M. Shuldman

University of Massachusetts Lowell (UNITED STATES)
For the past eight years (2004-12) the UMass Lowell Library’s Division of Media Services has offered a host of ICT (information and communications technology) services to faculty interested in exploring video production as a meaningful tool for student learning through hands-on content creation. In support of the production of a 3-5 minute group-based video production assignment, the Library Media Center provided production assistance including instruction in equipment operation (camera and microphones) and editing, on-site application expertise and support for students, collaborative assignment design with faculty, and guidance for students on the use of rich media resources within the context of information literacy. In addition, the Media Center offers a physical collaborative workspace for students to do and store their work.

To date, this video production assignment has been offered 44 times in 22 courses spread across a dozen different disciplines. Over these eight years we have collaboratively engaged 15 faculty members to adopt this innovation in their syllabus, impacting over 800 students and resulting in more than 270 completed student group projects, many of which are available online. These production assignments account for 20-50% of a student’s final grade placing the Library’s Media Services on the front line of supporting student success. These courses are in traditionally non-media disciplines.

Assigning students a small group video production project is an effective strategy to introduce students to a new mode of digital scholarly communication. It promotes content learning, facilitates student engagement and the development of multiple “21st Century skills” and literacies deemed important, if not essential, to student success. Prime among them are media literacy, information literacy, communications technologies literacy (ICT) as well as critical thinking, time management, collaboration, and leadership skills. At its core, the production process asks students to become experts, with a small “e,” and then produce a video that coherently tells a story and explains to a third party what they themselves have just learned.

In 1998, Kearsley and Schniederman introduced a framework for student engagement that suggests technology as a perfect catalyst to facilitate deeper learning through an active, purposeful collaborative group project that has an external, outside-of-the-classroom focus. All of these 270+ student video productions were class assignments that were modeled on this idea of creating successful collaborative teams that work on ambitious projects that are meaningful to someone outside the classroom.” The authors characterize these core engagement principles best as relate, create and donate, that is, students work together in teams, create a project that has meaning beyond the classroom and whose activities encourage and engage active cognitive processes such as creating, problem solving, reasoning, and decision-making, all while navigating the rough waters of social relationships.

The paper will include a brief look at three courses in health, biology, and English and conclude with personal observations with regards to the faculty perspective and considerations for integrating an innovative project of this nature, the library/faculty collaboration necessary for success, and general observations about student participation and involvement in the process.