This research guide aims to help in answering the following questions: what are effective ways to bring education in visual language, specifically cinema, to the online context? How would online cinema educators address the challenges of creating an authentic, creative visual learning experience in an asynchronous environment? Some of these challenges include issues of copyright, access and crafting careful discussion which fosters the sort of immediate call-and-response/hands on instruction of the traditional face to face scenario.
Since online cinema education is so new, have there been similar explorations in other fields whose findings the online cinema educator could reasonably extrapolate and apply?
This research guide is important because, in essence, the academic community is presented with is a unique opportunity. Thanks to the prominence of Internet video sites and the ever-increasing convergence of written and visual languages the theories of constructivism and social learning, so key in both the online and face to face cinematic classroom experience, can now be applied to the online pedagogy of cinematic instruction, a relatively un-touched substrata of online education. As more and more students sign up for cinema courses, teaching these techniques online will gain importance to a new generation of media instructors looking to translate the hands-on, creative atmosphere of the cinematic classroom to an online environment. Hopefully the lessons learned here will be then be able to be applied in the future to a wider variety of visual language courses.
Nathan Snow is a Ph.D student in UCF's Texts and Technology program. His research interests include digital cinema, cinema history, animation and videogame theory.
Articles From Peer Reviewed Sources
Arroio, Agnaldo. "Context Based Learning: A Role For Cinema In Science Education." Science Education International 21.3 (2010): 131-143. ERIC. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.
This article, though it does not deal with online cinema education directly, serves as an incredibly strong basis for the overall supposition that constructivism and social learning mesh perfectly with cinema. In the article, Arroio calls this the ‘socio-cultural’ approach to education, which “takes into account… that the construction of knowledges [is] a social process, where social transactions and discourse are considered to be the basis for any subsequent learning.” Arroio further affirms that “by presenting a movie, not only the content is transmitted, but experiences of all kinds: emotional feelings, attitudes, actions, knowledge etc., as the cultural acquisition can give an individual symbolic systems of reality’s representation.” In other words, film calls forth previous experiences (the foundation of emotion, attitudes, knowledge) and helps the learner couch new knowledge within an existing framework on a nearly subconscious level. This theory affirms that constructivism and social learning (or socio-cultural as Arroio calls it) naturally fit into a cinematic context. While well written, this work is perhaps more obliquely related to cinema education than to education in general.
Lu, Lilly. "Teaching 21St-Century Art Education In A "Virtual" Age: Art Cafe At Second Life." Art Education 63.6 (2010): 19-24. ERIC. Web. 22 Feb. 2014.
This article details the research of Lilly Lu and the Second Life program that she created to teach art to both undergraduates and graduate students. The experiment had the students create Second Life avatars and then using those avatars would create art projects in real-time and in the digital realm. She mentions that one of the best parts of this scenario was the ability of students to “use cutting edge instructional and visual technology to create and learn about art and digital visual culture.” She reports having great success with this format and that “the best way to learn about...technology is not to read and hear about it but actually to use it and experience it.” Perhaps such a scenario would be better for online cinema education than the asynchronous model that many online educators champion. Extrapolating the lessons Lu learned from online art education in second life to teaching cinema is not a very large step, it merely takes into account the creation of a real-time virtual world which are readily available and the integration of the classic mode of experiencing cinema (in this case, a full-screen experience rather than watching your avatar watch the films). This is an excellent source and deals directly with the concepts of teaching creatively in a digital realm.
May, Heidi. "Shifting The Curriculum: Decentralization In The Art Education Experience." Art Education 64.3 (2011): 33-40. ERIC. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.
