Manipulating media is a course taken by all first year media studies students at the University of Winchester. The course was new in 2010/11, and is now going into its second iteration. Students taking the course work upon a number of live team briefs that present problems that require the use of academic literacy to be solved. The projects make extensive use of collaborative online learning. Students produce and deliver work using a number of web 2.0 applications and platforms, including reflective blogging. The course has proven very popular with students. This session will give an overview of the rationale behind the course, it’s implementation, and a number of learning points for us as tutors.
Media Studies degree, 30 credit module,Compulsory, Level 4Replaced: 'Researching Media Studies’;'Writing for Media Studies’Accompanied by Key Concepts in Media Studies & Media Studies in the 21st CenturyReplaced 2 modules with which students weren’t engaging -lots of marks in the 40s – issues with retention. Some of the content has gone into Level 5.
This is the focus of the module… assignments are chosen which help utilise/demonstrate these skills, rather than JUST because they are interesting/fun to do…
How it has been from the year dot, and probably still is in some of the older universities. Osmosis (how ‘read’ my PhD books!)
In the 1990s, courses in academic literacy began to be integrated into the curriculum, so more relevant, but…
Universities looking for centralisation/more cohesiveness, developed student support centres… all students knew where to go, and not RELIANT upon academic staff (removes some of staff workload), but detached from the subject.
Essentially providing learning by doing, so action learning within a constructionist frameworkCreation, construction & collaboration.. Engage with pre-existing experience, the importance of thinking & reflection… influenced by Piaget, von Glaserfeld, Seymour Papert, Dewey, Nicole Buzetto-Moore. We think that learners construct individual meaning - that IS learning, which means 1) we have to focus on the learner in thinking about learning (not on the subject/lesson to be taught): we need to remember that there is no knowledge independent of the meaning attributed to experience (constructed) by the learner, or community of learners.
This is one of the modules that was developed out of the TESTA process which was applied to the old modules –findings:i) students did not engage with the assignments and saw them as external to learning. ii) students did not internalise or integrate the goals and standards into their own framework – even though they understood what was expected of them in an academic setting they carried on making their previous mistakes – they simply did not change their behaviour.FASTECH - seeking technological options for pedagogical problems such as lack of continuity of effort, etc…
The course is front-loaded with 6 lectures. The first is an introductory lecture, and uses interactive exercises to get the students talking to each other, and start them thinking about what their Media Studies degree means. The next four focus on each of skills required for each of the project roles (teams of 4), which I’ll come back to, and the final session on reflective blogging.
E.g. One of the lectures to get them to think about how presentation, content, etc. affects decisions – so look at something familiar to them – university websites. 21 out of 30 off contributed (was compulsory!!) to blog comments… comments then drawn into the lecture afterwards.
All had LOVED the blog last year, but this year there were calls to move some of the material (e.g. the core lecture notes) back to the VLE… as this was what they were familiar with elsewhere.
On the final week, were asked to start up blogs… we offered suggestions of software (WordPress, though many chose Tumblr) – not restricted, so long as it had the functionality we required (commenting without logging in, etc.) – publicly available to the world. Requirement was at least 1 blog post a week, of at least 300 words.
We offered a mix of encouragement and ‘this will affect your mark adversely’ … although we hoped that the students would enjoy what they were doing and write much more than many did (and many seemed to equate enjoyment with effort – had to disabuse them of this idea!)
Strongest students seemed to get a lot out of it… including learning how to attract an audience online & working with difficult team members.
We also created a Facebook Group (Fresh one from last year) … worked v. well…
They all eventually joined, and whereas last year we’d kept sending emails via the forum, etc. this year – we’d get 1 of them to upload blog/Twitter details, etc. and suddenly a raft of others signed up too.
Tried to encourage debate before the lectures… a handful of responses was a little disappointing, but we could always emphasize this more next year…
We also created a Twitter account … We had all these tools, but I think, having got a lot clearer about the kind of assignments that we have, that we could do a lot more active participation with this & I think would encourage the students to engage more.
We were able to post some of the in-class work to Twitter – opportunities to discuss further, or to use as revision notes… here they are seeking to measure which of these they would “trust” most … So… a quick look through the projects…
Video to encourage going to university…. Hoped that they’d enjoy this & start to learn how to work together…
Each brief 3-4 pages long… with pretty clear instructions for what was expected in each role, as last year there had been complaints (as, no we hadn’t thought it through)… Groups change throughout, and they get no choice in who they are with. PM: Responsibility for time managementR: Academic researchC: Extract a structure, etc. from RP&D: Find the right design/layout, and marketSo how do we deal with that tricky problem of group work? We have divided the teams into 4 roles (each student should only do each role once, although some groups may be required to have 2 of a particular role). If there are 2 in a role, we expect to see more work for that role. The roles are Project Manager (time management, managing group dynamics, keeping the group on task); Researcher (academic research/referencing, ‘how to’/’legally allowed’ type queries, feeding information to content, and final checking of facts); Content (drawing on the research material to define a good core structure, writes background essays/presentations) and Production and Dissemination (turns the content into something interesting – headings/visuals, etc. & encourages viewers, handles all media management tasks and public facing roles) Each of these roles has a category assigned to it in the blog which clearly lays out what is expected from those roles - it indicates clearly how performance of the role relates to the learning outcomes for the module, plus tutors tend to talk it through with students for each new project. Therefore, if the content person has built something on very little research – we can award marks for doing a lot with little… LAST YEAR THEY ENGAGED WELL WITH THIS BLOG CONTENT, NOT SO WELL THIS YEAR.
