This course is meant to be fun, engaging, and exciting — and, indeed, this is the experience that the majority of former students have enjoyed. But be clear on the following points:
It’s about more than making video
In addition to learning how to shoot and edit video, you will also be expected to think, reflect, and write. This is not a filmmaking class where you can indulge your fantasies of making music videos, or get college credit for making silly movies with your roommates. This is a course where you will use video to explore the challenges of thinking creatively and critically, while exploring the pleasures and perils of composing and communicating ideas that matter. No exceptions.
technique, technology, and software
The purpose of this course is not to transform you into a Hollywood filmmaker in 15 weeks, or to give you encyclopedic advanced experience with editing software. Our goal is to give you a basic introduction to simple tools that, while limited in what they can do, will allow you to make interesting work (provided you have started with interesting ideas and are willing to work hard). We will not spend extensive amounts of time training you on software and, in fact, you will likely be expected to learn some of this on your own with the help of online resources. Your instructor will probably not know every detail about editing software, laptops, electronic journals, camcorders, etc. What a nice thought, but it’s no longer a reality in a world where software versions and equipment models can become obsolete in less than the duration of a semester. Be prepared to do some exploring and digging on your own, ask a classmate to share information, and share with others what you know and have discovered. Your instructor is an expert guide into the realm of thinking, creating, and communicating; but, like everyone in the field of new media, s/he is very much self-taught and in a constant state of learning and re-learning. If you cannot respect or appreciate this, or want a classroom experience where the teacher always has the answer, this is probably not the appropriate course for you.
Bottom line: carefully review the information below. If you are not prepared to accept these terms, you will not be happy or successful in this course. You should drop the course immediately, which will perhaps give another student the opportunity to enroll.
The Writing with Video curriculum is divided roughly into three sequential learning modules. Below is a very general outline of each module, but individual instructors generally provide their own variations and interpretations of this structure. For more details, students should consult the ‘curriculum’ and the various ‘module’ tabs in the menu at the top of this screen. But here is a quick synopsis of each module:
Module 01:: the basics
. creativity and writing: reading, discussion, and activities
. video: a powerful communication language
. basic concepts and strategies for building time-based narratives
. technical: getting comfortable with camcorders, editing software, electronic journals, etc.
Module 02 :: the art of the real
. video production stages
. social engagement and improvisation: the art of the interview
. research: video as a tool to gather information
. organizing complex tasks/ideas: shot lists, paper edits
. rehearsal: work-in-progress, multiple drafts, fine tuning (more improvisation)
Module 03 :: this i believe
. beliefs and values: self-reflection and personal manifestos
. transcending the personal: from manifesto to social document
. the sophisticated media consumer: deconstructing media messages
coursework, activities, projects
In a typical week, students will be reading, writing, working on video projects, and participating in classroom discussions and critiques. There are three main types of student activity that will constitute visible evidence for ultimately assessing performance and assigning grades:
- electronic journals
Every student will create and maintain an electronic journal (probably WordPress or Blogger) for the purpose of completing assigned writing and making video work available.
- finished video projects
Each course module includes a significant creative video production project.
- classroom participation
Students will screen and discuss videos (their own work and the work of other students) and engage in a variety of group classroom activities on a regular basis.
learning goals and student assessment
In a nutshell, after completing this course you can expect to have developed:
creative inquiry and design thinking methods that you can apply to lots of creative opportunities in life
a robust set of video production skills
reflective habits that lead to greater self-knowledge
the ability to compose and communicate clearly and in multiple modes
critical thinking skills that will make you a more sophisticated consumer of media
On a more formal level, the assessment and grading of student work can best be described by refering to the Master Rubric, which assesses student performance in five categories:
creativity and innovation
Section instructors can explain this document in more detail, but basically you can think of this as a map that defines all the qualities we want to help students develop and/or build upon. All coursework and activities have been designed to assist students in honing skills in these areas.
grading percentage breakdown
Grading policies for each of the three modules will follow this breakdown:
- 33% electronic journals
- 34% finished videos
- 33% class participation + personal skills
determination of final grades
Students complete three course modules. Each course module includes its own grading rubric that gives explicit criteria on how each of the three categories above will be assessed. At the end of the semester, instructors will review a student’s grades for each module and also refer to a master rubric. This information will be used to determine a final grade according to the following general weighting system:
- module 01: 25%
- module 02: 30%
- module 03: 35%
- master rubric: 10%
attendance and punctuality
Regular attendance (and punctuality) is imperative, expected, and recorded. Lack of attendance will have concrete negative consequences. Students should know that regular attendance is one of the assessment criteria on all module grading rubrics. No student should miss more than three classes during the entire semester (and even this is too much). After that, each additional absence will result in reduction of a student’s final grade by 1/2 a grade point.
coming late / leaving early
Students who arrive late for the beginning of class or leave before the instructor dismisses a class will be held accountable. Three instances of this will equal one missed class.
An absence is an absence. Students are allowed three during the semester without penalty. After that, additional absences will be reflected in a lowered final grade. No exceptions. Any questions should be directed to Joseph Squier, the faculty coordinator of the course.
turning work in late
Teaching Assistants are not allowed to negotiate or approve the acceptance of work after the official due date. Students who cannot complete all work by the announced due date are advised to submit partially completed assignments. Joseph Squier, the faculty coordinator of the course, should be contacted if there are any questions about this policy.
‘do overs’ and re-submitting work
“Do overs” of writing assignments and video projects after the published due date are not allowed. Re-submitting work to be re-graded is not an option for raising grades.
getting help in case of health or personal issues
Students who are experiencing health or personal issues, a crisis, or an emergency should contact the campus emergency dean. A Dean on Duty can be reached 24-hours a day, 7 days a week by calling (217) 333-0050.
This is a very ‘hands-on’ course. Instructors try to maximize the ‘making’ and ‘participating’, and limit the time spent sitting through a lecture. Here is a partial list of what to expect:
lots of information, advice, and directed writing that will help you develop effective strategies for thinking and creating
substantial opportunities to learn how to make videos that are interesting and communicate your ideas successfully
interesting readings and discussions; group brainstorming
viewing relevant video and cinematic work
tools and resources
Enrolled students can check out a variety of video production equipment from the Art+Design checkout window, located on the 3rd floor of the Art+Design building. This includes a limited supply of camcorders and a basic array of tripods, microphones, etc. Instructors will provide more details.
The number of camcorders available is limited and there is increasing demand for this equipment. Students are encourage to consider owning their own camcorder in the interest of convenience. An expensive machine is not necessary; there are many models currently available for $200 or less. Although instructors cannot make specific buying suggestions, the one consideration recommended is that students purchase a camcorder with a jack for attaching an external microphone.
fees and expenses
Students enrolled in Writing with Video will be assessed a $95 facilities fee, which will be charged automatically to student accounts. This helps pay for costs associated with providing classroom technology and production equipment such as camcorders, microphones, tripods, etc. It also funds the A+D subscription to the lynda.com software training site.
There is no required textbook in this course. All assigned reading is provided electronically.
Students will need to supply their own recordable media: video tapes, blank DVD’s, SD cards, etc. These costs will likely not exceed $100.