In my experience as a college adjunct who teaches journalism, most students aren’t really asked to analyze or deconstruct multimedia. They are users of multimedia not necessarily students of multimedia. I have found this to be the case even with students who are communications majors.
I do certainly agree with Daley when she said, “The very vocabulary of multimedia encourages approaches different from those used to write text. One ‘creates’ and ‘constructs’ media rather than writing it, and one ‘navigates’ and ‘explores’ media rather than reading it. The process is active, interactive, and often social, allowing for many angles of view” (Daley, 2003)
In my print journalism classes, I have gradually integrated more and more multimedia discussions and skills into the course. While we spend a good deal of time writing, we also have been spending more time studying multimedia content. Indeed, we have, in the last week, been doing side by side analysis – looking at a print product and then looking at and experiencing its web counterpart. I have, this semester, moved to utilizing blogging as a way for my students to analyze these stories and content pages and to share their thoughts with each other.
For example, this week, we looked first at the front page of the New York Times.
Then we looked at the corresponding day’s homepage for the New York Times.
We were able to do a cursory analysis, noting the differences in content and the different type of experience one can have by visiting the homepage as opposed to reading the front page.
However, that’s about as far as our analysis went.
Because the class focus is designed to be on writing, that was probably sufficient. But truly, this course needs to be redesigned (or a second part needs to be added) so that students are actually producing multimedia content, not just looking at what others have produced.
For example, ideally, when my students complete a writing assignment, it would be great if they also produced a web version that incorporates multimedia of some sort, whether it is a slide show, a podcast, a video, or multiple links within a story to enhance the reader’s experience. I can certainly assign students to do these things, but right now, I have little idea on how to produce these things and quickly and easily post them.
I am also concerned that my limitations and unfamiliarity with multimedia have, at times, hindered my ability to be able to more fully integrate multimedia into my classes when it comes to utilizing things like Skype, Tinychat and Snapchat. For example, I would love to have more guests speak to my class, and many people I know would be willing to do so via Skype or Tinychat. But I don’t really know how to set that up on multiple screens. I’ve done it in class twice in four years and both experiences were so bad (I had no idea what I was doing and had to rely on a student and one of the college’s computer techs to make it work) that I got scared off.