"[I]f I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week…The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature." --Charles Darwin

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Slowly dipping into Web 2.0

I am aware this is no innovation and that teachers all over the world are way ahead of me on this, but I attempting my first Wiki for class. In this case, it is my Film Studies class, which is on a collegiate track, being eligible for credit at St. Thomas Aquinas College. Students are expected to take initiative and work independently. Rolling assignments are to blog regularly on all films seen, in and out of class, and on the reading selections which I distribute periodically. My own model film blog is here.

So we have a precedent for regular resort to the Internet to complete assignments. Now the plan is to use this wiki to contribute to joint endeavors. We're starting simple. I've asked students to nominate a cinematographer they believe to be outstanding. This is a fairly sophisticated critical evaluation. It means the student has to become attentive to the specifics of the visuals of film. For most of us, narrative is everything, and the storytelling techniques pass by our conscious mind. In Film Studies we learn to apply a critical filter even as the film strives to work on our emotions; in short, we treat a film as we treat literature, both as entertainment and critical object.

Having identified a film with some self-evident visual style, the student is to identify the director of photography, look at that person's filmography and decide if that represents a significant body of work. The student then "makes their case" for the photographer in question, illustrating the argument if they wish. As I write this, one of my students has already made his contribution, but you may want to wait a week or two to check in and see what they've done.

Incidentally, Wikispaces offers free accounts for K-12 teachers. These accounts allow you to create a wiki which can only be viewed by a specific community of users and/or viewers. I wanted to make this more authentic, so the wiki can be viewed by the world at large, but only members can edit it.

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