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Would using an alternative, student driven model for teaching video and multimedia content within workshops improve retention of essential technical information by Fine Art masters students?




We observed that roughly half of all MA Fine Art students who sign up for

video and multimedia workshops quickly forget the essential technical basics

and within about six weeks slide back to square one. This means that when

they later bring a project to the edit suites they require a substantial amount

of technicians assistance to come up to speed.



My intervention proposed a change from what was effectively teaching by 

rote to relatively large groups (15 to 20 students)  for 50 to 60 minutes, to a

situation in which students agreement would be sought beforehand as to what

would be covered in shorter 'bite sized' 30 minute sessions with a smaller

number of participants, typically 8 to 10 students.

Central to my intervention would be questionnaires and focus groups.

The questionnaire would be in the form of a simple sliding scale response to

to a series of questions on basic technical subjects in terms of degrees of

confidence varying from 'very confident' to not 'confident at all'.



1.  Consult with academic staff, request permission for their students

     to participate.


2.  Construct the questionnaire which went through a number of basic

     basic technical questions covering areas which we knew had caused

     issues for students.


3.   Select students for the study - those who would be able to allocate

      the time needed for all phases.


4.  Run the pre focus group in which I set the stage and explained the

     pedagogical tools I will be using to involve the students to a greater

     degree and ensure they understood what it was all about.


5.   Issue the first questionnaire and collate the responses.


6.  The focus group, in which I put a series of open ended questions to the

     students re technical issues they had encountered with reference to the

     areas covered  in the questionnaire and invited comments on how they

     felt  improvements could be made to the teaching methods.


7.   Run the revised workshop in which the technical agenda was set by students  

      who would suggest what it was they wished to cover in the light of challenges

      encountered with their daily digital projects - arrived at by consensus.


8.    Issue the second pass questionnaire, collate the responses, compare

       them with  previous responses and try to infer if there is any

       improvement, no improvement or the situation had worsened.



In my opinion the results were not conclusive, I cannot reliably state that my

alternative style in running these technical workshops has shown any improvement.

Regarding my main tool - the questionnaire, some students who reported a higher

level of confidence at the start reported less confidence at the finish and vice versa

in equal amounts. It could be that the situation is better, or worse - not neutral

but I have no way of knowing this in the short term. I would have to wait about

two months and analyse the group somehow for improved retention.

I suspect there were errors and omissions in my method.


However, in general discussion, the group as a whole reported they felt they had

'learnt a lot' and from further questioning I gather they meant they were now able

to see how a media project is joined up - through the stages of preparation and

research, through to acquisition (shooting) through to post production (editing)

through to distribution of their digital artwork locally or in the cloud. I think this

is in part due to the activity within focus groups and in part due to team exercises

which I had set as a form of homework after my workshop.


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