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Collaborative Video/Individual Essay Project – English 328: Writing, Style, & Technology
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Collaborative Video/Individual Essay Project

This assignment has two parts. First, working in groups of four or five or so, make a three to five minute YouTube (or YouTube-like) video about some aspect of writing. Second, working by yourself, write a 1500 or so word essay where you reflect on the process of “writing” and producing a video about writing. In what ways are producing a short movie similar to writing a short essay? In what ways are they different?

A bit about collaboration:

  • Because this is an online class, I will be setting up the collaborative groups.  This will be coming soon!
  • Each group will have to decide and agree on the subject of your video fairly soon in the process (see the class schedule for specifics). I will need to approve the subject of your group’s video, and I reserve the right to guide your group in a slightly different direction. Once your group has decided on a topic for the video, you and your group members can’t change topics.
  • We will talk about the collaborative process in some detail– I’ll be posting some thoughts on the process, how it should work, etc.. But keep in mind that not everyone needs to do all parts of the project (for example, not everyone needs to do the editing, the acting, the filming, etc.), though everyone does need to participate in a roughly equal amount of the project. It is obviously bad if someone doesn’t do their “fair share,” but it is also bad if someone becomes a “ball-hog” and insists on doing all of the project themselves.
  • If you think about it, you’ve been “collaborating” all term in various ways, so I am sure that much of this work can be done electronically.  That being said, there is a pretty good chance that at least some of the group will have to meet face to face at a mutually agreeable time.  Working this out among the group members is part of the collaborative process.
  • In order to keep everyone working within groups “honest” about the work they are doing, each of you will need to write me a message when you submit your individual essay for this project which explains a) what work that particular group member did, b) what work that particular group member thinks that other people in the group did, and c) what sort of grade that particular group member thinks I ought to give to other people in the group. I will factor these self and peer evaluations into my grading of these projects.

About putting together the movie:

  • I’ll be posting about this to the class web site soon. Many of you already have some sort of video camera, and I have a number of simple video cameras students can borrow as well. If you have a Macintosh computer, you probably already have a copy of iMovie (though there are different versions of this software, some better than others). Microsoft’s Movie Maker is a free software for Windows and Vista computer users.But let me emphasize two things about this.  First, I have devoted a fair amount of time in this unit’s schedule so that you can work together on your movie. Second, remember that the goal of this project is NOT to make great movies! Rather, our goals here are to learn a bit more about making multimedia presentations and about the similarities and differences between making a brief video collaboratively and writing a traditional essay individually.
  • I am here to help! I can loan you a camera and even give you some basic help on working with the software, so do not hesitate to ask for help from me on this.
  • Your group will post your videos on YouTube, which is very easy to do.

Can you give us an example?

Sure.  Here are the three examples, two from the version of the course I taught last fall, and one from the course I taught last winter (and all of these courses were online). Two of them are better than the others, but you get the general idea:

About the individual essay:

Each of you will write a brief (1500 words or so) reflective essay about your group’s video project and the process of putting it together. In your essays, you should recount your experiences in making your group’s video, and you should make connections to the assigned readings and videos. This could take a variety of different directions, but I do have a couple of tips and suggestions for things to keep in mind as you work on this part of the project.

  • Again, remember we’re not doing this assignment to make “great videos,” at least not directly. Rather, we’re doing this project to think about and analyze the similarities and differences in the “process” of traditional “words in a row” writing and this collaborative and multimedia “writing” project. As you work with your group on your video, you might want to keep some notes for yourself on this: how are the writing steps (e.g., brainstorming, drafting, revising,etc.) similar or different? What are the similarities and differences in working with the different technologies of video? What do you prefer about making a video? About writing a traditional essay?
  • Your essay should both reflect on your own experiences and processes and should make connections to the assigned readings.  Obviously, you should make reference to the items assigned for this unit (and I would include the Michael Wesch video as an example of a “reading,” so you can reference that), but you will probably find some of the earlier readings useful for this assignment as well.
  • While it is likely you will spend quite a bit of time making your short video, keep in mind that the most important part of the project is the essay. In other words, don’t do this part of the assignment as an afterthought at the last minute!
  • Finally, as has been the case with all the other essays this term, keep in mind an audience of readers from outside of our class, and think of this writing assignment not as an essay test question to answer; rather, think of it as a starting point for you to explore in a short essay of your own.

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