I just heard that Etta James passed away today, which makes me sad. So I’m listening to her “The Essential Etta James” CD as I compose this post. Here’s a taste for you, so you can listen while you read.
This morning I attended a workshop on making and teaching video led by MSU’s Danielle Nicole DeVoss. I was excited to meet her as I’ve used her book Because Digital Writing Matters in a few papers. It was a small group for the workshop, which made the format informal and conversational, which was nice. We talked about teaching video in a writing class because most of the attendees were writing teachers. It was interesting to hear different folks talk about their perceptions of video composing and its role (or non-role) in the writing classroom. For some, “writing” and video seem like two totally different things, for others, making video opens up possibilities to highlight a rhetorical approach to writing any kind of text.
A few instructors voiced anxieties or frustration with having their students compose in video but not knowing how to help them or coach them when technical issues arose. I think it’s true that the instructor should have at least a little bit of knowledge about software and hardware; however, I also think that the classroom can become a sort of “workshop” space where students and instructor play and learn together, where no one really is the “expert.” This approach is a definite switch from the model where the teacher brings in the expert knowledge, but I think it’s a model where collaborative learning is at the forefront, even for functional or technical questions such as how to import a video clip into a software program such as imovie.
Another concern that was raised was how to assess products like videos in the writing classroom – a question which I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about lately, too. I’ve come to see that setting students up to self-assess (set goals, reflect and revise their goals multiple times, and then evaluate their goals and process) is very useful along with evaluation from the instructor. This approach highlights not just the video product in the end, but also the process.
I was also happy to get some time to just play around with imovie in the workshop. Danielle provided us with “found materials” – images, video clips, songs – and we got to spend about an hour manipulating them in imovie and making a short video. This is the kind of activity that would work great in a writing class to introduce video composing. I’ve done something similar, but I really like that Danielle provided the materials for us, which saved a lot of searching time. I think I will steal and adapt for my own classroom in the future!