Media Arts and the University Lecture

observe  Observe & Consider


It seems paradoxical that the idea of the lecture is 1) still central to teaching and 2) a topic of interest in a session about Media Arts Production, but it's not, especially if we think differently about what a lecture is and focus on what the possibilities are with a lecture, like David mentioned. Even with all of the teaching innovations and move toward student-centered and engaged learning environments, students still want (and express the need for) a lecture. The lecture is an opportunity for the instructor to set the tone for the course and the classroom community. It makes the students feel comfortable, guided, like there is an "expert" helping them with their learning. It is a point of connection between the instructor and the students. It helps to structure the class for the instructor, too, and is conduit for the instructor to develop her own teaching style and approach. The effective lecture is a medium of communication that can better help to impart key details, concepts, content to the students. The good lecture often defines--and shapes--what is a good teacher and a good teaching practice.

Dr. John Francis is a UW-Madison alumnus and visiting associate professor of environmental studies at the UW-Madison Nelson Institute. His TED Talk tells a facinating story about teaching and learning, and sets a high water mark for compelling media arts production.

Now, this isn't necessarily the traditional lecture, and we should move outside of thinking of the lecture in only this very traditional, 50-minute-long, instructor-centered lecture. In fact, unless you want to put your students to sleep, the Media Arts version of a lecture shouldn't at all approximate or reproduce the traditional in-class lecture. And in class, the concept is the same--students won't learn as well if you don't engage them with the material and make them active participants in their own learning. The exceptional lecture--and the exceptional instructor--constantly reflects on, retools, and then reformats the lecture and his concept of it. He recognizes it to be ever changing and ever evolving with the needs of the students, like blended and online classroom environments are now asking of us. The Media Arts version of a lecture gets at the possibilities of the blended and/or flipped lecture and its place in a more active classroom environment or online learning space. Because it is a creative venue, it offers a space to engage the students with the content material in an interesting, refined, and targeted way. Because it needs to be deployed in a concise and pre-planned format, it requires the instructor to attend to and then precisely implement the most crucial and applicable concepts for the course. Because it requires a certain amount of production imput, it asks the instructor to consider the audience, to construct a narrative, and to deploy a finished "product."

Students would remember parts of my lessons that weren't particularly memorable to me or essential to the topic at hand. Sometimes, these were the parts that I liked least about that day in class. What they responded to, I think, much more than the content, was a meaningful connection with the material that my lesson somehow managed to create for them. Like in other areas of media consumption, we are critical consumers who have time-deficient days; we want a good story and will respond to these points of connection. The Media Arts lecture offers us a way to tell a really good story.

Two Short Talks

  Observe & Consider


Consider the distinct ways that we consume content online. We have endless choices and constant distractions. In light of Theresa's introduction to media arts and lectures, and no matter how we characterize the attention span of our audience, it's wise to carefully consider the duration of designed video. In addition, the following two topics should be noted carefully.


Professor Phil Kim from the Wisconsin School of Business first introduced me to the notion of crowdsourcing as it applies to multimedia assignments. While I doubt we'll see a surge of lectures delivered from the driver's seat, I wonder whether or not crowdsourcing can play a role in the creation of designed video for instruction. What do you think?

Quality vs Immediacy

Consider all of the short videos delivered in this module as a demonstration project about the question of immediacy vs quality. Can you determine if there are quality standards employed on a consistent basis? Does the visual clarity change how you perceive the content? Is audio or video more important to your learning experience? Try toggling the quality setting in YouTube between 720p and 360p. Which do you prefer?

Design Guide

observe Observe & Consider

Introduction to Video Editing

The medium of film and video is fundamentally linear. Certainly there are stories that are told in non-linear ways, but every video starts at a point in time and moves forward, very much like a train heading toward it's destination. It's no wonder that the term "tracks" describes the metaphorical space within which video and audio are aranged in a video editing program.

In order to fully understand video editing, the idea of choosing distinct points in time is extremely important. You may have heard of 3-point-editing, which is a technique of editing, but also reflects how video editing works. Put another way, the process of video editing is essentially taking something long...and making it shorter. But In order to make that happen, the editor must identify the point in time to start a selection. Let's say it's right at the beginning (POINT 1). The next thing she needs to do is determine the end of the selection, let's say twenty mintues later (POINT 2). Where's the third point? Recall the train track. Right now that track is empty and is waiting to be loaded with cargo. The point at which you place your selection (your cargo) is the third point in 3-point-editing.

The following activty serves as a way to apply editing functions to a  bridge between introductory training provided by STS; and full courses at Lynda.com. The objective of the tutorial is focused on basic technique in an applied context. If you can do this tutorial, the requirements of the upcoming projects will be a natural progression. If you find that you are running into multiple obstacles, you should take advantage of the Lynda.com iMovie '09 introduction course.

Practice & Apply

Record a voice-over narration

Scenario: You’ve been asked to contribute to an academic journal as part of a conference. The conference committee has asked for short digital media submissions and you have been selected to record the voice-over. Use iMovie to open a new project, import the video file, and then use the voiceover tool to record the text (provided below).

Objective: Position the audio recording so that it compliments the existing audio and video.


  1. Download the exercise video from MyWebSpace
    • When you click on the link, a new window will appear. Select "edit the file" then click "ok"
    • A new window appears. Click "Save a copy of the file to your computer." 
    • Print the text snippet below (or just jot it down).
  2. Record the following voiceover text:

    The day turns bright and brisk in a Montana gulch, just at the boundary of urban and wilderness.In this Digital Media Assignment, Caitlin DeSilvey, Senior Lecturer in Cultural Geography at the University of Exeter, relays her early interest in old decaying places, which very much describes the subject of her research--a 100-year-old homestead in Missoula's north hills.

  3. Reflect on the following questions:
    • What issues arose in terms of rhythm and pace, volume, and tone? 
    • What was the biggest technical issue?
    • How long did it take you to complete the tutorial?

Design Guide Part 2

  Observe & Consider

Overview of the Final Project

The two videos that follow will overview the process of adapting a slide presentation to an online video presentation. The length of both videos is on the longer side at ~20 minutes. The topic is actually very much relevant to the workshop series, but also emulates a highly likely scenario--that of translating an existing presentation for online delivery.

Example of the finished video: Understanding Digital Essays

Watch the making of Understanding Digital Essays:

Practice & Apply

Activity: Practice capturing your screen with Quicktime

  1. Open Quicktime Player.
  2. Start a new screen recording from the File menu then New Screen Recording.

    new screen recording in Quicktime X

  3. Check audio recording input settings and quality settings before continuing. Click the arrow to reveal the dropdown menu.

    Quicktime Player Settings

  4. Click the red button to begin. Quicktime will prompt to drag an area of the screen or click the red button again to record the whole screen.
  5. Click the stop recording button or use the key combination command + control + escape to end the screen capture.
  6. Save and close your recording. If prompted to save a format, 720p is a good middle path.