Exploring innovative assessment methods
Exploring innovative assessment methods

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Exploring innovative assessment methods

3.3 Case study C: digital story telling

The presenter for this case study indicates that the assignment is based on the idea of a digital media essay. This is also known as digital storytelling.

Activity 5 Media essay assignment

Timing: Allow approximately 20 minutes

Watch the video and consider the following question:

What skills and competencies would the learner demonstrate if they created a digital story or digital essay?

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 3
Skip transcript: Video 3

Transcript: Video 3

Well, I teach a class in OLPD called Gender, Education and International Development. And one of the assignments that I use in the class is called-- well, I'm calling it right now a digital media essay. And in this course, what we do is we look at how the three pillars of the class-- gender, education, and international development-- interact and come together and how education is itself a prime activity or area of focus within international development.
I'm always looking for ways to document student learning and transformations of their perspectives in my classes, and I felt this was a way to at least partially document some of the knowledge and the assumptions that students were bringing into the class about issues of gender and what development was and how education plays a role between the two.

[TEXT ON SCREEN: Whiteness in academia: The impact on Mexican immigrant in the U.S.]

I wanted students to create media. That's really what it was about.
We spent so much time analyzing and deconstructing texts and meanings in books, and articles, and policy documents. But constructing meanings in a very intentional fashion is something I think we don't have the opportunity really to do in this program. But the point of doing it at the very beginning of the semester is to map, again, the knowledge that students themselves are bringing into the class about gender, about what education does, what international development is or should look like. And so I want to kind of timestamp that understanding by having them do that at the very beginning of the course.
We view them again at the end of the semester, towards the end of the semester hopefully through new perspectives and with new theoretical and conceptual tools that we've picked up throughout the readings and our discussions. I convened the students to look at the videos again to provide feedback to each other, and then it's capped off with a reflective essay at the end of the semester talking about what their video was about, why they selected the images that they did, what story they were trying to tell with the images, what unanticipated meanings might have also been attached to these images. And knowing all that they know now, what would they do differently if they had to do the video over again?
This year, we added an annotation exercise, which created an additional space for discussion, and deliberation, and kind of an opportunity to have them talk about their own process and also to provide feedback to other students. Following that exercise, students then took that feedback that they had given and they'd received and then they wrote the reflective essays, which I thought was actually it really enriched the outcome as far as the depth of reflection and the quality of the essays themselves, because students really enjoyed the process of both getting feedback and giving it as well. As far as why I think this approach is effective or worth playing with and experimenting with in the classroom, it's an opportunity for students to realise how the visual also confers meaning. And it's also, I think, important to try to do more than just paper writing in classes.
One of the things that we do here is definitely try to train scholars and have them develop critical analysis, refine their writing process, become better thinkers as a result. But I think that we can do that in addition to writing to go beyond that as well, too. And for me, as an educator, I think it's really important to still be able to put yourself out there. If you can anticipate everything, there's no vulnerability.
It's harder to show where you've come from and how your views or understandings have been transformed along the way, and that's really what we're trying to do here, at least, that's what I'm trying to do in my classes. And I would say that I want to encourage intellectual risk-taking among my students. And I'm troubled when the scope of what counts as knowledge is narrowed, and so I think having these kinds of opportunities in classes and developing other opportunities that we still might not have articulated yet or imagined is important for us to remain fresh, and creative, and critical as educators, but then also training scholars and practitioners who come out of our program to be the same way.
I think there's something worthwhile to feeling unsettled or feeling uncomfortable in a class. I think that's what you can call an education when we're put outside of our comfort zones and we're asked to think differently or to approach what we know in a different way or to push away all that we're comfortable and familiar with. That's a skill, and that's something that requires training and practice and a level of confidence. And I think that that's important for us to be able to provide those opportunities to our students.
End transcript: Video 3
Video 3
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This example is much more intricate. The case study provides an example of some advanced skills in relation to the creation of work that will be assessed as a summative assignment. Some of the advantages of a digital story are that it can be used to help learners demonstrate their knowledge of the content of a specific area. Additionally, they can also demonstrate other skills such as their ability to use different pieces of software, managing time and resources, creative thinking and problem-solving skills and communicating verbally.


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