I will describe a little bit about my most recent classes and describe the process of work, learning and output that are expected.
I find myself as a sort of wandering teacher (21st century Erasmus?) so I teach sometimes in California at Marymount California University (MCU) and other times (1x or 2x per year) in Thailand at the Institute for International Studies, Ramkhamhaeng University. I also plan to go to Shanghai to teach in the upcoming year.
As you might know the British higher education semester is made of units. Each unit is a few weeks or a month in duration with a semester-long structure. I find a lot of inspiration and rewards doing what do because I am able work within the US and the UK systems. In Thailand, the university uses the British system.
In all of my teaching I aim to find ways to build intrinsic motivation in learning, mostly about professional practice, theoretical and contextual aspects of work, and the building and re-application of technical skills and knowledge. Besides the process of development, writing, production and editing in digital media production I focus a lot of class time on presentation, discussion and reflection (blog, verbal and in writing).
In a recent “History of Multimedia” class at MCU all the students were undergraduate digital media majors, but my class was about critical/historical studies. Normally the students would research and write a conventional research paper and I would lecture all the time. I find that approach to be constricting and it limits self-reflection, expression and deep learning, plus it exceeds the attention span of most students. I try to teach in an experiential and integrated way so it is different than the norm—reluctantly tolerated by old-fashioned thinkers.
At MCU, each student applied individual creative skills in digital media and design to build a web-based timeline of communication history, from about the Gutenberg press forward (using (posted on wordpress.com). Students built new data and knowledge about the history of multimedia, then integrate creative/tech kills (photoshop and other programs and skills) and demonstrate their scholarly knowledge. Students commented on their deeper learning and retention of the historical themes, persona and events throughout the project. It was a successful project that integrates scholarly research, writing and creative expression.
In Bangkok, at the Institute for International Studies, Ramkhamhaeng University–most recently I was teaching two courses–Principles of Multimedia Writing and a TV Production. Each year as I have returned for the past five years, my classes are a different mix of students from around the world. Many of the students take both units (about 15 total) at the same time—so I have many of the students all day, every day for a specified period of time. I also try to integrate the two classes to a useful degree but am mindful that each course has its specific focus.
In the writing course, the students did interviews with a person of their choosing. The focus was to interview someone “who makes the world a better place.” Students prepared one open question (Grounded theory, Glaser) and recorded the interview with their phones (aiming for best results, although no equipment is made available by the university). Students produced an interview/response to the open-ended question, transcribed the interview, re-interviewed and expanded the scope of the inquiry, re-transcribed and presented an edited audio podcast that was posted on the WP free website they built for the class. It was very interesting and well received by students because of their integration of practice, theory and professionalism. All this is in an ESL context and took about three weeks in total.
In the TV production class—again we have no university equipment—I focused the learning about the visualization/story board/production/editing of entirely visual (silent) process and interaction sequences.
NOTE; I recommended (not compelled) that the interviewee could be the on-camera person for the recorded process and interaction sequences (integration). Most students positively responded to that suggestion and were happy with their results. Students were using phone cameras to shoot video and laptops to edit silent sequences—they learned to do the whole production process with their imagination, a pencil and paper, their mobile phones and free software on their laptops, all uploaded to their free WP site for that purpose.
Ultimately, students in the TV class would edit and integrate the audio interview (from the other class) and use some or all of that audio as voice over in the visual project/work in the production class (creative and skills integration).
We ended up with very good and inspiring works in both classes in Thailand and at MCU—creative and informed/integrated work. Students seemed to appreciate this kind of learning and I believe it effectively encourages praxis and reflection.