Recent advancements in hardware and software have made digital media production more accessible to a broad range of people. For example, it is now relatively easy for anyone with a smartphone to record a high-quality video, edit it, and share it online with a worldwide audience. For educators, the growing democratization of media-based practices has the potential to transform both how instructors teach and how students learn.

In this post, we answer two pertinent questions related to creating and using digital media as a teaching and learning tool: Why should you consider using digital media in a course? What resources are available at Brown to help create digital course assets?’

Why use digital media and video in a course?

When used correctly, digital media and video can enhance the design of a course in several ways. It can…

Increase student engagement.

  • Students working on digital media assignments feel a deeper sense of empowerment as they act as producers–rather than just consumers–of meaning and knowledge.
  • Digital media can provide immersive experiences–such as virtual reality–in ways that texts cannot.
  • Digital media can simulate real-world phenomena, giving students contextualized experiences for the topic at hand. This is the foundational principle supporting “game-based learning.”

Help students work through difficult concepts.

  • Some concepts are difficult to describe using only linguistic or numeric representations. Digital media helps instructors “show” rather than “tell.”
  • If students are making media, digital tools help them express concepts using multimodal representations. The ability to represent complex ideas using multiple modalities is a valuable, though under-taught skill.

Promote critical awareness.

  • While text remains the dominant mode of scholarly communication in academia, scholars are increasingly using other forms of media to create and share knowledge. Students must be prepared to critically understand and interpret meaning presented in various forms.
  • Outside of higher education, people use digital media to produce, negotiate and communicate meaning. Yet, they do so in largely uncritical ways. Bringing digital media into the classroom allows students to engage in these practices within a context that emphasizes a critical perspective.

Foster Equity.

  • When students use digital technology in a course, they all have an opportunity to hone digital skills that they might otherwise not be able practice.
  • Digital assets allow all students to engage with course content on their own terms. For example, if a student is physically unable to attend class, recorded lectures provide that student with an alternative mode for learning.

What resources are available at Brown to create digital course assets or develop digital assignments?

Academic Technology at Brown offers a wide range of software, tools, and services to help instructors integrate digital media into their course design. Some of these resources are described below. A complete list can be found on Brown’s CIS website.

Screencast kits & recording Studios
Academic Technology provides equipment for instructors to record their own educational videos. Instructors can choose between borrowing equipment for personal recording or visiting one of our easy-to-use recording studios.

Lecture capture
Automated Lecture Capture is available in several rooms on campus. If you are giving a lecture in one of these rooms, you can request that your lecture be automatically recorded. The recording can include lecture audio, video and/or PowerPoint (or other computer program display outputs).  Recordings are automatically processed and available for student viewing via Canvas, iTunes and other distribution channels.

Mobile devices for courses
Faculty can request iPads for experimental course projects. These devices can help with data collection in the field or lab environments. They can also be used for student digital media assignments. To request iPads for course use, please complete our instructional project request form.

MultiMedia Labs
The Multimedia Labs are multi-computer teaching facilities dedicated to the creation of media and art using emerging digital tools. We provide software, equipment and support for the production of web authoring, software development, graphics, video, animation, 3D printing, fabrication and sound. Learn more here.

Instructional Project Development
Instructional Project Development is an opportunity for instructors to develop technology projects in support of teaching and learning. Projects may include developing online materials to use in your course, designing multimedia assignments for your students, animations, screencasts, video productions, or experimenting with innovative technologies. We also offer student support for help in learning and using classroom technology. Proposals are accepted throughout the year by completing the online form.

Consult with a designer
Need some quick help? Request a one-on-one consultation with one of our expert designers. We can help with specific technology-related questions or problems related to teaching and learning. Common topics include Canvas, Brown Blogs, and iClickers.

Software for download
CIS at Brown offers a large suite of free software for students, faculty and staff. Check out the entire list here!