As ever-advancing technology continues to impact our students’ lives, instructors realize the importance of incorporating it into their curriculum. Many have already been using video, audio, and graphic presentations to enhance student learning.
Another way to harness the power and excitement of digital, electronic, and traditional media is by assigning multimedia projects for students to create themselves. Multimedia projects allow students to combine different types of media (text, audio, video, pictures, graphics, etc.) into a single cohesive presentation. They offer an opportunity for students to actively engage in a project in a way that is relevant and familiar to how they gather and understand information already. And, perhaps most important, they give students the chance to be creative, solve problems, think critically, and develop crucial real-world skills, all at the same time.
So how do you make the assignment an effective and engaging learning experience for your students? And how do you evaluate the projects once they’re complete? The new Multimedia Best Practices and Rubric: A Guide to the What, Why, & How was designed to guide you through this often-daunting process to craft multimedia assignments that are beneficial, productive, and fun. Further, it helps you evaluate the different components of the projects based on a number of criteria no matter what the medium.
Before you begin, you need to define your goals. Ask yourself why a multimedia project would be more instructive or constructive than writing a paper. If you want students to use a particular medium for their project, ask yourself why? Why, for example, is creating a podcast more relevant to your class than producing a documentary? If students can choose their own medium with which to engage, be sure to impress on them that the medium must be relevant to the assignment and course goals.
Next, you want to create a prompt to guide students and set milestones that students can work toward throughout the quarter. Ask students to write a reflection paper on the process of producing the piece. This emphasizes the idea that the process can be as important as the final product itself.
Finally, you want to have a clear evaluation strategy that you can share with students ahead of time so they know what is expected of them. The Multimedia Rubric and Legend lay out the components of the projects that can be evaluated, along with definitions and descriptions of each element. The Evaluation Form can be filled out during presentations and given back to students with your comments and their final grade. These forms can be adapted to the particular needs of your assignment. You can pick and choose the components that are most relevant to your goals.
In addition to the Multimedia Best Practices and Rubric, there are other great resources on campus to assist with project creation and evaluation.
Talk to your colleagues who have already assigned a multimedia project to their class and ask what has worked for them.
Your Academic Technology Specialist is there to help guide you through the process of creating the assignment and finding technical resources for students. For instance, if students need to learn a new skill in order to produce the project, they can drop by the Tech Lounge in Lathrop Library for technical assistance.
If your department does not have an Academic Technology Specialist, the Academic Technology Lab (http://acomp.stanford.edu/faculty/atl) is open to all faculty members and instructors.
See examples of multimedia projects done by undergraduates by visiting the Undergrad Student Project Gallery (https://undergrad.stanford.edu/planning/gallery).
Multimedia projects can enhance the teaching environment in great and interesting ways.
With the Multimedia Best Practices and Rubric, you have the tools you need to design assignments that will engage students in learning beyond the written word and beyond the confines of the classroom itself.
Kara McCormack, left, is a Thinking Matters Teaching Fellow.Tiffany Lieuw is an Academic Technology Specialist with Stanford Introductory Studies.