My overall goal at the end of my Masters course, is to continue on at the university as a lecturer of undergraduate media theory, with the hopes of progressing on to a Doctorate. With that in mind, directing my final project into the form of a tool for education, allows me to explore how information should be portrayed in an easy to understand manner, and develop an understanding of lesson plans and structures, In a practical manner.
With the rapid evolution of technology and internet access, students now find themselves with multiple avenues for learning. No longer restricted by the need to confine themselves to libraries for research and theory work, education must adapt to students new needs. With students now capable of streaming videos from anywhere in the world, with an internet connection, it becomes feasible to meet these requirements in an effort to allow students alternative methods of study, especially in regards to students unwillingness to read written text, alongside those with learning difficulties [Stack-Cutler. 2016]. With services such as YouTube, students are able to access videos discussing a multitude of academic subjects in a casual and entertaining fashion, for example, PBS Idea channel, using current popular media to explore theory, history and politics [PBS Idea Channel. 2017], and Crash Course, which takes a seminar style approach to educating, mixing live action segments with animated explanation portions [CrashCourse. 2017]. While more respected corporations and schools may provide video discussions, such as BBC School animation [BBC. 2017], produced with animated sequences in order to appeal to children, or Yale University [YaleCourses. 2017], which features recorded lectures simply transposed on to an online format, rarely does an official and respected source, produce animated videos aimed at higher education students, in order to assist in their theoretical coursework.
While the projects aim is to produce animated sequences, the theoretical framework, is similar to that of comic book theory, and the use of images to convey text and meaning, essentially, semiotics in itself. To use Michelle Manno’s concept of the three E’s of comics, then the videos must be:
- “Engagement: Comics impart meaning through the reader’s active engagement with written language and juxtaposed sequential images. Readers must actively make meaning from the interplay of text and images, as well as by filling in the gaps between panels.
- Efficiency: The comic format conveys large amounts of information in a short time. This is especially effective for teaching content in the subject areas (math, science, social studies, etc.).
- Effectiveness: Processing text and images together leads to better recall and transfer of learning. Neurological experiments have shown that we process text and images in different areas of the brain: known as the Dual-Coding Theory of Cognition. These experiments also indicate that pairing an image with text leads to increased memory retention for both. With comics, students not only learn the material faster, they learn it better.” [Manno.2014]
With a concept such as semiotics, the idea of portraying these videos as animations, plays in to its favour, as the concept of semiotics is explained with semiotics. The versatility of animation, as well as the ability to bring in primary sources, allows for alternative subjects to be taught with the same medium. A video for semiotics, produced for an animation class, can be repurposed for interactive media or fashion easily. For matters that discuss history, it is useful to keep in mind a subject discussed by Corey Blake, describing our abilities to make a connection with illustrated sources, far easier than with simple written text. Blake uses the superhero genre as an example. “Just look at how easily we superhero fans memorize our favourite character’s power levels, sound effects, costumes and history. I could chronologically sort Cyclops’ outfits over the past 50 years faster than I could list the first 10 presidents of the United States. Why? Because there is a colourful narrative in comics form tied to Cyclops that captured my imagination when I was young. Meanwhile, there was a dry narrative tied to the U.S. presidents, probably more like a litany of facts occasionally brought to life by a good teacher. That doesn’t mean a history comic needs to give George Washington a ruby-quartz visor and Spandex, of course (although that would be pretty awesome!). U.S. history is actually pretty crazy and interesting on its own, but the engagement level will increase exponentially if we actually experience the story of Washington crossing the Delaware.” [Blake. 2013]
With both of these projects, a greater depth of research has been required. This has required me to take into account multiple avenues of research, and expanding upon subject matters within a field of interest. Combining media theories to attempt to cover gaps in research. Technically speaking, my skills have needed to be expounded upon with software such as photoshop and flash. While through my undergraduate classes, I have grown to understand the basics, however, when pitching, developing and creating concept art for the ideas put forward, I discovered new techniques and short cuts that provided me with a better understanding of how these projects should and can be undertaken. In particular, techniques in flash were taken into account and expounded upon, especially in regards to utilising sound into animations, a fundamental technique and skill required for the final project.
BBC. (2017) BBC Schools WWI Animations. [Online] BBC. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/0/ww1/29045823 [Last Accessed: 25/04/2017]
Bates, L. (2017) 5 Real Benefits of Using Animation in the Classroom. [Online] Fractus Learning. March 21st. Available from: https://www.fractuslearning.com/2013/12/06/animation-in-the-classroom/ [Last Accessed: 23/04/2017]
Blake, C. (2013) The Benefits and Risks of Comics in Education. [Online] CBR. January 30th. Available from: http://www.cbr.com/the-benefits-and-risks-of-comics-in-education/ [Last Accessed: 17/04/2017]
Brownie, B., Lees-Maffei, B., & Velody, R. (2017) LIT bid Reanimating Theory final version April 21st 2017. Unpublished.
