Digital responses

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Academic assignments must be enhanced by the use of technology, rather than dominated by it. Student generated digital media assignments are able to heighten learner engagement by taking advantage of new accessible technologies such as phone memo tools, MP3 recorders, and pocket-sized video cameras as well as simple audio, screencasting and video software. These technologies allow the academic pioneer to extend the learning environment and the methods available to them in supporting deeper learning. At the same time they can help to address the needs and expectations of students preparing for a world that values digitally fluent graduates.
This paper compares the experience of four modules which have each taken innovative approaches to running such digital media assignments. In each case the learners' capacity to respond in an academically meaningful way will be considered and the academic's capacity to devise, support and deliver the assignments will be reviewed. The presenters will report on the practicalities, risks and benefits of setting innovative digital media assignments and identify common emerging themes from setting, marking and offering feedback on the student work. The four case studies that inform this paper involve a digital storytelling assignment in Computer Science, an assignment that requires the student production of supplementary digital media to a written report on Virtual Reality Applications, a narrative machinima assignment for Game Design students, and a digital poster assignment for a Business module on emerging markets.
Initial findings in this ongoing work indicate that a lack of precedent necessitates a further layer of academic resourcefulness, risk and commitment, especially in relation to working with existing technical infrastructure and support. A well articulated assignment brief, tutor modelling, and proactive and reactive guidance are some features that need to be in place. The assignments allow some students to flourish, whilst others are less ambitious. These findings, and others, will be discussed in more depth.
In conclusion, these small studies show how emerging digital media technologies extend the range of methods available to staff and students in the sector's blended learning environments; however, infrastructural development is required before such innovation can be expected to scale.

