Teachmeet MEA & EMC


Clip club session January 2013

March 2013 Notes from Teachmeet presentation:

Making Messy Digital Norms

Title is as a kind of provocation in response to how media production activities tend to cleave towards discourses on creativity and newness, there’s this sheen of innovation and progress, and the more we shore up this association, perhaps the easier it is to ‘other’ our field. So that’s my ‘frame of mind’ for the following project, to interrupt this trajectory and make DV production normal (as indeed it is for some outside school anyway) and nurture an authorising environment for digital messiness and agency:

  1. I’m trying to create a rich dynamic learning experience in an East London primary school, running a weekly After-School Film Club for a small group of 8 ten year old children. Some of them are vulnerable kids working with a Learning Mentor, who helps out and provides continuity through the week. It’s called theclipclub.co.uk – this is our blog which is beginning to function as a hub for our learning community.

One cycle over say 3 – 4 weeks might run like this:

  • we watch a short film or animation or film clip
  • we reflect on a section for film language and meaning
  • they’re then given a short brief: eg. a 4-shot sequence including 1 or 2 specific elements of film language seen in the clip – eye-line match, or ECU
  • after a short chat and/or storyboard session, they go off in 2 or 3 groups with Flip cameras – and interpret the brief – pretty well improvising
  • 10 mins later they come back
  • we upload all the clips onto Mac books
  • they collaborate on short edited sequences in iMovie sharing and moving between each others’ footage
  • we upload the rushes and/or the “finished” clips onto the blog
  • I make sure there’s always something new to see, think about or experiment with at home on the blog
  • they go home and interact with the blog with comments and 1 or 2 have started posting

Apart from technical and social skills – what are the kids learning from this messy, experimental, unpolished, improvisatory, open-ended, serendipitous experience in the so-called “third (learning) space”/ this after-not-school-club? I’d like to reframe the question and make it less about outcomes and content and more about experiential aspects : so what they’re practising is a form of fairly high stakes (for them) social and digital participation with a purpose beyond just ‘mediated sociality’ I’d like to propose that they’re practising certain metacognitive frames of mind (to borrow from Howard Gardener). Learning how it FEELS:

  • to be reflexive: to conceptualise and interpret the audiovisual through iterative processes of problem-finding and problem-solving
  • take critically informed action with achievable public and dialogic outcomes
  • to synthesise and take risks with popular cultural material – and what’s more  it’s valued!
  • probably most importantly, how it feels to be autonomous makers of meaning – or digital craftsmen – in a flattened, non-threatening social learning environment

In terms of media production practices in schools:

  1. How far can we take the craft analogy in relation to digital manipulation?
  2. What are the risks of not deploying messy media production in schools?
  3. What’s the impact of economically-driven educational reform as opposed to more learner-centred approaches?

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