Students as Producers in Bioscience Video Projects: Potential and Challenges

Flaus, Andrew (2014) Students as Producers in Bioscience Video Projects: Potential and Challenges. In: The 15th Educational Technology Conference of the Irish Learning Technology Association (ILTA). May 29th and 30th, UCD, Dublin, Ireland.


Practical techniques are a crucial aspect of scientific training because they enable learners to experience the connection between observations and the accumulation of knowledge, and to apply their understanding to real tasks. We have undertaken a series of video production projects led by advanced undergraduate students aimed at generating resources to support practical laboratory activities for secondary and early tertiary student audiences. The projects have emphasised a research and development perspective requiring the student producers to use their own initiative, and to have direct contact with their audience to measure the value and potential of their work. In addition to practical science, this has provided opportunities for collaborative project work and understanding the value and weaknesses of genuine empirical data. During these projects we have uncovered a number of challenges including infrastructure requirements, organisation and motivation of producers, and achieving appropriate production values. Despite the realism of these projects, some student producers are disappointed by the perceived simplicity of the subject experiments, or the difficulty of mastering multimedia editing tools. Since laboratory experiments bring together an ecosystem of learners, teachers and materials providers we have also discovered a number of unexpected opportunities including additional applications of videos and potential to develop commercial links. This experience illustrates the rich possibilities of multimedia production projects when they are positioned at points of genuine need. It also reveals the challenges of balancing the discipline and skills to achieve specific outputs and standards alongside the learning value of genuine discovery research and personal creativity.

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