In this article, May argues for a decentralized approach to art education, principles that practically beg to be applied in an online cinematic learning environment. She bases many of her thoughts on ‘complexity theory’, a framework closely akin to the social learning that many Instructional Design texts cite as key in the online environment. Complexity theory “embraces a collaborative and non-linear experience of learning… teaching and learning is described as moving away from the concept of one individual passing established knowledge on to another, to the concept of collectives elaborating emergent knowledge”. She writes that to fully embrace this theory in online art education flexibility is paramount, the teacher must foster discussion and closely watch for ‘teachable moments’. Ultimately she writes that fostering ‘collaborative learning’ is key in teaching art online, leading to ‘critical dialogue’ and ‘creative insight’ that is generally reserved for the ‘traditional face-to-face’ classroom. These ideas should form the basis of the online cinema classroom and Heidi’s well-written article makes the connections easy to make.
Society for Cinema and Media, Studies. "The Society For Cinema And Media Studies' Statement Of Best Practices For Fair Use In Teaching For Film And Media Educators." Cinema Journal 2 (2007): 155.Project MUSE. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.
In this article, the authors address the growing concerns of exactly what is ‘fair use’ when it comes to showing clips from films (or the whole films themselves) in an academic setting. The article begins by addressing the growing (and frequently unfounded) concerns of many cinema educators that they will be sued for showing extended clips to their classes. The authors explicitly and carefully outline what sorts of privileges cinematic educators have, and include an enlightening section on online cinematic instruction specifically. In this section they state that while the challenges regarding fair use and copyright are more challenging to the online instructor they are not insurmountable. Online educators need only ensure that the visual content is safely ensconced within the online instructional system and is not available for download, thereby giving the online cinema educator about as much freedom as the face-to-face instructor. This article takes the legalese that many find so daunting and simplifies it, making it a very accessible and valuable resource.
Goncalves, Ana Luisa, Manuel Fandos, and Jose-Ignacio Aguaded. "Learning To Watch Cinema In The Classroom: Production And Investigation For The Teaching Of Cinematographic Language." Online Submission (2011): Web. 25 Feb. 2014.
This article demonstrates one of the fundamental aspects of teaching cinema online, and once again goes back to teaching visual principles to children. Perhaps it is because teaching visual principles to children demonstrates the absolute basics of the theory and thus allows cinema educators to distill the basics into (perhaps) future learning modules. This article demonstrates not only the importance of using cinema in education (thereby giving the entire endeavor a reason for existing) but also gives educators advice regarding the sorts of projects that could easily be applied in an online environment, namely ‘using films on a subject the students already have some information about’, alluding to the constructivist nature of cinema education and the necessity for flexibility in assignments (have the students film something they are already familiar with rather than an entirely new subject or technique). While the connections between children and adults need to be made by the researcher, this paper does a good job of handling the fundamentals.
Iordanova, Dina. "Instant, Abundant, And Ubiquitous: Cinema Moves Online." Cineaste 39.1 (2013): 46-50. Academic Search Premier. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.
In this article from Cineaste (a highly regarded cinema magazine), Iordanova makes a compelling argument regarding the sort of material that is readily available to the online cinema educator that might not have otherwise been easily available in a face-to-face context. In a face-to-face context the instructor has space and time constrictions, whereas the online instructor can assign films to be viewed online outside of class at the students leisure, thus broadening the possible amount of material. In the article Iordanova mentions that he found a little known Egyptian film on YouTube only to have persistent doubts regarding the film’s director. He did some cursory research online and discovered that within minutes he was making connections between non-Western nation’s film culture’s that he would not have been able to otherwise. This sort of hyperlinking between cinema resources (such as the Cinema Journal or Bordwell’s blog) can be made readily available on the website and, if the students follow Iordanova’s lead they will be finding connections and sharing them with each other more effectively than they could even in face-to-face instruction. However, in this article as in others the specific connections are left to the researcher, while this presents a starting point.
