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Experimenting with a pedagogy of creativity and openness: multimedia for learning in computing and ICT

This cloud presents a short video created for the OU 2010 Conference...

Cloud created by:

Giselle Ferreira
18 June 2010

This cloud presents a short video presentation created for the OU 2010 Conference Learning in an open world. It describes work being carried out as part of the development of the new IT and Computing course TU100 My Digital Life (out in October 2011).


TU100 incorporates the use of multimedia, open content and Web 2.0 tools in teaching and assessment. The materials presented here relate to Part 1 of Block 4, which introduces multimedia in a  creative and practical way. Students will be asked to create their own short presentations to share and discuss with others, and the various activities around their presentations will contribute directly to assessment of their work in the block.

The course materials

Part 1 (B4) is structured around the tasks involved in creating a video from stills with a soundtrack using Picasa and Audacity. I used these same tools to prepare the conference contribution.

The video-making is developed as the preparation of a response to Michael Wesch's The Machine is Us/ing Us (embedded below). The text explores some aspects of my reading of Wesch's video, in particular, around the idea of 'futures', picking up on a fundamental point: that we've all got a role to play in creating the future rather than only prophesying about it ('futurology').

In this way, while introducing some basic image and sound manipulation processes, we're also exploring broader issues related to borrowing, remixing and sharing materials on the Web, with a view to get students thinking about what is at stake (in terms of, for example, copyrights) and where this may all be heading.

The video prepared as part of the course materials includes a soundtrack put together from piano samples taken from the FreeSound Project and some recordings of my daughter's voice, as well as images chosen from the Creative Commons pool in Flickr. The conference contribution uses a soundtrack (already a remix) from ccMixter. Students in the course will be given a Media Database compiled from various open content sources.

At this point, a Take 1 of the course video is available that needs a bit of work to incorporate useful feedback from others (and some improvements to the audio track). However, one of the points of the Part is to illustrate that it's possible to do interesting work without masses of expertise of expensive equipment. Perfection in a 'professional' sense isn't what we're after: we're after getting people thinking and engaged in a creative way.

Extra content

Embedded Content

Experimenting with a pedagogy of creativity and openness: multimedia for learning in computing and ICT

Experimenting with a pedagogy of creativity and openness: multimedia for learning in computing and ICT

added by Giselle Ferreira

(Course material) A response to Michael Wesch's 'The Machine is Us/ing Us' Take 1

(Course material) A response to Michael Wesch's 'The Machine is Us/ing Us' Take 1

added by Giselle Ferreira

The Machine is Us/ing Us - Michael Wesch

The Machine is Us/ing Us - Michael Wesch

added by Giselle Ferreira


Giota Alevizou
2:15pm 22 June 2010 (Edited 5:09pm 22 June 2010)

Giselle, this is amazing. I think it also relates to one of Cloudworks' principle aims: 'sharing ideas about teaching and learning. 

I have watched the 'The Machine is Us/ing Us' video and found it fascinating. Especially the Foucauldean undertones ;-)

I think in your comments above you raise some important points about creativity, quality, depth and engagment. It would be interesting to follow up with students' reflections (and contributions) in relation to this. I have read in the relevant literature, that openess, also opens up novel tension regarding confidence and competition, plagiarism and accredidation (versus the positive tone of credit/recognition) among students; given the wide & diverse OU student cohort I was wondering how these tensions may transpire.

Giselle Ferreira
12:22pm 23 June 2010 (Edited 12:26pm 23 June 2010)

Thank you for your (as usual!) insightful comments, Giota. If you liked 'The Machine' (yes, a Foucauldian flavour ;-) you might be interested in the presentation linked to on the side panel. Wesch's work is really very interesting - there's a lot there that is very relevant to the practical questions you pose as he's talking about issues related to 'authenticity'.

I am planning to develop this work in various ways, including, especially, evaluation (hopefully embedded as cycle within an action research scheme). The course goes out in October 2011, so evaluation in this context will need to wait a bit. We're still working (the group of Block 4 authors now) on developing the assessment itself, and there's still a lot of work to be done to make this more widely accessible. Specifically, there are many questions we need to address regarding disability, as I'm trying to move a bit beyond the idea of simply providing textual descriptions in replacement of visuals and/or audio.

Coincidentally, during this morning's sessions I was thinking about the tensions you raised above and ended up wondering about the idea of 'vulnerability' that seems to be so closely associated with openness. But this would probably warrant another cloud! ;-)

Mandy Honeyman
4:42pm 23 June 2010

Hi Giselle I love the videos you have produced and want to rush out and do some of my own!!

I have been showing "The Machine..." to my year 10 IT students for the last three years and come back to it in year 11 to talk about what they have learnt over the two years of the course. It provides a great focus for discussing everything from html - basic - to tags and databases - middle range - to digital security.

Really hoping to tutor on TU100 (coming off M150), and now want it more than ever... can't wait.


