Nov 12

Research Paper 2.0?

I’d be interested in hearing from THAT camp folks about how new media might work as part of the core of humanities assignments in college classes. I’ve worked as an instructor in video, audio, and digital image production, and completed an MFA in which digital media was at the core of 90% of our assignments. However, I’ve noticed that among my colleagues in the humanities straightforward research papers, essays, and written exams are still de rigueur, with few exceptions.

Many scholars of digital media and the new generation—Henry Jenkins, Clay Shirky, John Palfrey—suggest that the PC has heralded a second “Gutenberg age” of sorts. The ability to produce a short documentary, a podcast, a game, a web exhibit, or a slideshow is now within grasp. Many “digital natives” are able to quickly pick up skills with digital media, having a high familiarity with technology and media exposure. And new technologies and techniques will only become more popular and important with time.

At the same time more humanities classrooms are assigning works of digital media as part of the “required reading.” Scholars are using digital media to collaborate and connect with one another. And there is an abundance of new original work that is could be considered scholarly in nature, but only exists in the form of digital media (just thinking of podcasts alone, this and this come to mind).

But I wonder: are classrooms and syllabi keeping up? How much are humanities instructors building non-traditional assignments into the core of their curricula? How can scholarship in digital formats be recognized by the academy? Will we one day be seeing essays in YouTube form, podcasts as final papers, Powerpoint presentations as final exams, and feature documentaries as dissertations?

Moving beyond using digital media tools in research, I’d like to discuss the advantages, disadvantages, and challenges with assigning projects that involve creating original video, audio, and images.

Skip to toolbar