Harnessing the creativity of digital multimedia tools in distance learning

Williams, Judith P. and Kouadri Mostéfaoui, Soraya (2012). Harnessing the creativity of digital multimedia tools in distance learning. In: SOLSTICE & CLTR 2012: Enhancing Learning, Teaching and Student Success, 13-14 Jun 2012, Edge Hill, UK.


Over the past few decades, advances in information and communication technologies, and particularly the digitisation of information, have brought about radical changes in the way media can be produced, distributed and shared. The exchange of information, once predominately the domain of the written word, now also embraces the digital technologies of audio and video. User-generated multimedia content proliferates, and the presence of audio and video adds dimensions that greatly increase the amount of information an audience can assimilate, adding a richness and depth to the messages we want to convey.

This paper presents and discusses a creative approach to the use of digital multimedia production tools incorporated in the Open University’s 60 credit level 2 module, T215 Communication and Information Technologies. These tools are used in a way that:

- explores new ways to help people understand technical concepts;
- supports the development of students’ technical skills;
- provides opportunities for students to be creative;
- provides an alternative to traditional text-based assessment.

We briefly explain the key decisions made by the module team during the design stages of the teaching materials and explain the common assessment framework used throughout the different blocks of the module. We then draw on the experience of two presentations of the module, each attracting around 500 students, to examine how students have engaged with the video creation activities and to identify issues that arise in supporting students for these tasks in a distance learning environment. Finally we discuss the success of the assessment task: a 30-second video designed to explain a technical concept related to one of the module topics.

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