Giselle Ferreira
9:02am 24 June 2010 (Edited 9:02am 24 June 2010)

Great to hear you got enthused, Mandy - go on, grab your machine and create a little something ;-) 

I found it very interesting that you use Wesch's video with your year 10's  - what types of reactions do you get from them? This may not be the case with all of your students, but I wonder how learners who regard themselves more as 'techies' think about the video (Wesch works with anthropology and media students, I think).

Martin Weller
9:46am 25 June 2010


I absolutely love it! Firstly, I think every course should be producing trailers. Secondly, the course material is what we should be doing sooooo much more of - our course material still shows an embarrassing lack of multi-media. Sure you need some skills, but often it's a case of knowing where to look (eg to get music from ccmixter). 

As I said over on another post, the beauty of objects like this is that not only are they engaging, they have an implicit message to the student that they can do it too. They are an invitation to participate.

Fab stuff


Giselle Ferreira
10:29am 25 June 2010

Thank you for your comments, Martin - I totally agree with your point re. multimedia in our courses, but I guess one of the things we're 'up against', so to speak, are some entrenched notions of 'professionalism', that is, that different types of 'stuff' need to be done by professionals in the 'stuff', which, of course, raises the stakes considerably as far as multimedia production is concerned.

I'm not at all an advocate for a radical death of 'expertise' and 'professionalism' (though some of the politics can change and are already changing), and there's little fairness in comparing my little slideshows with something that has been created by professional media people. But that isn't the point, so I don't see why I can't experiment with stuff, play and explore, perhaps together with students themselves, and just make it clear to others (students included) that that's what I'm doing, that I'm also learning. I admit it's hard, though: on the one hand, a bit of transparency and honesty, on the other, 'tradition' and an industrial, capitalist take on life ...

In the discussion after Tony's talk on Wednesday there was a question regarding what it takes to try new things 'in the open' as he did with gaming course (or something to this effect). There are two parts to this Q, 'new things' and 'in the open', aren't there? Skills came up as necessary, of course, but tools are emerging that make it quite straightfoward for anyone to get started, aren't they? So it seems that there's also 'attitude' - though I don't really know what 'attitude' is, exactly (and I was the one who brought it up LOL), I have this nagging thought that having the 'right' one is essential to address both sides of the question  ...

Mandy Honeyman
2:23pm 25 June 2010

Hi Giselle,

I use it as a kind of "let me blow your mind into little bits before I help you to rebuild it" exercise and once they have worked out that they have to read fast, they really get into it (its the music!), but at the start their understanding is minimal. It's only later that those who are going to continue into maths, computing, sciences are able to refer back to it - and do; they do not see themselves as techies (yet), and many of them also do media with me. But I see this as digital literacy and new media literacy.



Giselle Ferreira
3:15pm 25 June 2010 (Edited 3:21pm 25 June 2010)

Thank you for continuing the conversation, Mandy - it seems that disciplinary boundaries are being pushed in all sectors of education, aren't they?

Aha! The music! :-)  In the original contributions cloud I mentioned that a different soundtrack means a different object altogether, and I even had a chat with Jenny (Hart) afterwards about that (I'm in the ATERLIER-D team as well and loved her video).

There is a small catch, I guess - there is an issue I see related to 'authenticity', 'something' that affects how 'convincing' the thing will seem to the audience; it's that 'something' that people seem to be able to pick up without necessarily realising. I think all of Wesch's choice's in that video (the pace, the soundtrack, the images, their combination etc) work perfectly together as 'authentic' for a very broad audience (the video did go viral when it appeared).

This leads me to the age-old question of 'writing to an audience' ('writing' in a very broad sense). For my conference presentation, I meant 'colleagues' as the 'audience', and I wanted to 'write' about pedagogy - it seems most people (Martin too ... sorry ;-) picked up on the video as a trailer or ad for the course, which I didn't really intend at all (gosh, I had no 'permission' of the course team to do that ;-)  I would make something different if I were thinking of 'students', but that's another complication because this is far from being a homogeneous bunch!

Incidentally, I got some objections from a couple of people to a few of my choices of image (for the course video, not the conference) that they considered 'unsettling'. But I find the 'blow the mind into pieces then rebuild' take, as you put it, brilliant  (reading your post I was reminded of two fantastic articles by Erica McWilliiam - links on the side panel). People do need to develop a critical take on things and this will always take time and experience - I don't think it really matters what we call it as long as we keep working on it  ...

Suzanne Aurilio
5:46pm 26 October 2010

One of the things I learned from studying creativity (world-building) in Second Life reiterates something I think we've all experienced in our lives, whether as children ourselves, parents or teachers. 

Call it the "look mom see what I made you" phenomenon. The simple yet profound experiences of creating something that's personally meaningful and for someone. I have a deep connection to this experience personally, having a background in the creative performing arts, so it jumped out at me in Second Life. When I told Residents I was researching creativity and learning many showed me what they made in this same tone: Look... see what I made. Now these were all adults mind you, but related to a point made in this thread,  there was a sense of relative openness there. I say relative, because of course when you're an avatar, nobody knows you're banker or football star in RL :). 

Anyway...I'm just thinking out loud :),  and formulating ideas for papers at the moment. 

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