Bordwell, David. "David Koepp: Making the World Movie Sized." Observations on Film Art. David Bordwell, 18 June 2013. Web. 19 Feb. 2014
In this blog post, David Bordwell details an extended interview with David Koepp, Hollywood screenwriter with credits such as Jurassic Park, Panic Room and Ghost Town. I include this blog posting here because it is precisely the sort of reading activity that might engender great discussion in an online cinematic course, primarily because it deals specifically with the fact that ‘New New Hollywood’ filmmakers love to ‘borrow’ from older films, this article teaches readers how to do it effectively. This is particularly useful in an online cinema education course as a foundational text not only for teaching screenwriting effectively but also to combat one of the major difficulties in this sort of pedagogy- visual plagiarism. With the technology to rip different clips from millions of YouTube videos and edit them together into a seemingly ‘original’ work this blog post addresses the ins and outs of borrowing (or as Bordwell calls it ‘revising tradition in fresh, personal ways’). This sort of work could easily engender the sort of collaborative discussion online cinema education thrives on while also providing a useful alternative to visual plagiarism. This is merely one entry of Bordwell’s blog, the entirety could be used as reading for an online course; each post is thoughtful and well written.
International Association for Development of the Information Society, (IADIS). Proceedings Of The International Association For Development Of The Information Society (IADIS) International Conference On Cognition And Exploratory Learning In Digital Age (CELDA) (Madrid, Spain, October 19-21, 2012). n.p.: International Association for Development of the Information Society, 2012. ERIC. Web. 23 Feb. 2014
The purpose of this entire conference (held in Madrid, Spain in October of 2012) was “learning processes and supporting pedagogies and applications in the digital age.” However, there was one paper that was presented in particular that makes this conference particularly applicable to teaching cinema online titled “Evaluation of Epe Videos in Different Phases of a Learning Process” (Kolas, Munkvold and Nordseth). In the article they mention that EPE videos (easy production educational, meaning 5 minutes or less using mobile phones or small cameras) are characterizes as those where “the technology and software necessary to create, edit and present educational videos are widespread” and go on to detail the fact that these videos can be used in digital storytelling with very little preparation or equipment needed beyond what the students already have. These sorts of EPE videos could open up online cinema education to a broader audience. While the theory of EPE videos is easily applied to the online cinema classroom further proceedings tend to be less direct and thus less useful.
Cinema Journal [Electronic Resource]. n.p.: New York, N.Y. : Society of Cinematologists, 1967-, 1967. UCF Libraries Catalog. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.
This is the journal of choice for cinema scholars, filmmakers and educators. Any new developments in cinematic pedagogy (online or otherwise) will likely appear here before they do anywhere else (their contributions can be seen elsewhere in this bibliography). As the journal with the most clout in the scholarly world of cinematic pedagogy it would be incredibly worthwhile to consult this guide to find any recent developments on film pedagogy. For example, Barry Mauer contributed an article on creating film stills (in the style of Cindy Sherman) for teaching cinema students how to communicate efficiently in a visual medium. This sort of assignment could be easily extrapolated into an online course- have the students create their stills, share them online and have their peers comment on them. While the journal might not always have articles directly related to teaching cinema online it is a resource for educators to draw online material from.
Mulligan, Christine Susan. "The Ambiguity of Perception: Virtual Art Museology, Free-Choice Learning, and Children's Art Education."ProQuest LLC (2010)”. Web. 22 Feb. 2014.
This research focuses on the different sorts of online activities that large art museums have implemented on their web-sites to teach children artistic fundamentals. What sort of application does this have to teaching cinema online? The piece focuses on the role that constructivism plays in the way children interact with these activities designed to teach the children basic visual principles. Mulligan asserts through her research that roughly 5 dimensions determine how students interact with art education online, with “the approaches manifest during children’s interactions with museums’ online art activities depends on the needs, wants, and values of an individual child. The findings of the study reveal insight into the perspectives of young people their somewhat ambiguous perceptions of online art-making activities.” This is precisely the sort of insight that online cinema educators can use, in other words finding the perspectives of students in regards to making online visual art. This is more directly related to the question of teaching cinema online and the connections are readily apparent and easily applied.