Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Review: ClearPlay in the classroom #edchat


 

One of the biggest problems I encounter as an English teacher is finding appropriate movie versions of books we read in class. Even though the content in the book may have bad language or some violence, I am not allowed to show a movie that depicts the content in the book. I think it is silly, but it is the system I have to work in. If there is a movie I really like, but it has some objectionable material, I have to stand ready to hit the mute button on the remote to block out a certain word or a certain scene. Now there is a device that can do that for me.

ClearPlay is a DVD player that can block all of the nasty stuff a person wants from a movie and make it appropriate for any age level. Here is how it works. A person purchases a ClearPlay DVD player. The player comes with a FilterStik flash drive. The person signs up for a ClearPlay membership ($79.99/year or $7.99/mo) which gives them access to all of the Filters ClearPlay has available. The person downloads the filters for the movie they want and plugs the FilterStik into the DVD player. Once the movie is in, the person can select with filters they want on (Violence, Langauge, Sex, etc) and watch the move.

Below is a video showing ClearPlay in use on The Today Show.


 

Now, my first thought was cool, but I'm not going to be showing The Matrix in my classroom any time soon. I started to think about some of the movies I might want to show, but could never do it because of certain parts. The one movie that jumped out at me was Dracula. Dracula is part of the Freshmen English Curriculum in my school district. The 90's movie version holds close to the book in many ways and it would be great to show in class if it were not for the graphic nudity and violence. I could never be quick enough on the remote to block the material. So, I downloaded the filters for Dracula, hooked up the ClearPlay DVD player and watched the movie with the selected filters turned on.

About an hour into the movie, I realized I had stopped pay attention to the filtered content. That sounds bad, but it is a huge plus in my book. I didn't really realize what I was missing. There were some scenes where there was a noticeable cut from a violent act, but nothing that really disrupted the flow of the movie. The major edits only really stood out to me because I really liked the movie and had seen in many times. A classroom full of students would have no idea what they missed. 

I see a place for ClearPlay in the classroom for teachers looking to show movies, but edit out the content. I could see showing Stand By Me to my students to explore the theme of coming of age, but I would need to cut some of the language out. I think a school could buy one DVD player and a membership and share the player on a cart. Long term, the value is worth it if you can show more movies to support the curriculum that is being covered in class. 

I recommend that teachers and administrators take a look at ClearPlay and see if they can use it in their building.


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