Month: August 2016

Scandalous Conversations

We started our conversation about social media and TV in class today. While the primary focus for the next couple weeks is going to be on Twitter and TV, we did begin by just thinking about social media more broadly. To start the conversation, students got into groups and were given three sheets of paper (one for TV, one for Social Media, and one for Social TV). They were tasked with defining and visually representing each of those terms. I personally love activities like this because I think they provide space for those who think in a variety of different ways to come together and make meaning. After they were finished, they had to post their papers on the wall, and we did a mini-gallery walk before launching into conversation. Here’s some shots from the class:

We spent the rest of the class talking about the network/show reasoning for encouraging live tweeting & then we picked up our case study for the week, which was Scandal. Incidentally (or perhaps not so incidentally), that show was the first that I personally felt deeply driven to live tweet & the connection between those two things was responsible for my first ever conference paper in 2013 (shout out to PAMLA). I mainly wanted students to understand today why the network has such an investment in the being live tweeted and why this particular show lends itself to such engagement, and I think both goals were accomplished.

From Andy to Michael

In preparation for today’s class, my students had to read a few articles, and watch the first episode of The Andy Griffith Show, the first episode of Cheers, and the first episode of Friends. Since the class is built on exploring how digital media has changed television, I thought it was necessary to have a little bit of a foundational history regarding how television has evolved. We also talked about how early television was marketed and some of the broader technological changes that have occurred, especially within the last 30 years.

Today’s activities were a mix of small group discussion, the most mini of lectures, and large group discussion. I really do prefer to mix and match activities if for no other reason than lengthy lectures make me tired (maybe I need to work on my endurance haha). But honestly, I think limiting most things to twenty minute, or less, increments helps to keep the class fresh. When the students were having their small group discussions, I was able to circulate and listen to their conversations, which gave me ideas for things to focus on in large group discussion and other portions of the class. Luckily, my classroom this semester makes it easy to do this, but most of the other classrooms I’ve been in during my college teaching career do not make it easy for instructors to move between the students easily. I’m sure there are valid reasons why most rooms are constructed as they are, but as long as I have the spacious room that I’ve got, I’m definitely going to take advantage of it.

Relatedly, over the summer, I bought this guy:

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Kensington Wireless Presenter

It’s a Kensington Wireless Presenter ($32 on Amazon), and while at first I was a bit worried that it’d be a little pretentious to walk around the room with these thing, I have to say that it has been quite useful. I don’t like to be married to the podium, and this lets me move around w/o having to dash back to the computer to show the next slide or start the next video.

For the last chunk of class, we looked at the first episode of The Office (U.S). It’s only the second day, but they were already able to draw on some of the significant influences of technology. Next week, we’re jumping into examining how social media and television have become intertwined, and they’ll begin to move toward their first composition, which will involve both Twitter and Storify. This is my excited face-> 😃

Year Five, Day One

Today, my fifth year of graduate school began.

I’ve wanted to teach for almost my entire life, and getting the opportunity to do so each semester is something that, as challenging as it might be at times, I find endlessly rewarding. And one of my favorite (read: super nerdy) things to do is to read through various teaching blogs and websites to gather ideas for class activities, assignments, and developing better pedagogy. Inspired by the many sites I visited in preparation for this semester, I decided to start my own teaching blog. I think this is a good decision for a couple of reasons. First, ideally, teaching ideas that I mention here will hopefully help others just as I’ve been helped by reading through other folks’ blogs. Additionally, this will assist me in keeping track of what I’ve done in the classroom, what works well, and what needs tweaking. In my undergrad education courses, we were taught to reflect on our teaching regularly, and I feel like I haven’t done that nearly enough in my college teaching.

Today was the first day of Digital Media Composing, which is a class that I’m teaching for the very first time. Given my primary research areas of Television Studies and Film Studies, I decided to focus the class around the ways in which digital media has changed television. And as the title of the course suggests, the students will have to create several digital compositions throughout the semester that reflect their understanding of the course material and that demonstrate their abilities to communicate in a variety of digital formats.

Inspired by this post, I wanted to do a bit more than simply go over the syllabus on the first day. So we started with a sort of hybrid Bingo/Scavenger Hunt activity, the idea for which I got from a poster on the Teaching Media Facebook group. I filled each box with things like “has a Netflix account,” “has livetweeted a TV show,” and “has listened to a podcast about a TV show.” Students then had to talk to each other and find people who had done these things (with no repeats!) in hopes of getting Bingo. I had them do this for about ten minutes, and afterwards, we talked about what things stood out to them, what things they had trouble finding someone for, etc. And though I don’t think this was a groundbreaking activity, I do think it gave them an idea of what the class might be about and it got them to talk to each other.

We did spend *some* time going over the syllabus. However, rather than just me reading it to them, I had them read it to themselves, then I had them talk to each other, then I had them ask any questions they had about the syllabus, and THEN I went over some key points. To me, this activity was important because it modeled the types of small group activities that I’m likely to incorporate throughout the semester, especially since I know that some students might be reluctant to speak out in large group discussion, but might feel more comfortable speaking to each other in smaller groups.

There were some other things we did in the class, such as large group introductions (name, area of study, and favorite *new* TV show from this year), going over the first homework assignment, walking through the new LMS, and getting signed up for some of the digital services and tools that will be used in the course, but those two paragraphs above stood out to me as the most significant moments.

Of course, after class, I realized there were still a few things that I forgot to point out. I think that’s probably always the case. Next time 🙂