Integrating multimedia work into assessment

How can we usefully integrate and assess multimedia work in a course?

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Giselle Ferreira
6 November 2009

The use of podcasts, Webcasts and streamed video is fast becoming commonplace in our courses, alongside the more traditional CD- or DVD- delivered elements. Some of us are actually producing our own objects using, often, demo versions of software or open source tools. Looking to the bigger picture beyond course production, I think it's safe to say that students would profit from being able to develop the types of skills we're now developing through this sort of work.

So: what about getting our students to use these media to communicate their ideas and understandings, that is, what about integrating multimedia work into assessment?

These are some questions that come to mind:

In what ways can we usefully teach students to create their own multimedia objects?

What is involved (conceptually and in practice) in assessing these objects?

How can this type of work be integrated with other work in a course?

Is it possible to create a basic framework that can be adapted to the requirements of different disciplines?

An attempt at addressing these questions is currently taking place in the development of the new Computing & ICT course TU100 . At the moment, there's a forthcoming D2 of a course unit teaching students how to prepare multimedia, using a framework that could potentially be adapted to any discipline and 'format' (another area of questioning I might have included in the list above), and discussion is ongoing on the related assessment, but I thought it would be interesting to invite other people's views!

Extra content

OK, extra content ... The First Take of the video that's being used in the course: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8us6hUU8WRg (with the disclaimer that this is only an illustration to work alongside the teaching text and it needs work ;-)

Giselle Ferreira
15:31 on 6 November 2009 (Edited 15:33 on 6 November 2009)

Embedded Content

Video on YouTube

Video on YouTube

added by Gráinne Conole

OU Conference Contribution - Experimenting with a pedagogy of creativity and openness

OU Conference Contribution - Experimenting with a pedagogy of creativity and openness

added by Giselle Ferreira

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Gráinne Conole
3:51pm 6 November 2009


Hi Giselle - great focus for a cloud! have added your link as embedded content!

Giselle Ferreira
3:53pm 6 November 2009


Thanks, Grainne - I hope I'll get some views, it's a really interesting and very relevant topic, I think.

Andy Lane
4:30pm 6 November 2009


The issue you raise is common to any non text-led artefact that we might students to produce as part of an assignment and relates in part to the form of the artefact and the content of the artefact.

Let me explain by using the example of assessing diagrams as has been the case in systems courses since they started. Drawing diagrams to represent systems or features of systems is a normal part of systems teaching and learning. We have taught a number of structured diagram types with different purposes and functions. In other words there are rules and a 'grammar' for them just as there are rules and a 'grammar' for an essay or report or field notes etc.

So part of the teaching (and learning as expressed in assignments) is the choice and execution of diagrams that fit the rules/guidelines (and we often find that 'neat' computer drawn diagrams are often less correctly constructed than hand drawn ones on paper). I assume the framework you mention does something similar. this is a bigger part for novices but for more dvanced courses then it is the content that matters more. So it is not just mastery of the medium but the rigour and depth of the understanding and knowledge captured in the artefact that has to be assessed depending on what has actually been asked for. This can be done by assessing the artefact (diagram) alone or in conjunction with text (but could be audio) explaining the thinking behind the experesion of understanding/knowledge captured in the artefact.

Now it took the systems group some years to work through the issues involved and new ones appear such as the ability to produce dynamic diagrams rather than static ones but I stil think it depends upon consistently agreed rules and practices for creation and assessment of an appropriate artefact that balances the technique and the substance. just as you would for a text item.

So the first point is what purpose the multimedia objects play in the course and their relationship to work or play (diagrams are part of a systems thinkers toolkit). They should have a point beyond the course in terms of people being able to create (write) them, understand (read) them and critique (evaluate) them.

The second point is whether you can make them a cross disciplinary skill. The systems diagrams (one form)themselves do not transcend disciplines except ones that feel them relevant like engineering and management, but there is a wider skill about using diagrams of other forms that should be taught more as I tried to do in Chapter 3 of the Sciences Good Study Guide. So is there any guidance from media studies where producing and using such artefacts may be more commonplace?

Verena Roberts
10:25pm 7 November 2009


I am trying to integrate www.voicethreads.com and www.photopeach.com into my daughter's  kindergarten classroom. (As a teacher, I'm helping my kindergarten teacher).  While we may not be as technical as what I am reading on this post.....the goal is similar. We are trying to get the students - and the parents- "used to" online assessment tools at an early age. We are hopefully going to use www.voicethreads.com to help create short stories in French to help guide the students and the parents in vocabualry and accents. I figure that by encouraging the parents, I'm following the whole "It takes a village to teach a child..." concept using multimedia technolgy. Eventually we hope to get into videos and podcasts..but we're going one step at a time...

