Promoting New Literacies

multiliteracies in the 21st century

Developing a Multimedia Writing Course

From Broadcaster to New Literacy Advocate

While still in high school, I began volunteering as a radio announcer at a small military installation on Vancouver Island. Shortly after graduating, I worked for nearly 7 years at several radio stations in various roles, including announcer, music director, news reporter, and audio production person. As a result of this experience, I have had a deep appreciation for media and digital literacy for many years and, when given an opportunity to develop a multimedia writing course that focused on new literacies, this appreciation grew into a passion that ultimately resulted in engaging, collaborative, and transformational experiences for  hundreds of students who had never before experience social learning in higher education.

The Three Environments

This blended class consisted of three essential environments: a traditional face-to-face (F2F) classroom, a WordPress parent site that hosted learning resources and links to real-life student blogs, and the CANVAS Learning Management System (LMS) that provided privacy and security where needed.

F2F CLASSROOM

  • Pros: Easy interactivity; clearer communication of subtleties; affords social learning
  • Cons: Intimidating for shy students; inflexible time constraints; expensive
  • Purpose: fosters social interaction, collaboration, and relationship building; provides space for student-teacher Q&As, and practice/graded activities

WORDPRESS SITE

  • Pros: Intuitive and attractive interface; responsive design; easy navigation
  • Cons: less secure/private than the LMS; frequent updates occasionally break the site
  • Purpose: provides overview of course; hosts video tutorials to help students get started on the LMS; acts as a portal to helpful resources and important sites

CANVAS LMS

  • Pros: Security and privacy; some interactivity; hosts assignment, feedback, and grading info
  • Cons: difficult for computer illiterates; unattractive interface; limited by LMS creator
  • Purpose: hosts assignment, grading, and supplemental info.; affords secure space for online collaboration, peer review, & teacher feedback

Hanyang English Film Festival

Chair, Organizing Committee, Hanyang English Film Festival (HEFF)

In addition to developing the multimedia writing course and advocating for media and digital literacy, I served as Committee Chair for the annual Hanyang English Film Festival from May 2015 to February 2017. 

This project was both challenging and successful, as described in the backstory (below, in the blue toggle). The Why Do a Film Festival? video was created with Camtasia, one of my favourite eLearning authoring tools.

The Backstory

The festival began in 2013 and, because it was a huge success in that first year, it was soon allocated a healthy amount of funding. This enabled the organizing committee to offer substantial incentives for both students and staff to get involved in the 2014 and 2015 festivals. However, shortly before commencing my term as Committee Chair for the 2016 iteration of the event, a major source of funding was unexpectedly withdrawn and the amount of available prize money was reduced to less than half of what it had been in previous years. With such a decrease in monetary incentives, it was necessary to find an alternative way to generate student interest and participation.

Also, because there was no longer any money to compensate faculty  members (for emceeing, judging, etc.), motivating colleagues to promote the event suddenly became another major challenge. To meet these challenges, I regularly consulted with university administration, our organizing committee, and departmental faculty members. I also conducted some additional research and created two important videos that were widely recognized as crucial to the success of the project. The one that focuses on the importance of multiliteracies in the 21st century is posted below:

Certificate Sample

Another key aspect to generating student engagement and participation in this project was the “Certificate of Merit” that was provided for all students who participated. A sample of the certificate was prominently posted on the festival website and students were reminded of the value of collaboration skills and fluency in 21st century literacies.  A duplicate of the certificate is posted in the toggle below:

Duplicate of the certificate of merit that festival participants all received

 

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Outcomes and Reflections

The annual film festival was, in every sense, a long-term project. Planning for the 2016 iteration began exactly one year earlier, when the baton was handed over to me and I was advised to begin considering who to ask to take on the role of co-chair. To make it even more challenging, the person who originally agreed to take on this role was soon dealing with a medical emergency in his family, which meant that I had to ask someone else.

Thankfully, the original co-chair was able to keep his commitment to co-host the 2016 event and he and his partner did a fabulous job. It was gratifying to hear from many other colleagues that, thanks to the amazing team efforts that our committee members, emcees, judges, and faculty colleagues had made, this was the “best HEFF ever.” And in a break with tradition, I was asked to chair the committee again for 2017’s HEFF.

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