CrashCourse (2012) Like Pale Gold – The Great Gatsby Part I: Crash Course English Literature #4. [Online] YouTube. December 13th. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xw9Au9OoN88 [Last Accessed: 12/04/2017]
CrashCourse. (2017) The First Movie Camera: Crash Course Film History #2. [Online] YouTube. April 20th. Available From: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKSmcmueTbA [Last Accessed: 25/04/2017]
Haines, J. (2012) Why Teach with Comics? [Online] Reading with Pictures. Available from: http://www.readingwithpictures.org/2012/04/why-teach-with-comics/ [Last Accessed: 17/04/2017]
Jacobs, D. (2007) More than words: Comics as a means of Teaching multiple literacies. The English Journal, Vol 96, No 3 (Jan 2007). pp. 19-25
Manno, M. (2014) Comics in the Classroom: Why Comics?. [Online] Teach.com. August 4th. Available from: https://teach.com/blog/why-comics/ [Last Accessed: 12/04/2017]
McCloud, S. (1993) Understanding Comics. Harper Collins, New York
McCloud, S. (2007) Reinventing Comics. Harper Collins, New York.
Mcluhan, M. & Fiore, Q. (1967) The Medium is the Massage. Penguin Books. London
McLuhan, M. (1964) Understanding Media. The Extensions of Man. Routledge Classics. Oxon.
PBS Idea Channel. (2017) What Are Stories With Telekinetics Really About? [Online] YouTube. April 20th. Available From: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8aqYsd_oiw&t=719s [Last Accessed: 25/04/2017]
PBS Idea Channel (2016) Is Undertale the Most Violent Game This Year? \ Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studio. [Online] YouTube. January 20th. Available From: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvSd_opycoI [Last Accesseed: 12/04/2017]
Shedd, A. (2005) No Borders, No Limits: The Infinite Canvas as a Storytelling Tool in Online Comics. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Idaho.
Stack‐Cutler, H.L., Parrila, R.K. and Torppa, M., 2016. University Students with Reading Difficulties: Do Perceived Supports and Comorbid Difficulties Predict Well‐Being and GPA?. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 31(1), pp.45-55.
TED (2009) Scott McCloud: Understanding Comics. [Online] YouTube. January 14th. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXYckRgsdjI [Last Accessed: 17/04/2017]
TED-ED (2015). What is depression? – Helen M. Farrell. [Online] YouTube. December 15th. Available From: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-IR48Mb3W0 [Last Accessed: 12/04/2017]
TEDx Talks (2015) Digital Semiotics: Making Sense of the World | Oscar Bastiaens | TEDxDordrecht. [Online Video] February 20th. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8O2ZBnYjcGw [Last Accessed: 21/10/16]
YaleCourses. (2017) Introduction to Breast Cancer: Office Hours 1. [Online] YouTube. February 10th. Available From: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQciY-hrT0w [Last Accessed: 25/04/2017]
Having gained some experience with lesson structure from part time tutorial sessions, and assisting with undergraduate lessons, I feel I have some knowledge in how a lesson plan should be structured. In regards to necessary skills, the project would require software such as Flash (now Animate), to produce the animated sequences. Photoshop when required to edit image resources in greater detail. Premier Pro and After Effects for final edits, and Audacity for audio edits when required. For research purposes, Google scholar, the universities online library, and book recourses to write and script the required lesson plans, should the pitch proposal not go through.
With the ease of information available online, and the necessity for students to be able to access the information whenever required, the optimum method of distribution would be through online video distribution, such as You Tube or Vimeo. The ability for students to download the material would also be useful. This would require the video to be outputted as a .mp4 or .avi format, rather than Flash’s standard .swf.
Education: Film and Media C&CS Lecturer
Key Quote: “Some of my students seem to take longer to grasp theoretical concepts, and I just can’t stop the class and re-explain it just for one or two students.”
Behaviour: Wants to allow their students the opportunity to understand the theory work, but understands the differing abilities of students to understand it easily.
We Must: Allow lecturers to use the videos in lectures. For lecturers to direct their students to these videos, as primers or reminders of previous lecturers.
We Must Not: Use them as replacements for actual lecturers.
Education: Undergraduate Interactive Media Student (Lv 4)
Key Quotes: “I have so much to do, I need a refresher sometimes. I keep forgetting stuff, and getting confused.”
Behaviour: Tries their best to keep up with the practical work needed, but ends up having to skip their theoretical studies, and becomes confused while attempting to research at the last minute.
We Must: Allow viewers to digest the information, in a short amount of time.
We Must Not: Create long and confusing lecturers, rather seminar like sessions.
Education: Undergraduate Film Student (Lv4)
Key Quote: “Why do I have so much reading to do!? I just want to watch films.”
Behaviour: Works as little as possible, and becomes incredibly frustrated when they don’t understand the reading they are given.
We Must: Make information easy to grasp. Provide interesting animations to keep the viewers’ attention.
We Must Not: Overload videos with a large quantity of text.