by Hallie Franks
I have tried in the past to incorporate class presentations as part of students’ work for the semester. As much as we emphasize critical reading, writing, and participation in class discussion at Gallatin, it has always seemed important to me to hone students’ more formal oral presentation skills as well. But in-class presentations were consistently disappointing: students tended not to prepare sufficiently (perhaps because they see these presentations as an extension of their classroom participation?); in part as a result of this, time was impossible to manage; and while I suspect that the lack of preparation for some stemmed from comfort in speaking to the class, it remained the case that for others, “public” presentations are a truly terrifying prospect.
- The video must offer a brief formal analysis of the object (a skill that we work on throughout the semester and that involves close description and interpretation).
- The video should focus on specific visual details that are important for interpretation.
- The video should include details of contextualization, comparison, or scholarly analysis that contribute to the student’s interpretation of the object.
- The video cannot be more than 5 minutes long.
- The narration must be in the student’s own voice.
- Students are forced to be focused and to prepare what they say because the length of the video is set at a (very short!) 5 minutes. (In addition to my sample video, I also distribute the script that I read from, so that they have an idea of how few words can fill 5 minutes.)
- My sense is that the format, which results in a kind of permanence that the classroom presentation does not (even if it is not publicly shared), encourages students to think more about polish and presentation. But because they are recording themselves, they can do a variety of takes or edit their presentation, and so feel they have more control over how they present themselves than they do in a “live” presentation.
- Although one of the significant points of the course is that engagement with objects in person and in the museum context is a different experience than working with photographs, students interact in really interesting and unusual ways when they are photographing and videoing an object for a project like this. They often discover details that they didn’t notice even when looking in person, or they pick up on how different viewing angles change the perception of the object.
- The space for creativity is larger here. I am clear that grading is based on content, but students who really enjoy and are skilled in video production—or who want to experiment with it—have produced some lovely, creative, engaging, hilarious videos that speak more to their individual approaches to the material and presentation than a traditional presentation would.
“...one of the crucial aspects of using digital technology successfully is that it should help in accomplishing specific goals without detracting from that learning experience with too steep a technological learning curve...”