The goal of the 21st century’s liberal arts education should be to cultivate tech-savvy gentlemen and gentlewomen. For this purpose, I assign students in my course “History of Modern Philosophy” (PHL 214, Washington College, 2019 Spring, its syllabus can be found at my academia account here) to produce a 3-4 minute instructional video in tandem with a 1000-1500 word research paper as their final project. The video takes prospective students in the course of “introduction to philosophy” as its primary audience, and it is essentially an introductory material shortened from the producer’s more detailed research paper.
As a Ru practitioner, I am intensively concerned with how to guide students of similar interest in the college to form a campus wide learning community, and for the purpose, I think instructional videos with an introductory level of content will be a powerful conduit to the construction of the envisioned community. The assignment’s efficacy in this regard is mainly manifested by the following aspects.
(1) The content of the video is a simplified, introductory version of a corresponding research paper. Since the production of video runs parallel to the process of writing a research paper, the two components of the same assignment can constantly feedback each other, which creates a wealth of opportunities for students to team-work with classmates, librarians and their instructor. For example, a pre-production oral presentation of the research topic in the class, and a post-production peer-review workshop on the editing of video images will significantly increase the chance of communal engagement.
(2) Submitted videos can be shared in future courses of similar topic for the following two major uses: one, beginning learners of philosophy usually find difficulty in reading philosophical materials. An instructional video casted by one’s schoolmates will be very helpful for these new beginners to get a quick orientation while accessing to unfamiliar philosophical writings. Two, instructional videos are a powerful medium to facilitate discussions in the classroom. Students can watch separate videos with related content, learn new materials, and then, share their knowledge with each other, or watch the same video and debate their understandings on the same material. This will also make students clearly realize that the audience of their academic output, such as research paper or video, are the entire college learning community, which will significantly motivate their engagement in the class. Needless to say, an excellent opportunity is therefore created for those student-producers to cultivate a more tech-savvy presentation and communicative skill fit for this new digital age.
(3) Submitted videos can be used in the courses of other faculty members in varying disciplines. This can significantly enhance collaboration among colleagues.
(4) Submitted videos can be used broadly in extra-curricular activities. For example, it can be used for the purpose of admission into the college, and can also be posted in the website of the corresponding department to increase people’s disciplinary awareness.
Here are some examples of the final products of this video project. (The posting of them has been permitted by their student-producers)
Are they all awesome? Absolutely Yes!