The Dog Ate My Video: More Colleges Assigning Multimedia Projects

A few years ago, one might have asked how many hours the average college student kills watching videos on the Internet. Now it may be more germane to instead wonder how many hours those students spend making videos for others' consumption. But video creation isn't just for practical jokes and sketch comedy anymore - some schools are starting to bring multimedia projects into the classroom. Schools offering Animation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

The Why

Over the past decade or so, multimedia literacy has slowly but surely crept into college classrooms. Movies have become a normal part of any English curriculum, and YouTube has even found its way into scientific courses via educational videos. It was only a matter of time before students switched from consuming media to creating it.

student video project college multimedia

College students in courses across the country are now being tasked with making YouTube-style videos in place of traditional written assignments or even finals. Their movies are meant to support arguments, build momentum for research projects, illustrate scientific principles or just entertain. Some schools are even beginning to consider this an essential part of their curriculum.

The How

Like with any new media, many schools aren't quite sure how digital video assignments fit into their lesson plans. At some institutions they're assigned only by professors with a special interest in technology. Others have toyed with giving them a more systematic presence, for instance by requiring undergraduates to complete a capstone multimedia project.

college video homework assignment student multimedia

Students, too, may not have figured out the role of multimedia in a college curriculum. Some teachers that use videos report that students tend to focus on, to quote one professor, 'visual sizzle' over actual content. One might see that as a byproduct of prolonged exposure to popular viral videos, which tend to be all flash and no substance. However, if multimedia projects are to become a key part of the college experience, students will need to learn how to produce content with weight behind it, just like they (hopefully) do when they write papers.

Instant Innovation

Already video projects have become useful tools in certain classrooms. For instance, some distance-learning public speaking courses require their charges to film themselves addressing a group, which seems like a natural fit. Additionally, sign language classes can benefit greatly from the use of visual media; there, handwritten or typed work won't do.

Though universities are just starting to incorporate media creation into their educational experiences, some early indicators are positive. A professor at Purdue University who regularly uses multimedia has expressed surprise at the effort students put in to their videos. It seems any project that engenders student engagement is at least worth a shot.

How do students learn to be smart media consumers?

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