Production as Plugin: Rethinking Methods

I had outlined seven common methods faculty might use to help students learn the techniques of video production for their assignments. They are:

  • Prep exercises/assignments
  • In-class workshops
  • Additional workshops
  • Exemplars
  • Peer learning
  • Faculty-guided self-learning
  • Simple self-learning

Unlike my thinking about faculty concerns, my approach to outlining these methods was more grounded in specific evidence drawn from several sources: assignments posted by other faculty to the teachingmedia.org site, a few of my own assignments, and a broader selection of course materials posted by faculty in media studies (the site itself is oriented toward media studies faculty specifically, hence the latter group). I did a short post recently re-linked the urls for most of the original examples I had used in the original post, and if you look through those, I think you’ll see the same range of approaches to supporting student learning for video assignments that I did.

My labels for some of these are a bit obscuring (e.g.: “prep exercises” refers to the broad range of scaffolding assignments for video as well as less complex practice assignments). However, the general movement above from top to bottom is from more hands-on, time-intensive activities built deliberately into the course to more hands-off ones faculty might rely on instead. In fact, looking back at it now, I notice the word “time” appears 18 times in the 1800 word piece (which is probably too high a rate for almost any word), which only underscores the time-based framework I laid out.

Here what I’d like to do is reconsider some other factors besides time that make these approaches more or less useful in different contexts. Complexity of work, degree of guidance, and the role of creating versus analyzing in each assignment are three additional instructional design factors worth thinking about more deeply.

Complexity of work recognizes that some assignments will have more steps and/or interrelated elements than others, and more complex these are, the more attention will be required both on the part of the faculty member to explain and supervise student work (lest they misunderstand the assignment), and on the part of the student work through the process with sustained focus and deliberation.

Degree of guidance refers to how much an instructor is involved in overseeing the work students are doing. Note that this need not be the faculty member: it could be other institutional staff or someone off site. Also, this is separate from complexity: even a simple assignment may need careful guidance on the part of the instructor. This is often especially true when students are first learning the skills necessary for a video assignment.

Creating versus analyzing draws attention to the extent to which an assignment requires students to analyze existing works, drawing connections to their own work process, versus to create something new that relates to video. Some blend of both is probably ideal as the two modes complement each other, but at the level of an individual assignment, either one is privileged heavily over the other, or they are separated entirely.

In the next three posts, I will look back at each of the seven methods from the original piece using each of these three as a new lens to look deeper at them.

One thought on “Production as Plugin: Rethinking Methods

  1. Pingback: Production as Plug-in Limitations, Schedule | Join the Conversation

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