teaching with the arts
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Producing Video For Teaching and Learning: Planning and Collaboration
Date Reviewed: January 30, 2016
Michael O’Donoghue writes that he has “attempted to create a work which [he] hope[s] is more of an educational thinking and production tool than a how-to-guide”(xi). The book does not quite achieve this particular goal because the author has, in fact, quite nicely done both. His paradigm for pedagogy’s interaction with video and his helpful sections on effective video creation gives the reader a philosophical as well as a practical grounding in the use of video in academic settings.
O’Donoghue’s emphasis on teaching and learning ensures that every concept behind video production is linked in some way to a principle in teaching and learning. Making a pitch, or selling an idea for a video allows for review and reflection by teachers and students. Creating a framework for the film gives the educator an opportunity to clearly define learning objectives and outcomes. And a concern over the visual format of the film leads to a discussion on how teaching objectives are presented and received. While this may sound like a rather clumsy construction, O’Donoghue -- in part due to a clean and clear writing style -- pulls it off.
As the educational justification is laid out for every aspect of multimedia production using video, readers begin to realize that something else is occurring. They are learning the technical aspects of video production and creation. While video production can seem intimidating, O’Donoghue walks the reader through the process from pitching and scripting to camera usage and post-production. His appendices add to the wealth of direction with an example of a pitch document, an illustrated storyboard, a production course structure, and a short section on lecture capture.
But, by far, the best section in this book is the chapter of expert interviews. The author interviewed over twenty people on the use of educational video. He pared those down to the six who appear in chapter five, which is titled “Six of the Best.” And the title does not lie. Among the interviewees is are Sir David Attenborough, of natural history filmmaking renown, and Richard E. Mayer, one of America’s deans of academic multimedia usage. And there is a gem within this gem. The interviews are far ranging, illuminating, and different for each person. However, the final question is the same for them all: “Do you have suggestions for improving educational video productions?” Not only does the reader get very practical tips from these six but the author also gives the response to that question from all twenty-three persons interviewed. There is an embarrassment of riches here.
The final chapter, concerning student production of a video, is interesting and practical but could have been longer. The further reading section and bibliography are also helpful and the index is surprisingly robust for such a short book.
While the technology used in filming has changed in the last few decades many of the concepts of filming have not. Consequently, I see this philosophically and technically practical book being relevant and extremely useful for many years to come for educators in higher educational contexts.
We teach with aspirational dreams for our students. The right-now challenge of student formation is that we have never seen our world just-so. We are intellectual, faith pioneers in the malaise and luxury of the 21st century. This digital age has fashioned for us a threshold into terrain that is ...
The Instructional Value of Digital Storytelling: Higher Education, Professional, and Adult Learning Settings
Date Reviewed: January 18, 2016
Digital Storytelling originated in the early 1990s in the matrix of what was then called “new media”: a mix of graphics, photography, videography, audio recording, and video and audio editing. As first developed at the Center for Digital Storytelling in California, workshop participants learned to create a two- to three-minute first-person story in a digital format that could be shared via the Internet. By 2000 when media production software became commonly available on personal computers, what had been the realm of professional artists and media producers became a potential playground where ordinary people of all ages could be empowered to craft and to share digitally a succinct, poignant, brief first-person video story.
Since then, this form of storytelling has found advocates around the world: in small villages in Wales; in schools from elementary to college-level in the U.S.; in museum art programs in Australia; and in social service and social justice organizations in the U.S., Africa, and elsewhere; and in youth faith formation in Norway and Denmark. Major universities now offer education courses in this method, from the University of Cardiff in Wales to the University of Hawaii. ESL teachers have successfully employed this technique to help immigrants tell their stories. PhD students have written dissertations that explore the evolution and application of Digital Storytelling in a variety of settings, and media and cultural studies scholars have analyzed this phenomenon as it has been introduced in multiple cultures. While the original short format is referred to with initial capital letters, the wider field of digital media storytelling has evolved and now takes many forms.
