Good Morning. My name is Mikayla J. Laird, and I thank you for your time. I’m here today to introduce my final project for MA Digital Media Arts. Animating theory. This project came out of my long-term goals, as well as a desire to work alongside the university. Education is important in life. And while many choose to continue their education, just as many struggle during their first or second years to grasp the basics of academic theory. It’s my belief that one of the best methods of engaging students with the material, is to present it through entertainment. People, regardless of whether or not they are students, find themselves more interested and engaged in finer details, when the core material is viewed as fun or exciting. You wouldn’t read the History of Middle Earth, without first falling in love with Tolkien’s The Hobbit, or The Lord of the Rings.
Either due to a lack of time, learning disabilities, or procrastination, students frequently find themselves neglecting their academic reading. At the undergraduate level, and especially at level 4, this can become a problem for both lecturers and students. Particularly when these subjects are elaborated upon, or come the time when students are required to use this knowledge for essays and classroom discussions. It seems that when confronted with such dense seeming material, students find themselves intimidated. Causing a sense of unease before they have even started.
- Target audience
The primary audience for the project is undergraduate students. Particularly those struggling with the material. However, the nature of the project works to tutors and lectures benefits as well.
- Benefits to students
For students, the projects short but direct nature, gives them a fair playing field. Allowing them to quickly digest the basics of the required principle, or academic figure. With the prevalence of devices such as smart phones, tablets and laptops. Video streaming and downloading has become a more prevalent form of media consumption. Students find it easier to download or stream a video from anywhere, rather than visit a library or order a book. With students already finding themselves stressed, simply by the fact that they are starting university. This ease of access and freedom to view where ever the student may be. At home, on campus between classes, at lunch, or even on the bus ride home. Students can find the entry level into their studies more accessible and easier to grasp. Or simply refresh their understanding when the subject is re-introduced.
- Benefits to teachers and staff
With tutors and lecturers, the project provides a completely different, but equally valid purpose. For lecturers, when a student comes to them exclaiming that they don’t understand the material or theory. Lecturers have a short and direct source that students can easily be sent or pointed towards. With lecturers who have students with learning disabilities, or a fear of approaching such dense text. They have something in addition to Learning Support that can help them. When multiple students approach lecturers year-round with this fear, the ease of access of the project, means that lecturers can focus more on their own work, and provide a better service to classes as a whole.
- Created in collaboration with UH tutors and staff
My clients for this project are lecturers and members of the university themselves. Meaning that not only did I have to respond to their wants in regard to the project. But also, their specifications as lecturers. The material being conveyed, and the way in which it is conveyed needed to comply with their needs, and the needs of their students. With this, Marty Lobdell’s lecture on Study Less, Study Smart, was used as a template for understanding the lecturers needs. Lobdell highlights several principles that allow students to study with greater ease. He discerns that students can handle a total of between 25 to 30 minutes of study, before their attention weavers. To which at this point, they need to rest or refocus themselves for a minimum of 6 minutes. When digesting information, it’s better for them to highlight key concepts rather than have entire chapters worth of information. This helps them to recollect and utilise the information at a faster rate. Encouraging recollection rather than recognition. When students are able to recollect information independently, then it is easier for them to understand. Being actively able to remember the information in their own mind and words, rather than recognising something when a trigger is provided for them.
The method in which students access the information is extremely important. While the university provides a number of avenues to access as many books, documents, and tools as necessary. This does not mean that students actively know where to find this information. Despite posters, lecturers, and emails pointing students in the right direction. Students feel more comfortable when using systems, they are more familiar with. When a student is already confronted with a subject they feel uneasy towards, then an unfamiliar environment will add to that unease. With video streaming and uploading services, such as YouTube or Vimeo. Both students and lectures are not only comfortable with the environment, but confident in their ability to navigate to their desired content. Many phones and tablets already come with the YouTube app pre-installed, making the material even more accessible to the wired in, and tech confident students.
- Watch time and retention on YouTube
According to Google, and their YouTube support. Watch time and retention is the most important element when uploading information and videos onto the site. A video can be broken down into three sections. The Nose, the first 2% of a video. The Body, the middle 96%, and The Tail, the final 2%. According to Wistia, in their research into audience retention. The average loss of engagement in a 1 to 2-minute video, is 4.9%. This increases to 17.3% in a 5 – 10 minute video. Their own study brings about several key elements that should be included to keep a viewer engaged up until the main body of the video. To abbreviate any introductory material, and cut straight to the point. To make audio clear and distinct, as well as hooking your audience by showing your point. YouTube and Googles own support forums, state that the first 15 seconds of any video is the defining factor in whether or not a user chooses to watch the video as a whole. Through analytics of retention over the run time of a video. A shorter video, with a clear and engaging opening 15 seconds, that cuts straight to the point, has a higher chance of reaching the viewer.
- How the project meets the criteria
With the information discerned from research, as well as client specifications. The final product takes all of these criteria on board, and delivers in just over 3 minutes, a basic overview of the core principles of Marshall McLuhan. Using information taught in a two-hour lecture. The information was distilled, with the core principles highlighted. Proof of the contents worth and its usefulness to the student are presented within the opening 15 seconds. The platform to which a student or lecturer can access the information are simple and seamless. As well as easy to share through both social media, and direct links. The platform also allows for the project to be easily imbedded into lectures, slides, or documents. Meaning that students are able to engage with the material in a stress free and quick manner.
- Costtrell, S. (2013) The Study Skills Handbook: Palgrave Study Skills. Macmillian Publishers Limited: Hampshire.
- Fishman, E. & Currier, A. (2017) Understanding Audience Retention. [Online] Wista. January 20th. Available from: https://wistia.com/library/understanding-audience-retention [Last Accessed: 20/08/2017]
- (2017) YouTube Help: Watch-time reports. [Online] Google Support. Available from: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/1715160?hl=en-GB [Last Accessed: 20/08/2017]
- PietceCollegeDist11 (2011) Marty Lobdell – Study Less Study Smart. [Online] YouTube. July 22nd. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlU-zDU6aQ0 [Last Accessed: 20/08/2017]
- Thomas Frank. (2015) Study Less Study Smart: A 6-Minute Summary of Marty Lobdell’s Lecture – College Info Geek. [Online] YouTube. January 29th. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23Xqu0jXlfs [Last Accessed: 20/08/2017]
- Thomas Frank. (2017) How to Make Studying Fun (or at Least Less Boring). [Online] YouTube. August 11th. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YitcDk-Wwiw&t=436s [Last Accessed: 20/08/2017]
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954 – 1955) The Lord of the Rings. Allen & Unwin: Crow’s Nest.
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1983 – 1996) The History of Middle-Earth. George Allen & Unwin: Crow’s Nest.