Student Produced Video Field Trips


5 - Before: Equipment Planning ↓

The simplest videos require nothing more than a video camera or webcam attached to a laptop computer with a GOOD Internet connection and unblocked access to the video streaming site.

Audio is better for interviews if you have a hand-held mike you can connect to the camera or computer. Usually this requires an extended cable, too. Often the computer expects the audio to come from the camera, not a separate device, so it may be simplest to plug into a mike jack on the camera. This depends on your camera and computer. Pretesting is the only way to be sure.

Planning and documenting the first time makes every subsequent broadcast simple for this class or any future class. Take the time to write things down. It is worth it.

close ↑

Assemble needed equipment ↓


  • Laptop with fully charged, reliable battery
  • Video camera and cable to connect to laptop


  • tripod or something for the cameraperson to lean on to steady the camera (ex. monopod, chair, nearby countertop)
  • hand held mike and long cable to connect to camera (adapters/extensions are easy to find at Radio Shack)
  • extension cords and power adapter (if power is available) and/or extra batteries
  • cell phone to call and check on broadcast signal reception in contact classroom
  • digital camera to photograph the set up and document the process on the day of the show

close ↑

Check & double check performance reliability ↓

Along with your student team, test the equipment by making a brief test video strictly for technical considerations. Do this after school or at lunch one day from your classroom. Be sure to run the camera and laptop on batteries for at least twice as long as your planned event to be sure they will not "die." Watch for things like automatic shut-off of the video camera when in "standby" mode for more than a few minutes (how long??). You may need to have a TAPE running the some video cameras to keep them in Record/broadcast mode.

Have student tech director(s) make a detailed equipment list and step-by-step list of the successful procedures for set up, broadcast, and watching archived videos. Save the steps in a computer file for future reference by you and others in your school. If you or your students are able, take digital pictures of the set-up as well. Keep those images together with the directions.

Ideally, you would already have checked on this as part of your check of school policies.

close ↑

Have extra batteries, cables, etc. on hand ↓

Make a fix-it kit tote bag with duct tape, pens/paper, extra batteries, cables, etc. Ideally this bag could be kept ready to go for future events. Include an inventory in the bag so the next class can double check. (Once your first broadcast is successful, revise and laminate the inventory.) Appoint a student or two to be the "tech support managers" in charge of the bag and make them aware of how important it is to have everything they need. Have them help make the list! They will be the experienced experts for future shows.

close ↑



Photos taken during a video field trip by Merriwether Lewis Elementary, Portland, Oregon in celebration of Earth Day 2009.