with nearly 1 million hits and over 5,000 subscribers for her 78 videos, Ducttapecreations808 clearly knows what she's doing.  

Pressing play and pause over and over, I picked up each sticky step and tricky move in making a duct tape purse.  I replayed parts that I didn't understand, and in no time at all, I finished my first creation.  So that's how it went.  Purse after purse, I relied on Ducttapecreations808's reliable guidance.  My eventual success was a direct result of the upclose video, personal instruction, and ability to work at my own pace.

Video tutorials are nothing new for learning. They've been around for years, and they're my go to genre when trying to figure something out from how to use a Google function to choosing the right kind of kitchen knife.  Video tutorials have also made an impact on our profession as the idea of the flipped classroom has transformed some classes, albeit with mixed results.

This whole experience got me thinking.  Why don't we add the video tutorial to our list of 21st century genres to teach?  One obvious possibility is to have students choose something they're good at or something they love and have them make a tutorial on it.  This would replace the old "How to" presentation and raise it to a new level as students apply effective tutorial techniques (camera angles, introductions, conclusions, etc.) to make it stand out.

This idea is okay, but I think there's something even better.  At the end of a unit, students could pick their one technique "take away" to focus on in a tutorial.  They could show a before and after of their work and explain practical steps on how to incorporate the technique into the viewer's craft.   Not only would this reinforce their learning, they would also be sharing it out in a much more meaningful way than answering a question on a reflection sheet that only their teacher or parents end up reading.  Eventually, with a running list of tutorials, we can use them with students who are still struggling with concepts and techniques.  

Maybe I'm an idealist, but who knows, teaching students how to make video tutorials could lead them to having their own YouTube channels with loads of reading and writing tutorials and hundreds of subscribers just like Ducttapecreations808.


  1. Love it. Funny thing is, I actually watched a duct tape tutorial myself this weekend as I contemplated buying a GoPro chest harness (apparently you can do it for nearly free with duct tape .) Whether we "assign" it or not, it is a genre - and a genre that all sorts of people are familiar with. Why not use it in the classroom and teach our students to communicate in one more authentic way.

    1. Don't know if the harness would've been a hit at the 10 year old party, but cool nonetheless. It's also another reason why I'm considering investing in duct tape. Did you know you could make a harness with duct tape showcasing your favorite sports team logo?

  2. So easy to do with Macs -- just use PhotoBooth to capture the kids talking. Another easy screen capture to show kids, say, revising/editing, is QuickTime -- it just captures them chatting and clicking away on their screen. Love it!

  3. I was thinking of these tools too, and I was wondering if they can do a combo of PhotoBooth and QuickTime to make it personal. It's Apple, so I'm sure it's possible.