Patricia McGee has carved out a portion of this diverse world of digital storytelling and limited her comments to “Higher Education, Professional, and Adult Learning Settings,” which is still a very wide scope. She divides this well-researched work into three sections that provide excellent overviews of past storytelling traditions and new twenty-first century approaches; current institutional uses and emerging models for digital storytelling; and applications in diverse cultural and institutional contexts. She advises readers to turn to whichever section they find of most interest.
Theological educators and religious studies professors will most benefit from exploring the third section on applications. With a little imagination, they can envision how the digital storytelling examples McGee cites can be translated for application in their classrooms and how their ministry students and graduates can use digital storytelling in youth ministry, faith formation, catechumenal processes, new members gatherings, church building transitions and anniversaries, and church websites.
McGee, Associate Professor of Digital Learning Design at the University of Texas at San Antonio, is evidently a master of her wide-ranging, fast-evolving field. She is a good guide, one who will stretch the vision of theological and religious studies educators. By introducing this creative, communal digital storytelling process in their classrooms, their students can learn to empower themselves and others to claim their voice.
God is unknowable. So, the things of God cannot be learned – they must be revealed. What does it mean to teach our students to wait for the revelation, to be aware of the revelation, to find joy in the revelation, to trust in the revelation? In what ways might students ...
Better Worlds: Education, Art, and Utopia
Date Reviewed: December 16, 2015
Better Worlds: Education, Art, and Utopia does not immediately relate to theological education. However, it does cover interesting and thought-provoking topics of potential use for those working in the theological school classroom. Yearnings for utopia express a desire akin to awaiting the Kingdom of God. Therefore, looking at ways the trope of utopia is formulated in the fields of education and the arts can provide interesting parallels for the theological school classroom. The core question is what would a better world look like?
Roberts and Freeman-Moir take the reader through a sweeping survey of topics. In one section, John Dewey and William Morris’s utopian philosophies provide a backdrop for the discussion of utopias as places where each person can practice skilled craftsmanship, developing a craft to the point where it becomes artisanal. In chapter 2, visual art as a dystopian tool is regarded as something that can evoke true sympathy. The authors invite readers into various imaginative spaces to consider how imaginative sympathy can propel us into action, or at least into moral discomfort caused by the difference between the present world and imagined utopian dreams. Chapter 4 discusses the role of images, showing their power as pathways to action that open the imagination to craft a space of deciding and reflecting. This is similar to the praxis-theory-praxis loop championed by many theologians and seminary educators.
For the theological educator, perhaps the most à propos chapters are those concerned with the liberation pedagogy of Paulo Freire and the literature of Fyodor Dostoevsky and Hermann Hesse. The chapter on Freire’s liberation framework provides a useful overview of his life and work with a focus on his utopian realism. The chapters on Dostoevsky and Hesse provide interesting analyses of their theologies and philosophies.
I have two main critiques of this text. First, the authors spotlight too few female utopian visionaries. Chapter 3 focuses on writer and philosopher Iris Murdoch, but this is by far the weakest chapter in the book. The authors are clearly aware of feminist (or at least female scholars’) viewpoints in the various fields they describe. The book would have been stronger had they chosen at least one compelling female figure’s utopian or dystopian vision to unpack and describe. My second criticism is that the chapters are fairly disjointed, each chapter representing a different topic and field, and there is no final conclusion that draws all the themes together.
The authors put forth education as “utopian curiosity” (107), where each opportunity for knowledge-building provides entry into a world larger, more spacious, and more creative than the one in which the student previously lived. Allowing these alternate worlds to wash over faculty imagination may provide ways to take critical looks at the contemporary roles of theological educators and to invite questions such as: What are the aims and purposes of theological education and how do they compare to utopian and dystopian visionary aims and purposes? What is the role of the theological educator in this process? What does pedagogy look like if faculty seek to go beyond simple information sharing to something more complex and critically reflective?