Media Arts Production

10 Media Arts and the University Lecture

3-modesA Observe & Consider


It seems paradoxical that the idea of the lecture is 1) still central to teaching and 2) a topic of interest in a session about Media Arts Production, but it’s not, especially if we think differently about what a lecture is and focus on what the possibilities are with a lecture, as David previously mentioned. Even with all of the teaching innovations and move toward student-centered and engaged learning environments, many students still want (and express the need for) a lecture. The lecture is an opportunity for the instructor to set the tone for the course and the classroom community. It makes the students feel comfortable, guided, like there is an “expert” helping them with their learning. It is a point of connection between the instructor and the students. It helps to structure the class for the instructor, too, and is conduit for the instructor to develop her own teaching style and approach. The effective lecture is a medium of communication that can better help to impart key details, concepts, content to the students. The good lecture often defines–and shapes–what is a good teacher and a good teaching practice.

Dr. John Francis is a UW-Madison alumnus and visiting associate professor of environmental studies at the UW-Madison Nelson Institute. His TED Talk tells a fascinating story about teaching and learning, and sets a high water mark for compelling media arts production.

Now, this isn’t necessarily the traditional lecture, and we should move outside of thinking of the lecture in only a very traditional, 50+ minute-long, instructor-centered format. In fact, unless you want to put your students to sleep, the Media Arts version of a lecture shouldn’t seek to approximate or reproduce the traditional in-class lecture at all. In class, the concept is the same–students won’t learn as well if you don’t engage them with the material and make them active participants in their own learning. The exceptional lecture–and the exceptional lecturer–constantly reflects on, retools, and then reformats the lecture and his concept of it. He recognizes it to be ever changing and ever evolving with the needs of the students, like blended and online classroom environments are now asking of us. The Media Arts version of a lecture gets at the possibilities of the blended and/or flipped lecture and its place in a more active classroom environment or online learning space. Because it is a creative venue, it offers a space to engage the students with the content material in an interesting, refined, and targeted way. Because it needs to be deployed in a concise and pre-planned format, it requires the instructor to attend to and then precisely implement the most crucial and applicable concepts for the course. Because it requires a certain amount of production input, it asks the instructor to consider the audience, to construct a narrative, and to deploy a finished “product.”

Students would remember parts of my lessons that weren’t particularly memorable to me or essential to the topic at hand. Sometimes, these were the parts that I liked least about that day in class. What they responded to, I think, much more than the content, was a meaningful connection with the material that my lesson somehow managed to create for them. Like in other areas of media consumption, we are critical consumers who have time-deficient days; we want a good story and will respond to these points of connection. The Media Arts lecture offers us a way to tell a really good story.

Two Short Talks

3-modesA Observe & Consider

Consider the distinct ways that we consume content online. We have endless choices and constant distractions. No matter how we characterize the attention span of our audience, it’s wise to carefully consider the duration of designed video. In addition, the following two topics should be noted carefully.


Professor Phil Kim from the Wisconsin School of Business first introduced me to the notion of crowdsourcing as it applies to multimedia assignments. While I doubt we’ll see a surge of lectures delivered from the driver’s seat, I wonder whether or not crowdsourcing can play a role in the creation of designed video for instruction. What do you think?


Quality vs Immediacy

Consider all of the short videos delivered in this module as a demonstration project about the question of immediacy vs quality. Can you determine if there are quality standards employed on a consistent basis? Does the visual clarity change how you perceive the content? Is audio or video more important to your learning experience? Try toggling the quality setting in YouTube between 720p and 360p. Which do you prefer

Media Attributions

  • 3-modesB


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Teaching with Technology Copyright © 2015 by Steel Wagstaff is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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