Judith Williams
9:11am 9 November 2009 (Edited 10:52am 9 November 2009)


In the new Open University course Communication and information technologies (T215), the final taught block of the course will take students through the creation of a 30 second film clip (using animated still images) designed to communicate some technological concept. (We use the concept of aliasing in the example.) This uses open source software: Audacity for the audio and Avisynth for the video.  For the block assignment students will be required to produce their own 30 second clip using images and sound effects - either self-generaged or from a supplied library - and their own commentary. The course starts in February 2010 and it won't be until the following August that that students will be submitting this assignment, so it will be a while before we are able to evaluate the success of our approach.

We haven't yet completely finalised the assignment details or its assessment strategy, so this discussion comes at a timely point for us! We've introduced a framework for students to use to critically evaluate their work in terms of whether it meets the brief and how effectively the various components have been used. We're intending to base assessment on this same framework. I'm drawn to Andy's suggestion that assessment should include some element of explanation of the thinking behind the choices made and the approach taken.

Karen Kear
9:57am 18 November 2009


(I think Judith's comment above is incomplete, so I'm adding this to finish it)

The new 60-point UKOU course T215 Communication and Information Technologies has its final block devoted to this subject and to relevant activities for students. The block is very hands-on and students use a range of different tools for creating and editing images, audio and video. The assessment involves students creating an sequence of linked still images with audio too.

Gráinne Conole
11:01am 18 November 2009


Thanks Karen - this sounds like a really exciting course, I particulalry like the fact that students get to use a variety of tools, I think to really understand the affordances of these new technologies you do need to get your hands dirty!

Giselle Ferreira
1:29pm 18 November 2009


Thanks everyone for your thoughts (and apologies for taking a while to come back - I've been writing course materials ...).

It's really interesting to see this movement towards creative approaches to multimedia in education at different levels (Verena, I spent my Sunday helping my daughter make a movie for school!). As in so many other areas, here too we're confronted with a wide variety of tools, including many that are Web 2.0 or freeware, and I find the choices we make really interesting in themselves (I wondered why avisynth and not a graphical tool for T215).

In TU100 we've also got Audacity for audio work, but Picasa for image and video work (a bit of a push on the latter). As you say, Grainne, we need to investigate the affordances of these things, so it's important to get hands-on experience ourselves - I've asked my CT colleagues to have a go at creating their own video responses (also, hopefully I won't end up the only one sticking my neck out ;-) Seriously, though, I totally agree that practical, hands-on engagement is really important! 

On the other hand, I found Andy's more 'theoretical' comments thought-provoking and very relevant!! I think  that assessing the 'artefact' as well as a 'text' written around it is pretty much the way things are done in the creative arts (certainly in music), so I do believe there is mileage in trying to learn more about assessment in creative media, specifically, about 'rules' for different 'formats' etc.(I wouldn't talk about 'grammar', but that's another discussion in itself ...)

We need to be creating teaching and assessment stuff that is consistent with 'practice' in 'real life', but with the Web being a platform for anyone, professionals and non-professionals, aren't 'formats' and 'rules' and 'practices' all in flux? So, although I understand the need for 'formalisation' as Andy describes with the diagramming example, I'm not entirely sure if we'd like to follow a parallel path to that with multimedia.

A key element in creative 'stuff' is the ability to subvert things, to push boundaries and create new rules (not unlike what happens in technology development), and I feel we might have a lot to gain not only by retaining some flexibility but also by articulating this fuzzyness quite clearly to students. Can we have both some formal guidelines and some flexibility to change them as we learn (and, why not, create) more?

btw Judith - the course video on the iTunes OU (Final Cut) is brilliant, I'm sure the students will like it!

Julie Carle
12:08pm 11 September 2010


As a student who stumbled across multimedia Xtranormal software and let my imagination loose creating the Bob and Sue series without the boundaries of assessment or best practices, I loved the free spirit and creativity - to create a diablog of my learning experiences. I agree with Giselle that students may well push boundaries if they don't have constraints. Perhaps the formality could come with writing up the experience in a formal written reflection and let the technological experience be less restricted.

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