Learning by Doing: Getting Practical with Digital Media

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Photo by Adam Brown, 23 September 2013

The types of teaching videos I’ve put together have changed over time. In 2013, I began making what I called ‘meLectures‘, which comprised weekly reflections on unit content via talking head footage, conversations with various people, and the more important/influential/entertaining footage of my maltese-shitzu companion Tiffany.

In 2015, I started taking out my guest ‘interviews’ to upload them separately in a Talking Digital Media playlist. These videos have seen me chat with other academics, industry practitioners, postgraduate students, and very shortly, undergraduate students. They are premised on the twin notions that all perspectives are valid and multiple perspectives are always better than one (which is usually what is offered in a traditional lecture setting). A related idea behind these videos is that when teaching such a diverse range of topics underneath the broad umbrella of ‘digital media’, I can never be anything approaching an expert. Besides, any claims of ‘expert’ status by anybody working in the online world are rightly looked upon with skepticism and suspicion.

By early 2016, my meLectures were replaced entirely by three playlists: the ongoing list of Talking Digital Media conversations, short Digital Media Snapshot reflections on unit topics and assessment, and a series of Getting Practical with Digital Media videos. This last playlist sought to offer broad advice for students to keep in mind when setting up profiles on different platforms or to highlight certain conventions to bear in mind when making media. As all of my videos show, with very few exceptions I do not teach students how to do things – not least of all because, given the accessible and user-friendly nature of contemporary online media, I don’t need to. Therefore, a common thread woven throughout the Getting Practical with Digital Media playlist is that people learn how to use digital media by using it. Learning by making and doing is the key.

A key benefit of the brief Getting Pratical with Digital Media videos is that I can re-use them in future units. Many students I teach have not completed the unit for which the above videos were initially designed. In a time when pre-requisites are becoming increasingly scarce, undertaking that earlier unit is not essential to completing another one. However, these videos can help get those new students up to speed with the fundamentals of making content across different platforms and surge ahead with their online interactions.

My ‘Area 1: Foundation Land‘ videos cover the need to think carefully and strategically about one’s identity when constructing online profiles, the value of using Twitter in a teaching and learning context, and the crucial topic of Creative Commons licensed material (which very few students have any awareness of when I first meet them). This first group of videos have been embedded into the prezi linked below:

Area 1 Prezi

The ‘Area 2: Exploration World‘ prezi brings together videos that draw attention to some key elements to consider when starting up a blog, including the hyperlinking and embedding of multimedia content, among other things. The brevity of some of these videos reveals just how straightforward some processes – even when they are crucially important ones – can actually be…

Area 2 Prezi.png

The last ‘Area 3: Advanced Star‘ videos focus on advice for making videos, which is invariably the most nerve-wracking experience for students who have never engaged in such an activity before. Nonetheless, video-making is an increasingly central part of many, many industries, and while it can be a time and effort-intensive exercise, it is also one of the most rewarding things that anyone can ever do in terms of media production.

Area 3 Prezi.png

There is roughtly one hour of footage in total across the thirteen videos embedded here, and asking people in a time and attention-poor society to sit and watch a video even for an average of 5 minutes is a big ask. While I hope that students do set aside the time to view them (the stats so far have been promising at least), the main point is that watching these videos should inspire many more hours of microblogging, blogging, and vlogging by others. My videos might provide a small nudge toward this, but as one student’s comment on my last Getting Practical video noted, getting practical oneself is the crux:

 

Great advice, Adam! Learning so much from just doing 🙂

 

Feeatured image: Photo by Adam Brown, 6 October 2013

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