Video Assignments in the Curriculum (CWOVC Spring Faculty Workshop)

We invite all Rice faculty to join a panel of their colleagues for a conversation about the role of video assignments in the curriculum on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 from 3:30 - 5:00 pm in Humanities 119. Below, Dr. Elizabeth Festa, Associate Director of the CWOVC, provides more insight into this unique workshop.

How did this event come about?
The Center for Written, Oral, and Visual Communication offers one faculty-wide workshop or roundtable each term, and we've been interested in expanding our commitment to supporting multimodal/multimedia assignments over the last year. In the fall, we convened a faculty panel to discuss the role of blogs in the curriculum.  During that session, we discussed a range of blogging assignments including ones that incorporated the production and discussion of images, illustrations, and video into blog entries. This term, we decided that we wanted to hone in on video assignments as our focus.  We approached the Director of the Digital Media Commons, Jane Zhao, about co-sponsoring this panel.  As it turned out, Jane had been planning to host such an event for quite some time as there are a number of faculty who have sought support from the DMC for these assignments.

Who will be speaking at the workshop and what types of video assignments have they used in their courses?
The speakers will be Kirsten Ostherr (Director of the Medical Futures Lab and Professor of English); Peter Loewen (Associate Professor of Musicology); Cymene Howe (Associate Professor of Anthropology); Gary Woods (Professor in the Practice of Computer Technology); and Özge Gürcanli (Lecturer in Psychology).  They will discuss how they have used video assignments to condense and synthesize course content, deepen student understanding of disciplinary methods and theories through application, reshape academic knowledge for a broader audience, and experiment with design-based approaches to problem-solving among other topics.

In their courses, students produced a diverse array of video projects including:

  • medical education videos and video games that address a real-world medical issue or need identified through their work with a community partner;
  • videos on a piece of music that include historical and cultural context for the work, score analysis, and a musical performance;
  • creative/experimental videos illustrating an anthropological idea, theory, or method;
  • short videos in the style offered by Coursera or the Khan Academy on a topic related to device physics, integrated circuits, transmission lines, or antennas that explain how something works and apprise viewers of real-world applications; and
  • a comprehensive documentary that explores the role of humor within various sub-fields of developmental psychology through interviews and research on the theoretical underpinnings of the topic.

Who would benefit from attending this workshop?
Any instructor who has considered using videos in their courses and would like more information on designing and evaluating such assignments, and learning more about the support that our centers can offer to students as they complete this work.

What have you found the benefits of such assignment to be for students?
Very often, we tend to place our emphasis on written assignments—the production of texts written in the academic style.  In including visual assignments in our courses, we encourage our students to become producers as well consumers of media forms and we afford them the opportunity to re-envision their research in different modes and for different audiences.  Learning to explain course content—and to imagine new cultural productions and applications of that content—helps students to deepen their engagement with and understanding of disciplinary concepts and to embrace their roles as teachers and shapers of knowledge.