Digital media assignments provide students an opportunity to demonstrate their learning of course content through the creation of multimedia learning objects using such formats as video, audio, still images and text. Assignments include the creation of short video documentaries, digital stories, audio and enhanced podcasts, digital essays, and other types of multimedia presentations. Students present their ideas for peer and/or instructor critique, research and integrate primary and secondary resources, reflect upon and communicate their perspective on what they’ve learned, and use the appropriate tools to structure their assignments.
Examples of digital media assignments
VIDEOS ON ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES AND SUSTAINABILITY – THOMAS EGGERT
Thomas Eggert is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Business and the Environmental Assistance Coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. He had his students teach middle school classes about environmental issues and sustainability, first without the use of digital media and then incorporating videos into the class. This assignment was valuable to his students both technically and substantively. Technically, students needed to develop the skills necessary to record and edit the video. Additionally, they needed to learn how to develop a story that was both entertaining and educational. Substantively, students needed to understand their content well and learn how to communicate it effectively to reach their intended audience. His students enjoyed creating digital media assignments and thought it was an effective way to teach middle school students.
ONLINE MAGAZINE – KATHLEEN CULVER
Kathleen Culver is an Assistant Professor in Journalism and Mass Communication. Her class of 20 undergraduates spent a semester working in teams to create an online magazine called Curb (www.curbonline.com). The magazine featured various sources of digital media that included audio, video, slideshows, and timelines. While her students mainly pursue careers in professional communication, she felt the skills and satisfaction they received from these types of assignments were invaluable. Working with digital media assignments helped students become adaptable and analytical. Having these skills can help lawyers as much as it can help journalists. Through her experience, Culver found that lessons in new tools helped foster students’ creativity when using traditional tools. These skills were transferable with other assignments, such as writing research papers, and traditional skills were transferable with digital media assignments.
Methods of good practice
The resulting methods of good practice can help in the planning and integration of digital media assignments in a course.
Assign students to work on projects in small groups to promote student-to-student interaction and to build collaboration skills.
Provide training and support resources to help students learn new multimedia tools and software. Ensure these resources are available to students at the time of greatest need during the development process.
Educate students about the resources and methods for acquiring digital assets, as well as the ethical and legal issues related to using these materials in their projects.
Address a real problem to increase motivation and provide students with the opportunity to share their projects with an audience outside the course to obtain authentic feedback (rather than a strict classroom audience).
Additionally, the following points should be considered before starting a digital media assignment.
Meet with a learning technology consultant early in the design process for the assignment.
Study different examples of digital media assignments to understand and recognize the ways in which others have presented information in a multimodal format.
Develop a digital media assignment before assigning one to students. This will help identify the knowledge and skills students will demonstrate through their digital media assignment.
Identify and recommend specific technologies students should use for their assignments.
When selecting technologies, build on technologies that are familiar to students.
Remember that students can overestimate their technical abilities. Help them assess their level of expertise with the technologies being used.
Identify campus digital media equipment checkout, support, and training resources for students.
Develop and share the rubric to be used to evaluate their digital media assignment.
Help students understand the amount of time required to complete a digital media assignment.
Implement check-in phases of a project to guide students through a thoughtful process (i.e., storyboarding, script writing, rough draft, critique and feedback, and final due date).
Provide students with small, low-risk activities prior to giving them an official digital media assignment to give them an opportunity to practice and develop communication and media literacy skills.
Provide in-class time for students to work on their digital media assignments.
Roadmap to success
The following framework helps consultants and instructors think broadly about the assignment objectives and address important pedagogical issues such as:
integrating research into the assignment;
scheduling time with subject librarians or technology trainers; and
teaching critical legal issues such as copyright and sharing one’s work with the public.
Use the following checklist to keep projects and consultations on track.
Students seek primary and secondary sources.
Students collect and create appropriate digital assets for the assignment.
Students integrate information from the course.
Students and instructors have opportunities to work with library staff.
Students integrate coursework with challenging problems that extend beyond the classroom.
Students communicate their ideas, perspectives, and emotions in creative ways.
Students articulate what they are learning using media. Re:construct
Students and instructors develop a process for planning, producing, revising, and delivering a media assignment.
Students integrate various forms of media and apply a range of skills to demonstrate their learning. • Students build new knowledge and understanding of the course content.
The instructor creates criteria to assess the media assignment.
Students go through an iterative process to develop their assignments.
Students receive feedback from the instructor and/or other students in the course.
Students learn to critique in a constructive manner.
Students share their work for public viewing and reuse.
Students get a Creative Commons license for their work.
Students and instructors improve their understanding of copyright issues.
Grading digital media assignments
Digital media assignments can be challenging to assess, especially if students are working in a group. The following is a list of suggestions to consider in the development of a grading rubric.
Identify key course learning objectives, learning outcomes, and skills that are developed through the digital media assignment.
If applicable, determine whether students will receive a group grade, individual grade, or a combination of the two.
Solicit feedback from students on how the assignment should be graded.
Consider ways to assess projects on the following: clarity of ideas and details, overall organization, effective use of language, voice and audience, and technical competence.
Identify logical phases for the development of the assignment (i.e., storyboarding, script writing, rough draft, critique and feedback, and final due date).
Provide and/or facilitate feedback sessions for projects at each phase of the assignment.
Evaluate the quality of the resulting media by reviewing items such as length, pacing, appropriate use of visual and/or aural transitions, clean edits, and video quality.
Consider the use of journals and team feedback for student reflection on the assignment to assess the collaborative creative process.
Grade the process used in the creation of the digital media assignment, as well as the product itself.