Not going to watch, but a decent range, and most had put effort in. Watching it all together as a group & feeding back on each others made some of them embarrassed at lack of effort better than anything we could have said… think we reaped benefits in 2nd assignment
Early on – a more academic focused one – help with other modules also. Thinking about how to structure, write and then present on an academic topic – intended to encourage them into appropriate referencing, etc. & to use these in future assignments.
Throughout this course – no further lectures, but in between issue of assignment/submission – series of tutorials with each group – about 20 mins per group – they set the agenda, but we sought to keep them on track… note use of iPad for me to take notes, and us to look up particular ideas as issues arose.
No examples of this work as encouraged them to understand that ‘for academic purposes’ can use all kinds of images … but not in the public domain… They enjoyed this a lot, but this was one of the lowest marked assignments as they didn’t really think about the brief – just ‘had fun’… think they learnt from that in the next one
Final brief – comments indicate that they did ENJOY this one the most, but also put a decent amount of effort in – and in starting to share their ideas, spurred each other on to do ‘just a little bit more’…
We continued to encourage them on Facebook…
An example of a video (again, not going to watch)… one of the first to do something truly creative… inspired many of the others to do something more interesting…
They put time, money (recognising responsibility, not just expecting things on a plate?), effort in .. And it paid off… in 250 likes in under 3 weeks… comments/activity on FB…
Throughout we continued to have a frustration that they have gone for the easy skimming option in research – usually online … but it does help to distinguish students who are eligible for a 1st – having used books well!
This is what we expected the students to get out of it… Their work goes on public display, so there’s the chance they might get picked up outside the academy, and hopefully that they will put more care into what they produce. Chris Horrie – we can tell them it’s rubbish, they won’t believe us, someone outside tells them that via a blog comment, and they realise… They are clearly given responsibility for what they are doing from the first, and sidesteps (e.g. I wasn’t there but can you mark me in anyway) are given short shrift. They are also responsible to each other, and so it’s not just about getting the mark (we hope!)They get to work with topical material which is (or should be) of interest to them, but demonstrates how the ‘media is manipulated’, so they engage with it far more. Without getting drawn in to the digital native debate (I prefer Dave White’s terms of Digital Resident/Visitor), arguably these are the tools the students are more familiar with… we gave them an overview of Twitter, Facebook and Blogging in one of the 6 lecture sessions, and they are getting to grips with them on differing levels, some better than others.
… and this is what they said… Last year it was all feed-forward, no feedback, and this year, as we gave some, they all said it wasn’t enough!
So what do you think – have you done anything similar? How might you scaffold it?
Fastech Day Manipulating Media
Manipulating Media: Collaborative Online LearningDr Bex Lewis, University of Winchester@drbexl@digitalfprint@TELWinch@fastech_uk
The core skills of critical thinking, evaluation of sources, referencing, analytic and critical writing and self directed learning... researching, writing (including structuring, references), reading, note-taking, team-work, presentations, revision, career skills, etc. Academic Skills
Project One: The Brief Each group will produce a short video promoting the value of going to university, in order to persuade prospective students that they should still seriously consider undertaking a degree. The video should be three minutes long. You should be as imaginative, engaging and persuasive as possible. It is up to the group to come to a consensus about content, but you might consider social, educative and/or economic values of education or the advantages over the alternatives.
Dealing with the issue of Groups’ Project Manager Researcher Content Production & Dissemination
Project 2: The Brief Using PowerPoint create a narrated presentation lasting no longer than 5 minutes that answers one of the questions detailed below. Your presentation should consist of slides & a recorded narration created in PowerPoint. You should include images & animations but no video footage in your presentation. Your presentation should be as academically rigorous as an essay but do not overload the viewer with too much information. The information you use should be supported by references and all your sources should be included in a bibliography on the slide at the end of your presentation. References and bibliography must be formatted according to the requirements of the Harvard Referencing System. Your audience are academics & students.
Project 3: The Brief Each group will produce four sample pages for a media themed magazine, these must include: The front cover A contents page Two further pages of articles, at least one of which must be a review appropriate to the style and content of the magazine. Consider: Content; genre; audience; technical aspects; delivery
Project 4: The Brief Each group will decide on a campaign aimed at changing student behavior in some way. The campaign could be a health message, safety & wellbeing, environmental or about student engagement. Ensure you have confirmation from tutors that your campaign is acceptable. The campaign should be multiplatform, and appropriate to your audience. The campaign itself should be visible on or around campus for at least a week before the final deadline…
What do the students get from it? Work goes out publically Ownership Engagement Using the tools they are more familiar with? Ongoing feedback
Student Feedback Enjoyable, engaging ‘Real-world skills’ – especially teamwork Learnt from range of team roles, and from project to project Criticality Building an audience Time-management IT & Research Skills