Dann Hurlbert and Palmar Alvarez-Blanco co-taught Spanish 206, a Carleton College course focused on fostering civic engagement–while giving back to the community. Students in this course worked with under-represented community organizations to help them spread their message by creating a participatory video with them. In addition to using video creation as coursework and as the assessment, Dann also uses Instructional Video to teach and guide the learning. This sample video includes short selections from the following films: Bacon and God’s Wrath by Sol Friedman and Sarah Clifford-Rashotte; Godka Circa by Antonio Tibaldi and Alex Lora; Damon at 86th Street by Emily Sheskin, and the Price of Certainty by Daniele Anastasion.
Hey Folks, spring is on us. Here is a little of what I’ve been up to, and what I’m looking forward to.
Leaning on my MFA in Digital Cinema and 15 years of teaching experience, I’ve designed a stand-alone two credit course focused on Civic Engagement and Documentary Filmmaking that I’ll be co-teaching with the impressive Palmar Alvarez-Blanco here at Carleton. The curriculum can actually be coupled with nearly any course, pairing students with community organizations that need greater support and visibility. Students will spend the term researching, meeting with, and interviewing members of these community organizations, and then . . . giving a tangible video resource back to that community organization. We’ll cover topics such as bias recognition, visual storytelling strategies, interview techniques, non-linear editing, and social media marketing. This is going to be a fun and engaging class that results in rich civic engagement, valuable documentary filmmaking experience, and a concrete and useful video for several community organizations.
I’m also going to hit the road this spring presenting at conferences including OLC, the Online Learning Consortium, in Nashville Tennessee and at Innovate! Teaching with Technology conference at the University of Minnesota Morris. I’ll be presenting sessions on Planning, Producing, and Evaluating Instructional Video, and Creating Effective Instructional Videos, and I’ll be co-leading a discussion on Online Teaching and Learning for Small Liberal Arts Schools with my colleagues Janet Russell and Andrew Wilson.
Spring is also exciting because one of my personal projects–a compact teleprompter I call the Little Prompter, is ready to hit the market. Over the past year, I worked with a creative and crafty colleague on the design (Thanks, Eric Mistry up at St. Scholastica!); I then ran a successful fundraising campaign to get it manufactured, and am now ready to market and sell it. The Little Prompter is more than just a pet-project, too. It’s got great pedagogical value. Even for experienced instructors, delivering a lesson on camera can be a little intimidating–and even minor discomfort and hesitation on camera can greatly impact how a viewer perceives the speaker and how long a viewer stays engaged with the content. Now, with the Little Prompter and a little pre-planning, faculty can flawlessly deliver their lesson directly into the camera—improving eye-contact and viewer retention. Faculty here at Carleton (and around the world) can learn more about the Little Prompter—and even order one for yourself at www.littleprompter.com.
In the Chronicle of Higher Ed* article “If Skills Are The New Canon, Are Colleges Teaching Them,” Dan Barrett suggests that after 20ish years of wrestling with a move away from a core liberal education curriculum based on classical texts (a la Harvard Classics), “a new consensus has emerged: that colleges ought to develop in students a set of skills.”
The idea is not to abandon content or disciplines but to build curricula based on specific knowledge that instills skills.
Typically the skills mentioned include those that are quite recognizable at Carleton and some even baked into the curriculum: critical thinking, writing, analytical and quantitative reasoning.
But other skills and methods, perhaps those particularly associated with turning out students ready for the 21st century, are not necessarily part of any canon. This list includes but is not limited to visual and spatial reasoning, information literacy, interpretation of meaning, using and evaluating evidence, and verbally communicating thought.
Barrett’s article shares some examples of how some colleges teach a new canon. Some curricula are tweaked and some are radically reimagined or created afresh. This is certainly happening at Carleton and we’re also seeing an approach to addressing the skills/method gap that Barrett doesn’t mention—the micro-course.
Carleton Spanish Professor, Palmar Alvarez-Blanco, has created an experimental two-credit micro-course as a companion to one of her courses. She wanted to “empower students to understand narratives found in mainstream media, research and produce their own short documentaries, and strengthen their civic engagement experience, digital storytelling proficiency, and practical career skills” and realized that combining this dense packet of skills and methods into a single week of the existing course was not ideal. Palmar is working closely with Academic Technologist Dann Hurlbert on this experimental micro-course. Their process and findings could provide the framework for micro-courses at Carleton as well as inform the revision of existing courses and creation of new courses in order to deliver on a new canon.
We can all look forward to a report from Palmar and Dann and I know I’ll be keeping an eye out for more examples to share of thoughtfully designed courses which effectively teach 21st century skills and methods as well as the disciplinary knowledge at hand.
*The Carleton library subscribes to the Chronicle and provides institutional access. If you’re on campus, you can simply go to chronicle.com, if you’re off-campus, you can use this link to log on with you Carleton username and password: http://www.chronicle.com.ezproxy.carleton.edu/