Thursday, July 18, 2013

Desktop Documentaries: Value in Learning and Assessment?

I'm pretty impressed with this Desktop Documentaries site! I have always had a keen interest in producing documentaries and I have a summer at Duke University's documentary filmmaking school on my to-do list. The topics that I'd like to explore and relate via documentary are all topics in which I hold great passion and interest, of course. The topics themselves drive my interest in documentary production, and the technical process of producing a film is of secondary interest. Development of the technical skills and resources required to communicate information and ideas on a chosen topic in a multimedia documentary would be a great bonus outcome for a learner enrolled in any field of curriculum!

What if we used learner-driven desktop documentary production in the classroom (online or brick-and-mortar) for both learning and assessment? While it would be admittedly difficult to manage a high-quality production of any significant depth or length in the scope of a one-semester course, full documentary production provides a great opportunity for a culminating experience, which typically spans multiple semesters (in secondary and higher educational environments) and can be approached as a team effort. I'm especially fond of any type of learning or assessment that stresses collaborative teamwork skills as opposed to merely competitive learning models. Learning communities form around a shared goal or project, and documentary making can be done completely virtually from a variety of source points around the world by using widely available free technologies and tools.

And for those courses which begin and end in a single semester, mini-documentaries of 3-5 minute duration and a more ad hoc production quality (smartphones, tablets, laptops) are ideal for the learning experience measured in weeks rather than years. Public service announcements, mini-documentaries, sound bites or video blogs/memes produced with educational intent provide real-world context to the learning experience and leave the learner with a tangible outcome perfect for an e-portfolio!

I am adding a documentary section to this blog. I will be adding resources as I find them, so please feel free to share yours with us!

What might your learners gain from creating video documentaries? And what might we gain from them?

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