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Digital responses

  1. 1. Digital Responsesthemes emerging from the setting ofdigital media-enhanced learning assignments<br />Andrew MiddletonOksanaFedotova, Richard Mather, Cathy Malone and Diane RushtonSheffield Hallam University<br />(cc) h.koppdelaney <br />
  2. 2. This is about...<br />Extending the learning environment with digital media<br />Digital voices<br />Being an innovator<br />Learner-generated media<br />
  3. 3. Responding to digital variety <br />Capacity and benefits in setting and responding to<br />User-generated digital media assignments<br />(cc) kevindooley 2008<br />
  4. 4. 4 Case Studies<br />4 interviews with academic innovators<br />4 with their students<br />Digital posters<br />Virtual reality machinima<br />Digital storytelling<br />Games-based machinima<br />(cc) Flutterbudget 2010<br />
  5. 5. 1. Digital posters<br />Digital posters:<br />Learner’s screencast voice structured by a simple graphic arrangement<br />20 students x 2 (FT and PT )Business module on Globalisation<br />What: developing academic literacy skills through EBL towards creating a common pool of background data on emerging markets in different countries.<br />(cc) Moleitau 2009<br />
  6. 6. 2. Virtual reality machinima<br />Machinima:<br />“digital films created in IVWs or digital games.“<br />Accessible and open spaces in which to form representations of knowledge. (Middleton & Mather 2008)<br />16 students<br />What: Produce an artefact that provides insight on an aspect of virtual reality that has interested you.<br />Machinima techniques were adopted by several students<br />(cc) Planetart 2009<br />Middleton, A. & Mather, R. (2008) Machinima interventions: innovative approaches to immersive virtual world curriculum integration. ALT-J: Research in Learning Technology, Vol. 16, No. 3. (2008), pp. 207-220.<br />
  7. 7. 3. Digital storytelling<br />Digital stories:<br />“media artefacts combining still images and sound, created and edited by individuals or groups using cameras and computers." (Jenkins & Lonsdale 2007)<br />13 Computing Innovation students<br />What: evaluate multimedia technology by producing a digital story and writing a report.<br />(cc) torres21 2009<br />Martin Jenkins and Jo Lonsdale (2007) “Evaluating the effectiveness of digital storytelling for student reflection,” in ICT: Providing choices forlearners and learning (presented at the ASCILITE, Singapore, http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/singapore07/procs/jenkins.pdf.<br />
  8. 8. 4. Digital commentary<br />Digital commentary:<br />analytic layer over machinima of game play.<br />93 Theory of Game Design students (Level 4)<br />What: students are required to analyse complex interactive media using their digital narrative.<br />(cc) awesomerealm 2009<br />
  9. 9. Headline findings<br />From interviews conducted with staff and students<br />“I wanted to give them a space that they could take some ownership of, and that's what happened.”<br />(cc) fatmandy 2009<br />
  10. 10. Academic readiness<br />“I was enthused [by Digital Posters] and I was quite surprised given that I am quite IT phobic... I think the students pick that up”<br />To give and support digital media assignments<br />Using media professionally can be scary<br />Personal experience led to confidence:<br />“You can’t expect students to do what you haven’t done”<br />What we can do is often determined by timetabling(space, software, hardware)<br />“I don't think I'd have set it if I hadn't been able to do it myself.”<br />(cc) fatmandy 2009<br />
  11. 11. Learner readiness<br />To being given digital media assignments<br />Students expectations are varied<br />Many not done anything like this before<br />Digital media - not the easy option<br />Digital media - the open option<br />Students trust academics<br />Student: “I just had so many ideas, I thought I can do this, I can do this.”<br />(cc) I’maGirafe 2008<br />
  12. 12. Setting the assignment<br />Things to think about when setting digital media assignments<br />Alignment in rich assessment<br />(Primary and secondary outcomes)<br />Danger: students can think this is about media<br />Focus on content – not form(even if the form is what is different for you!)<br />Clear, early and regular briefing is key<br />Assessment grids/rubrics <br />Class and podcast briefing<br />Manageability: time-delimited design<br />“I didn't want it to be at all ambiguous”<br />“There was no room for misunderstanding”<br />
  13. 13. Literacy and ‘bridging’<br />Student: “I put my diagnostic screencast on YouTube, I felt it was a much easier way to get ... people to comment on it.”<br />Learning through digital media assignments<br />Creating an enquiry framework<br />Asynchronisity: layers of engagement<br />Different media reveal different insight<br />Familiar forms and language leading to critical thinking<br />“We just sat there with a phone and recorded ourselves speaking into it for quite a while, then we'd listen back to it and figure out what we were missing.”<br />Student: “It was quite easy to go over [6 minute limit] …it helps you to really focus what you were trying to put across.”<br />(cc) akshay_pulipaka 2008<br />
  14. 14. On assessment design<br />Assessment for learning<br />“I didn’t want to ask them to develop skills in something that would not be useful to them ever again.”<br />(cc) Pink Sherbet Photography 2006<br />
  15. 15. Student: “Once I started I got over the main hurdle of what I was doing, how I was editing it and what I needed to do.”<br />Prepare<br />Keep It Simple Stupid<br />Early non-critical task: remove anxiety, form expectations, identify problems and other ‘hurdles'<br />Specify hardware, software, duration, formats, quality<br />Students love to over-complicate things! DON’T let them!<br />Test submission method(s)<br />Check and agree file quotas beforehand<br />(cc) Catharuna 2008<br />
  16. 16. How did you arrive at AVI?<br />"That was stupid. I should have listened to the students. They actually laughed about it when I said it!"<br />Support<br />Community<br />Peer mentors (academic and students)<br />Develop a co-operative ethos (self supporting)<br />YouTube screencasts sharing, etc<br />Communal Constructivism<br />Holmes, B., Tangney, B., FitzGibbon, A., Savage, T. and Meehan, S. (2001) Communal constructivism: students constructing learning for as well as with others. Proceedings of SITE 2001, Florida<br />(cc) Kalieye 2007<br />
  17. 17. Creativity<br />Exploring difference through a digital media assignment<br />Open-endedness: “room”<br />Tension:creativity /motivation | manageability<br />Student: “The projects that we made were all about creative freedom, and that was great. Once I got into it I was loving it, and I'd love to do it again, and I'd do the report again and not make as big a hash of it.”<br />
  18. 18. Benefits 1<br />Undertaking digital media assignments<br />Valuing voice<br />Varied assessment diet<br />Clear framework for enquiry<br />(cc) Tanakawho 2008<br />
  19. 19. Benefits 2<br />Undertaking digital media assignments<br />Academic literacy(bridging or ‘becoming academic’)<br />Ways in to academic engagement<br />Inherent motivation<br />Research exigency<br />Evaluating sources<br />Voicing knowledge – “finding and using the right words for the first time”<br />Selecting evidence<br />Reviewing knowledge<br />Presenting knowledge<br />(cc) Future darkmatter 2005<br />
  20. 20. Benefits 3<br />Undertaking digital media assignments<br />Communal Constructivism<br />asynchronous collective knowledge building <br />being responsible for each other<br />Authenticity<br />”I felt like a games developer when I was doing it, I felt in that comfort zone, I felt I could do this, I could go out in the real world and actually do this for a living. It was great, I felt happy making that piece of work.”<br />“Snap, me too.”<br />Student: “A really great way to showcase what you have learned.”<br />(cc) Afloden 2008<br />
  21. 21. Benefits 4<br />Undertaking digital media assignments<br />Many levels of engagement(e.g. Game-based machinima commentaries)<br />Action<br />Recording<br />Analysis<br />Articulation<br />Reflection<br />Self-efficacy:making innate creativity explicit<br />Inclusive<br />(cc) Amagil 2005<br />
  22. 22. Conclusions 1<br />Mediation<br />Open ended: room to think creatively<br />Multiple layers of meaning through asynchronous engagement<br />Richness: focus on primary outcomes and know there will be secondary outcomes<br />Media innovation<br />Layers of complexity have to be managed <br />Start small, find a mentor<br />Stop it if it’s not scalable or sustainable<br />Fix down technology to open academic creativity<br />(cc) miss_blackbutterfly 2008<br />
  23. 23. Conclusions 2<br />Communicate<br />academic rationale and expectations<br />rubrics, talk throughs, feedback<br />Co-operative ethos (different to collaboration)<br />Bridging <br />deeply engage learner, develop confidence in knowledge construction methods <br />Being creative - becoming responsible and critical<br />(cc) Nrbelex 2007<br />
  24. 24. Thanks to all of the Flickr photographers who post their work usingCreative Commons licences<br />

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